Arvida (from Arthur Vining Davis , one of the founders of Alcan) was founded as an industrial city by Alcan in 1927, when the first aluminum smelter was constructed. Located approximately 200 kilometers (125 miles north) of Quebec City, south of the Saguenay River between Chicoutimi and Jonquière, the town was planned from the first day and was developed as a company town, to have a population of about 14,000 inhabitants, four Catholic parishes, and many other denominations, parishes and schools.
Key events in the history of Arvida include: in 1912 James B. Duke purchased the rights to the power on the Saguenay River; in 1925 the Isle Maligne power station near Lac St. Jean came on stream (then the world's largest); in 1926 more than 250 houses were completed and the first ingots were poured; in 1932 Chute-à-Caron power station near Kénogami came on stream; Shipshaw power station, just below Chute-à-Caron came on stream during World War II and the Saguenay Inn in Arvida was also completed; and in 1950 the Arvida Bridge, an arched aluminum affair, was completed, spanning the old Saguenay gorge near the Shipshaw power house.
During World War II, the smelter was expanded and a large hydroelectric complex was built on the Saguenay River at Shipshaw (1 200 000 HP). The smelter, which transforms imported bauxite to alumine and to aluminum by electrolytic process, employed up to 7,500 persons in the 1950s and the 1960s. The plant is due to close in 2005, as it has been replaced by at least three plants constructed during the last 10 years in the Saguenay area.
In 1975, the cities of Arvida, Kénogami and Jonquière were amalgamated into a new city, Jonquière. In 2002, this amalgamated Jonquière was merged with Lac-Kénogami, Shipshaw, Chicoutimi, Laterrière, La Baie and Tremblay township into the city of Saguenay.
Campbell is a good history of the development of aluminum smelting in the Saguenay. Hartwick's more recent book reports on work between 1950 and 68 at Labs in Arvida to develop a new industrial smelting process, the so-called monochloride process.