Too Good to be True: Alcan's Kemano Completion Project


352 pages
Contains Photos, Maps, Bibliography
ISBN 0-88922-354-8
DDC 338.2'74926'097111





Reviewed by Jean Manore

Jean Manore is a policy assistant at the Department of Native Affairs in


This journalistic account of Alcan’s hydroelectric developments in
central British Columbia focuses specifically on the history of the
Kemano development from 1950 to 1995. This development is placed within
the broader context of the history of Canada’s aluminum industry and
the classic debates that often erupt when development projects are
proposed or implemented—debates such as those involving jobs vs.
environmental protection, northern subsistence activities vs. southern
consumer needs, Native rights and title vs. non-Native development and
ownership, and federal vs. provincial vs. local jurisdiction.

At times, the reader is overwhelmed by this book’s immense scope and
superabundance of facts. Nor is its overall coherence well served by an
emphasis on narrative over analysis. Despite these shortcomings, To Good
to Be True provides much useful information about the relationships
among the players involved, and about the process of mediation. All in
all, a forceful wake-up call for Canadians who reside within remote
river valleys, who wish to preserve the natural environment, or who are
nervous about the sale of water and water-power to the United States.


Christensen, Bev., “Too Good to be True: Alcan's Kemano Completion Project,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed July 20, 2024,