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2005 04 03
imageFrom the mid 19th Century, Toronto was the scene of various enterprises in electricity. The “electrification of the city” began with communications (telegraphs), transportation (the Street Railway), and with lamps and lighting schemes. Until 1906, electricity in Toronto was generated by coal-powered steam engines, and was distributed by the Toronto Electric Light Company.

Local industrialsts and manufacturing company owners in the city supported the idea of cheap electricity. A company was formed in order to generate power at Niagara Fallls, called the Electric Develpment company. A proposed route for the transmission of this hydro-generated power was a straight line, an ideal route for a power line. In those days a railway could expropriate land in a straight path, a privilege not yet available to a power company. Consequently, the Toronto, Niagara and Western Railway was incorporated to run electric locomotives between Buffalo and Toronto. By this subterfuge a route for the power line was obtained. This line was built along the future railway line, but the railway was never built.

Four circuits of 3 conductors each went to Toronto on two parallel rows of towers, ending at a transformer station at 451 Davenport Road just below the future Casa Loma. Twelve individual conductors entered at the top of the building through twelve insulators, in identical square windows. The original site of CPR’s cross-city bypass route, in an age of technical innovation and entrepreneurial ambition, became the site of a never-built ‘electric locomotive’ scheme. The area today reflects its position at the receiving end of the ambition to light up Toronto with the power of Niagara.

George Meek
[email this story] Posted by Brad Golden / Lynne Eichenberg on 04/03 at 08:01 AM

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