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A History of Electricity in Ontario

“We are off now, just let anyone try and stop us”. Uttering these words, Sir Adam Beck ushered in a new age of power when he opened the Wasdell Falls generating station in 1914. As the first chairman of the Hydro-Electric Power Commission of Ontario (as Ontario Hydro was originally known), he had a vision that electricity was the way of the future and it is that vision that still drives all of us in the industry today.

Beck wanted to bring light and power to all of Ontario’s people. He oversaw the development of a network of rural distribution lines that is now 100,000 kilometres long, and the construction of a number of new power plants at strategic locations on the great rivers of the province. Beck’s vision and energy helped make Ontario the economic heartland that it would become during World War II. Expansion continued into the 1940s, when Ontario Hydro developed three new hydroelectric facilities to meet the growing needs for power during the Second World War.

After World War II, Ontario saw a period of economic prosperity, with the introduction of network television, transistor radios and many new electrical appliances. The demands for energy skyrocketed, and in order to meet the increased need, Ontario Hydro expanded its generating capacity by constructing new hydro, fossil and, for the first time, nuclear facilities.

Ontario Hydro completed its first nuclear plant in 1971 and began delivering that power to the province. Able to power more than 1.5 million homes, Ontario Hydro constructed several more nuclear facilities over the next two decades. In 1999, Ontario Hydro was divided into a number of different companies.

Without this power, the world would be a very different place, and without the people who work in this industry, it wouldn’t be possible to generate it. That’s why a career as a skilled tradesperson in the electricity sector is so important.