Pinawa, Manitoba, incorporated as a local government district in 1963, population 1444 (2011c), 1450 (2006c). The Local Government District of Pinawa is located 110 km northeast of Winnipeg on the Winnipeg River at the entrance of the Pinawa Channel. Its name originates from the descriptive Native name for the channel meaning "calm waters," as this route bypassed the lengthy rapids (known by fur traders as the Seven Portages) of the WINNIPEG RIVER. The Seven Sisters Generating Station (completed in 1952) is built on the 5th set of rapids. When the dam is spilling water, the 6th, 7th and part of the 5th can be seen.
Old Pinawa was first developed in 1903 when the Winnipeg Electric Street Railway Company began construction of a hydroelectric generating plant at the site north of present day Pinawa. Electricity was produced there from 1906-1951. Production was halted when the water was needed for the Seven Sisters project. Concrete ruins of the dam are all that remain, and there is little evidence of the community that was built to house employees. The area is now a provincial heritage park.
The present day community of Pinawa was created in 1960 for the ATOMIC ENERGY OF CANADA LIMITED'S (AECL) Whiteshell Laboratories, a research facility. The laboratory includes a nuclear disposal research and development facility built deep in the granitic rock. AECL initially owned most of the housing and infrastructure but later divested its assets publicly in 1995. Although the Whiteshell Laboratories is in the process of being decommissioned, it still is one of the major employers for the community. Today, Pinawa's economy is expanding as it is reinventing itself with a creative approach to economic development involving a strong marketing campaign aimed at family-based entrepreneurs supported by an effective and attractive web site. It is a diverse community, home to scientists, entrepreneurs, provincial government employees (including North Eastman Health Association and Manitoba Hydro) and those working in the mining sector.
Pinawa is on the northwestern border of WHITESHELL PROVINCIAL PARK, a major recreational and cottage area for Winnipeg residents. A golf course and marina are located in the community.