City of Calgary. Electric System

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City of Calgary. Electric System

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Calgary's frontier streets were lit by candle and gas lamps until 1887 when Calgary Electric Lighting Company Limited opened the first electrical power generating plant in Calgary. Calgary's citizens were offered shares in the new company located (by present day description) half way between Center Street and 1st W on the south side of 7th Avenue, just east of Central United Church. The town of Calgary was one of the Company's first customers who ordered ten, 32 candlepower lights that stayed lit until 4:00 a.m. each day at a monthly cost of $5.00 per lamp. It is difficult to confirm where these first streetlights were located, but it is believed that they were on current-day Atlantic, Stephen, and McIntyre Avenues between Scarth and Drinkwater Streets. In November 1889 Calgary Electric Lighting Company Limited was challenged by the services of a new electrical supplier, Calgary Water Power Company Limited, owned by Peter Prince. For a number of years, aggressive competition between the two companies existed as they fought to offer the best electric contracts to The City. In 1893 Calgary Electric Lighting Company bowed to the pressure of competition and Calgary Water Power Company became the sole supplier of electricity for Calgary's public and private needs. City officials soon realized the value of having a municipally owned power plant, and with the support of citizen petitions, brought the issue before Council. On November 24, 1904, City Council gave first and second readings to Bylaw 562 that authorized The City to raise $60,000 for an electric light plant. One year later, the Atlantic Avenue Power Plant opened on the northeast corner of 9th Avenue and 5th Street West. Employees of the new steam power plant worked overlapping shifts so that the power plant could provide twenty-four hour electric service. The first city Electrician, Lionel White, managed the construction of the municipal power plant, while James McCall assumed responsibility as Chief Engineer and Superintendent. In 1905 The City assumed sole responsibility for streetlighting and by December, eighty new current arc lamps with 1,200 candlepower were in operation. For more information regarding the City of Calgary Electric System administrative history, please link to the City of Calgary Archives homepage and click on the "fonds level descriptions" link.


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