Dams of Contention Dams of Contention

The Rafferty-Alameda Story and the birth of Canadian Environmental Law


 Author: Bill Redekop


 This is the cautionary tale of the construction of two dams on the Souris River system, which flooded 80 kilometres of verdant prairie valley in southern Saskatchewan. Politically inspired, economically unfeasible and environmentally ruinous, the dams initiated a long legal battle between farmers Ed and Harold Tetzlaff and the Saskatchewan government, which ultimately led to the creation of environmental law in Canada.

In addition to well-rounded profiles of many of the leading characters of the period, including Saskatchewan Premier Grant Devine, federal Environment Ministers Tom McMillan and Lucien Bouchard, environmentalist Elizabeth May (now national Green Party leader), and North Dakota Congressman and later Senator Orlin Hanson, Dams of Contention begins and ends with the ultimate result of the contentious dam building—the disastrous flooding of Minot, North Dakota, in 2011.