The Great Recycling and Northern Development (GRAND) project (called the Grand Canal) is certainly one of the larger proposals having to do with Great Lakes diversions.
The Grand Canal project involves building a dyke across James Bay, separating James Bay from Hudson Bay. James Bay would be transformed from a salt body into a fresh water lake. The now-fresh water James Bay would then annually pump 20% of its runoff to the Great Lakes, whose water could then be redirected to dry regions of the United States and Canada.
The Grand Canal — estimated in 1994 to cost $100-billion to build and another $1-billion a year to operate — envisaged a string of nuclear reactors and hydro dams to pump water uphill, and nine inter-basin transfer locations. All told, 17% of the fresh water in Quebec and Ontario would have been captured and reversed.
This water would then be diverted from the Great Lakes to the U.S. Midwest or to Lake Diefenbacker in Saskatchewan and then on to the U.S. South, Southwest, and perhaps Mexico.
This $100 billion project has been called the “darling of the engineering industry.” The chief proponent of the GRAND Canal project is Thomas Kierans of St. John’s, Newfoundland.
First proposed in 1959, this enterprise continues to be on the drawing board and periodically rises to a higher profile.
The Great Recycling and Northern Development (GRAND) Canal concept was revived in 1985. The project briefly captured the imagination of a number of Canadian public figures, including Quebec premier Robert Bourassa.
However, it has never been seriously advanced by any government.
Thomas Kierans incorporated GRANDCo (a privately – held St. John’s [Newfoundland] company) on 15 October 1984 to advance the Grand project. Although GRANDCo is in a “state of suspension,” Kierans is still actively promoting the idea.
Some observers believe that large-scale engineering projects such as the Grand Canal were foreseen in the U.S.-Canada-Mexico free trade discussions; before his appointment as Canada’s negotiator for the Canada-United States Free Trade Agreement, Simon Reisman was a director of GRANDCo Ltd.
Rather than building the complete project at once, the more likely scenario would be the construction of small parts of the project one at a time.