Lajoie Dam, Gold Bridge

Lajoie Dam is the uppermost of the storage dams of the Bridge River Power Project, which is located in the southwestern interior of British Columbia. It is located just west of the unincorporated community of Gold Bridge. This place is valued for its association with Francophone settler Lazack Lajoie, also known as Joseph Zotique Lajoie, a local ‘mountain man’ and ‘entrepreneur’ who promoted a townsite and mining complex around Gun Lake which never came to fruition. He was also remembered with a good deal of rancour; while in Maillardville, his name was considered by some to be synonymous with scoundrel. Over eighty of the shareholders in the Lajoie Company, as well as three of the directors, were recruited from Maillardville, and then lost their savings through the failed project.

Lajoie predicted prosperity for the community because of the area’s supposed mineral wealth, and its strategic location; however these plans were shattered with the outbreak of the First World War. Water rights to LaJoie Falls reverted to the Crown and ultimately the falls were developed as part of the Bridge River Valley hydro-electric system.

The story of Lajoie Dam is an example where a historical site was replaced by a modern installation, but still retains the name of the original settler. Lajoie Falls and Lajoie’s property are now underwater, but the dam is the vestige of that history.