Fenelon Falls Electric Light Co. (Limited)

As early as 1885 approaches were made by various individuals and corporations to establish hydro-electric generating plants at the falls.

The first to succeed was the Fenelon Falls Electric Light Company, created in 1893 to provide electricity for Fenelon Falls and Lindsay. According to Suggitt the personnel of the new company was kept a close secret until the names were published in the Toronto Globe in April 1894 ; they were Findlay McDougall, J.H. Brandon, John Austin, Henry Austin, and G.H. Hopkins [Suggitt; 274] .

Once the power plant was built [on the south side of the falls] and the wiring complete, the first proposal was to place eight lights on the streets “as a starter” [CP 1 Dec 1893; 9]. Five large electric lamps arrived at the station on Tuesday April 17th [FFG 20 April 1894; 4], and by the following week there were five lights on the streets; “one near Brook’s Hotel, one between the bridges, one at the Mansion House, one at Dr. Wilson’s, and one at the Methodist Church.” [FFG 27 April 1894; 5]. By September a dispute developed between the Village council and the Company concerning the amount of money the council felt it should pay to have the streets lit by electric light [FFG 5 Oct 1894; 5 : 12 Oct 1894; 1]. A lawsuit ensued, and the courts found in favour of the defendants (i.e. the company) and the village had to pay all costs [FFG 31 May 1895; 4]. Reluctantly the village accepted the necessity of paying for lighting the streets; they even paid the Company for the installation of lights in the fire pump house and at the end of the bridge [FFG 25 Dec 1896; 4]. Finally a referendum was held in January 1897 during the municipal election, to vote on the placement of 30 lights on the village streets [FFG 1 January 1897; 4]; the vote was 182 for, 53 against [FFG 8 Jan 1897; 4]. According to Suggitt [274], 30 lights were installed on the streets in August of 1897.

Electricity had become an essential part of village life. Nonetheless with increasing competition from Lindsay businessmen and the Light, Heat & Power Company (Lindsay) the Fenelon Falls company was soon outclassed and by September 1902 had vanished from D&B; it was no doubt absorbed into the Lindsay company. Electric lights gradually became popular although Hand faithfully recorded some of the problems resulting from the new street fixtures . Electricity was eventually installed in the stores owned by “Mr. McFarland and Burgoyne & Co.”, and in the Methodist Church “as most of the wiring in the basement has already been done” [FFG 27 July 1894; 5]. The Presbyterian Church was not far behind [FFG 8 Nov 1895; 4]. Howry’s Mill also had it installed in the mill and mill-yard [FFG 12 Oct 1894; 5: 19 Oct 1894; 5]. They even went so far as to introduce their own electric plant [i.e. generator]. Electricity was soon an essential part of village life.

Some issues Hand noted were: lights not as steady or reliable as expected [FFG 27 April 1894; 4 : 29 June 1894; 5]; dead bugs found at the foot of the poles [FFG 4 May 1894; 4]; the lowered costs of electricity [FFG 27 July 1894; 5]; a burnt-out transformer [FFG 19 Oct 1894; 5]; malfunctioning “dynamo” [FFG 19 March 1897; 5.]

See Also

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