Lindsay Light, Heat & Power Company (Lindsay)

J. Alexander Culverhouse, an electrical and mechanical broker, and George White-Fraser, an electrical engineer, both from Toronto, were unknown in the village before March 1898. Having acquired control of the water power at the falls, they appeared before the Village Council at a specially called meeting on Saturday April 30th, 1898 to request the passage of a by-law authorizing them “to erect, place and maintain poles, wires and all other necessary appliances upon, through, under and along the streets, squares, and other public places in the village of Fenelon Falls for the purpose of conducting, supplying and distributing electricity for the purposes of light, heat and power in the village of Fenelon Falls, town of Lindsay and other places…” [FFG 6 May 1898; 4]. Despite opposition to the project1, and after some revisions, the Council passed a by-law on Monday, May 9th, authorizing the project. Hand claimed the by-law was shoved through with indecent haste, and would permanently injure trade in the village, as most of its water power had been handed over to the company. He was also convinced that McDougall, Brandon and Austin, members of the Village Syndicate, had influenced much of the decision-making. Fenelon Township Council passed a similar by-law on May 24th.

By August, when work was to have commenced, there was no sign of activity, and Hand was ready to predict that the project would come to nothing [FFG 23 Sept 1898; 4]. By October the Reeve of Lindsay was accusing Hand of abusing him and the water power project, and Hand published all he had ever written in his defense [FFG 21 Oct 1898; 4-5]. The controversy still raged on in December [FFG 2 Dec 1898; 4] and into the following year. Eventually the project was taken over by William Needler, Thomas Sadler and [R.?]F. Reesor and their new company became the Lindsay Light, Heat & Power Company (based in Lindsay).

In the spring of 1899 permission was obtained to install poles along the right of way of the Grand Trunk Railway between Lindsay and the Falls, with work beginning soon afterwards. By July the ground was broken for a new power house at Fenelon Falls and the work was completed the following year. Repairs and upgrades to the power house were underway in March [WP 16 March 1900; 10] and the “dynamo” was in place by April [WP 20 April 1900; 10]. Power was first transmitted to Lindsay in May 19001 [WP 25 May 1900; 10]. In a front page article the Weekly Post proclaimed “Fenelon Falls in Harness” [WP 1 June 1900; 1]: “The company’s covenant with the Smith Estate is for 1,100 horse-power at Fenelon Falls where there is a head of 24 feet at low water. The power house—a substantial cut stone and brick structure … is built on the site of the old Smith saw mill—in fact it was built up inside of the mill, the later being torn down afterwards.”

“…[C]heap power has been brought to our very doors” [WP 1 June 1900; 1].

447 E.D. Hand was one of the opposition. See his editorial “Shove It Through” [FFG 13 May 1898; 4]. A public petition against the by-law was signed by 129 ratepayers.

448 The proposal to pass such a by-law would probably never have been entertained if it had not happened to suit Messrs McDougall, Brandon & Austin, who from what is known as the village syndicate, and who, as leading members of the community, naturally have considerable influence. A few years ago they bought part of the water power from the executors of the Smith Estate; exactly how much we do not know, and it does not matter; but a great deal more than is needed to run their large flour and grist mill and the dynamo that supplies the streets, stores and other buildings in the village with electric light. Being willing to dispose of their surplus water power and the electric light plant, and Messrs. Culverwell and White-Fraser offering to buy it provided the by-law was passed; Messrs McDougall, Brandon & Austin favored the course they though best for their own interests, and we don’t know that anybody blames them….” [FFG 13 May 1898; 4]. See also [FFG 13 and 20 May 1898;4]

449 The huge dynamo in the power-house of Sadler, Needler and Reesor Co. was put in motion last Friday evening [May 18th]. Martin Haskell touched the button, and in an instant the town of Lindsay—that smart metropolis of Victoria County—was brought “from darkness into light.” We understand that the system is to be given a few days trial. [WP 25 May 1900; 10]

See Also

    © Copyright 2022 - Maryboro Lodge Museum