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Our History

Our History100 Years of Powering Ontario

Hydro One is a new company, but we have a long history in the electricity services industry. In fact, our company's history dates back 100 years to 1906 when the Ontario Legislature passed the Power Commission Act establishing the then Hydro-Electric Power Commission of Ontario (HEPC). Learn more about the history of Hydro One.


 

Our Founder: Sir Adam Beck

Sir Adam Beck was a prosperous London, Ontario, manufacturer, who was simultaneously the Mayor and the Conservative member of the provincial Legislature (which was then permitted). Given Ontario's water power resources at Niagara, Beck was an early champion of municipal and provincial electric power ownership to spur economic development. When his party won the election of 1905, the time was right for Beck to implement his conviction that power from Niagara Falls should be available at cost to Ontario municipalities. In the government of Conservative Leader, James Whitney, Beck became "Power Minister" and chairman of the Hydro-Electric Power Commission of Ontario, the world's first publicly-owned utility.

Its initial project was to build a 110,000-volt transmission line from Niagara Falls to carry power to southwestern Ontario municipalities, including Toronto and 13 other municipalities. On October 11, 1910, Beck held his first ceremonial "switch-on" in Berlin (now Kitchener). He pressed the switch, a street sign saying "For the People" lit up, and the town went wild.

In 1914, Beck was knighted by King George V for services rendered to the Commonwealth of Canada. Sir Adam served as Chairman of the Hydro-Electric Power Commission of Ontario until his death in 1925 and was instrumental in developing the 450-megawatt Queenston Chippawa power station at Niagara. At the time, this was the largest power station in the world. In 1950, this station was renamed Sir Adam Beck I in his honour.

 

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