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  • Our History

    1916-1918

    • On November 27, 1916 Sarnia City Council passed a bylaw creating the Sarnia Hydro-Electric Commission, one of Bluewater Power's predecessor utilities.
    • The first office was located at 201 North Front Street in Sarnia, Ontario
    • The first Hydro Commission was comprised of Chairman Chester H. Belton; Commissioner William H. Kenny; and Mayor G. Proctor.
    • In 1917 Mr. J.E.B. Phelps was appointed as Manager and Mr. Robert E. Garrett was appointed as Secretary-Treasurer.

    1918 Staff (l. to r.) Ethel Fiddes, Alice Waller, Robert Garrett, James E.B. Phelps, Claude McMann (Superintendent)
     
    1920-1929

    • In 1921 Sarnia Hydro moved to a larger office 218 North Front Street.
    • This location included administration offices, a hydro appliance and service shop.
    • In 1924 the elected Commissioners were W.H. Knox, O. Lewis, W.J. Barrie, J. Henderson and Mayor George Andrews.
    • In late 1924 construction began on Municipal Substation #2, which is still located at the corner of Vidal Street and St. Andrew St.
    • In 1927 the Commission purchased two 1500 kva transformers, one for Municipal Substation #1 and the other for Municipal Substation #2, in the amount of $16,200.
     
    1930-1939

    • As the demand for electricity continued to grow, the Commission added more staff, transformers and associated equipment.
    • In March 1939, the Point Edward Public Utility Commission was created; Sarnia Hydro continued to supply power, substation operation, meter maintenance and line operations; the Point Edward PUC operated the accounting and office administration functions of its utility.

    Transformers for Point Edward PUC
    Trucks and Line Crew 1930
    • Sarnia Hydro-Electric Commission's slogan in the 1930's was "Use hydro, it's yours". This was taken literally by "Slim" from Point Edward, who was acquitted in court of theft of power after refusing to pay his hydro bill because he was told the electricity "was his".
     
    1940-1949

    • On October 16, 1941, Mr. C.L. McMann, Superintendent, was promoted to the position of Manager.
    • At approximately 3:00 a.m. on November 4, 1942 a boiler explosion destroyed the Hydro Office at 218 Front St. N.
    • The explosion also caused major damage to the buildings on both sides.
    • Sarnia Hydro relocated to the corner of Lochiel Street and Victoria Street, Sarnia in 1943.
    • Construction of the downtown underground distribution system and the upgrading of street lighting were undertaken in 1946.
    • Two additional substations were constructed in the late 1940's to handle additional load.
     
    1950-1959

    • Power frequency was changed from 25 to 60 cycles in 1950; this work included the provision of new and rebuilt meters, transformers and substation equipment.
    • In 1951 the Commission added 2,700 new customers and 34 miles of lines and substation facilities with the annexation of 9,000 acres of land from Sarnia Township.
    • On May 21, 1953 at approximately 5:45 p.m. a tornado struck downtown Sarnia, interrupting electricity service to the entire City. Within a few hours Sarnia Hydro crews had power restored to the two hospitals, waterworks system and major industries.
    • Bunt Murray used a bicycle to pump gasoline during the power outage following the May 21, 1953 tornado.
    • In the late 1950's demand for electricity continued to grow as the City of Sarnia expanded. The commission constructed four 27.6 kv bungalow-type substations throughout the city.

    Linemen George Howsam and Robert Wilson, May, 1953
         
     
    1960-1969

    • In 1964 the John T. Barnes Service Centre was constructed at 855 Confederation Street. The facility included a modern garage, warehouse and meter servicing building.
    • During the period 1966 to 1968 the total system load increased to 148,600 kW requiring the Commission to construct three more bungalow-type substations, MS#11, MS#12 and MS#13
     
    1970-1979

    • The Commission renamed MS#1 the H.T. Ross Substation as a tribute to Mr. Ross for his service on the Commission.
    • In 1979 the Commission sold the Lochiel Street office building to the City of Sarnia to make way for the new Eaton’s Centre Mall
     
    1980-1989

    • On March 19, 1981 a ribbon cutting ceremony took place at 2:00 p.m. in the new Sarnia Hydro offices on the main floor of the Kenwick Building on George Street in Sarnia
    • On September 12, 1985 the new appliance sales and service centre opened at 855 Confederation Street.
    • In 1988 the Commission decided to amalgamate all operations at 855 Confederation Street.
    • Construction of the service centre expansion began in November 1989.

    Commissioners J.M. Harris, Muriel Church, J.W. Vanderheide, H.B. Turnbull and Mayor Marceil Saddy
     
    1990-1999

    • In July 1990, Sarnia Hydro office staff moved to the expanded service centre at 855 Confederation Street
    • In 1995, customers of Sarnia Hydro received a rate decrease; rates remained steady throughout the 1990's.
    • In the late 1990's Sarnia Hydro negotiated service contracts with the neighbouring municipalities of Petrolia, Point Edward, Alvinston, Warwick and Oil Springs in preparation for the upcoming deregulation of the electricity industry in Ontario.
     
    2000-Present

    • Bluewater Power Distribution Corporation was incorporated on October 30, 2000 upon completion of a merger of the Sarnia Hydro-Electric Commission, Petrolia Public Utilities Commission, Point Edward Public Utilities Commission, Warwick Hydro-Electric Commission, Alvinston Public Utilities Commission and Oil Springs Hydro-Electric Commission.

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