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Peterborough: The Electric City

April 8, 2024

Water Street, looking north from Brock Street, Peterborough, postmark 1913

From the Trent Canal Reference and Guide Book, 1911

A most interesting point on the Trent Waterway is the City of Peterborough, with a population of 18,000. It is the only city on the waterway and is one of the most prosperous, progressive and attractive places in the Dominion. The growth of the city, especially in the last few years, has been rapid, owing to the industrial development that has taken place, and in attractiveness and beauty, it has kept pace with its expansion and increase of population. The basis of the growth of Peterborough is the fact that it has all the essentials and accessories for manufacturing and distributing, and in this respect it has the advantages that are not excelled anywhere. The essentials for a manufacturing centre are:

Cheap electric power, and plenty of it;

Shipping facilities for reaching all markets;

Suitable sites for industries;

And good labour conditions.

Of electric power, developed from the water powers on the Otonabee River and other waters, Peterborough has an abundant supply. Several of these power sites have been developed, and others are being developed, and as fast as it may be called for, 30,000 horsepower of hydro-electric power can be supplied. This abundant supply of power is furnished, delivered to the user for power purposes at very low rates—so low as to be most attractive to manufacturers.

The shipping facilities are unexcelled. The City is situated between the two commercial centres, Montreal and Toronto, and is on the line from the Georgian Bay (which means the Northwest) to the seaboard, and is in a central location for reaching all the markets. It has both the Canadian Pacific and Grand Trunk Railways. The Grand Trunk branches out in four different directions from the city, and besides being on the main line of the Canadian Pacific Railway between Montreal and Toronto, it is also on the Canadian Pacific line to the Georgian Bay. It has thus direct connection with all parts of the Dominion. The Trent Waterway also gives water communication, as described in this publication.

The number and diversity of the industries in Peterborough makes the labour of all kinds easily obtainable, and labour troubles are unknown. The workmen are largely home-owners and interested in the welfare of the city. Owing to expenses being lower than in the large centres, the cost of labour is lower, which is a great advantage to the manufacturer.

Possessing these essentials for manufacturing and distributing, Peterborough has excellent systems of sewers and waterworks, electric street railway, several large and fine parks, handsome churches and public buildings, a number of well-equipped public schools, Collegiate Institute, and Provincial Normal School, first class mercantile establishments, three hospitals, theatres, a low rate of taxes, most efficient fire protection—all the conditions for business, health, comfort and pleasure.

The summer resorts adjacent to Peterborough are celebrated ones, including Stony Lake, with its picturesque islands, Chemong Lake, with its beautiful park, and the Otonabee River and Rice Lake, with their numerous attractive summer resorts.

These advantages of the situation, given by nature, and the acquired advantages that have been secured and built up, combined with the public spirit of citizens, have resulted in Peterborough passing all the other towns in the district in the race for advancement. Its manufacturing industries are numerous, including the Canadian General Electric Company’s works, in which about 2000 employees are engaged; the Quaker Oats Mills, the Brinton Carpet Factory, whose parent company is in England, and woolen mills, lock factory, tool factories, makers of mill, mining and hydraulic machinery, agricultural implements, locks and builders’ hardware, harness and saddlery, stoves, boats of all kinds, sails and tents, rope and cordage, gasoline engines, lumber, brick, furniture, cereal products, steam engines and pumps, show cases, mattresses, pork products, and many other lines. Altogether, there is $12,180,000 of capital invested in manufacturing in Peterborough, and the annual production of the industries aggregates $42,000,000. Frequent enlargements are emphatic evidences of the prosperity of the industries. Wholesale houses, of which there are several, testify to the city’s advantages as a distributing centre.

The many superior advantages of Peterborough are open to new industries, and enquiries will be willingly answered and information cheerfully given, and every effort will be made to facilitate their establishment. For additional intelligence on any point, or for specific information bearing on any line of manufacture, write to the City Clerk and prompt attention will be given.

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