MP-1985.31.162 | Power house interior, switchboard completed, Shawinigan(?), QC, about 1900

Power house interior, switchboard completed, Shawinigan(?), QC, about 1900
N. M. Hinshelwood
About 1900, 19th century or 20th century
Silver salts on glass - Gelatin dry plate process
20 x 25 cm
Gift of an anonymous donor
© McCord Museum
Keywords:  Architecture (8646) , industrial (826) , Photograph (77678)
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Keys to History

By the middle of the 19th century, a new source of energy - electricity - is quickening the pace of technological development.

Thomas Edison's invention of the electric lamp in 1879 and his demonstrations of urban lighting (street lamps) at Menlo Park in the United States herald vast transformations. When, in 1881, the Frenchman Marcel Desprez discovers a method for transporting electricity over distances, electricification spreads rapidly, bringing new light into the workplace and the home.

Also in 1881, the first electric power plant is built in Goldaming, England, using installations from Siemens, a German company. A hydroelectric plant, it produces energy for industry, urban lighting and domestic consumption in the small city of Goldaming.

In Canada, large cities such as Montreal are lighted by electricity after 1889.

Source : Brand New and Wonderful: The Rise of Technology [Web tour], by Jacques G. Ruelland, Université de Montréal (see Links)

  • What

    This console is used to manage the production of electricity. The Shawinigan Water & Power Co. installed it in 1898.

  • Where

    The first electrical transmission line anywhere in the British Empire is built between St. Narcisse and Trois-Rivières. It is 18 miles (about 29 km) long.

  • When

    In Quebec, the first aerial transmission line for transporting electricity is built in the 1890's.

  • Who

    Companies are the first to benefit from the new supply of electrical power, specifically, in Quebec, paper mills. In the beginning individuals have access to only the surplus production of the power plants. Gradually, however, homes are electified, making people's lives easier and more comfortable.