EDITORIAL: Happy 100th anniversary of electricity, Squamish | Squamish Chief

EDITORIAL: Happy 100th anniversary of electricity, Squamish

Flipping on a light in the morning, or as soon as we open the door after work — what could be more routine and simple?

But, of course, it wasn’t always thus.

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This year marks 100 years since electricity came to Squamish.

The first attempt to power the town was 1915, according to Squamish’s John Buchanan, who doubles as a conservationist and local historian.

EDITORIAL: Happy 100th anniversary of electricity, Squamish_1
Source: Courtesy John Buchanan

He has a stash of newspaper clippings and government documents that reveal the history of power in Squamish.

The Newport Water Company was originally going to generate power from Monmouth Creek in the Squamish Valley.

Pipe, material, and machinery were brought to the base of the site, but that initial attempt was aborted on Sept. 6, 1915.

 The provincial government later purchased The Newport Water Company. Using all of the original pipe and equipment slated for the Monmouth Creek project, the project was moved east and a timber-crib dam on the Stawamus River was constructed.

[Timber-crib dams were common in areas like Squamish, where wood was plentiful. Logs were stacked like the construction of a log house, but filled with soil that then held back the water.]

Work started on the dam shortly after the April 14, 1919 contract was awarded to Vancouver’s Robertson and Partners.

The dam was to provide the town with a gravity water supply system, which was brought online Sept.23,1919. The dam was also to provide power to the town and the local Pacific Great Eastern Railway shops.

Our neighbours in the big city had power since Aug. 8, 1887, according to The Chuck Davis History of Metropolitan Vancouver.

 The switch to supply Squamish with power was formally turned on Dec. 18, 1919.

 Access to power meant Squamish got its first telephone system, too.

All things electric could now be brought into the town.

Adverts in newspapers from the time hint at the change this brought.

“Are you content to use electric current for lighting purposes only?” asked one advertisement for City Light and Power in The Winnipeg Tribune in 1919.

“There are scores of practical electric devices, which add greatly to the livability and economy of your household.... they save steps. They save fuel. They save time, and do the work which would otherwise be a real hardship.” Photos with the ad show an electric iron, heater, stove, and vacuum.

What a revelation this must have been.

EDITORIAL: Happy 100th anniversary of electricity, Squamish_2
Source: Courtesy John Buchanan

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