Windsor Kerosene Gas Light Company

Windsor Gas Light Company

Windsor Electric Light & Power Company Limited

Historical Notes

Service area: the Town of Windsor, in Hants County.

General Overview

In April 1852, the Nova Scotia Legislature passed an Act to incorporate the Windsor Kerosene Gas Light Company (chapter 44 of the Acts of 1852).

In 1874, the Nova Scotia Legislature passed an Act to incorporate the Windsor Gas Light Company (chapter 84 of the Acts of 1874).

In 1889, the Nova Scotia Legislature passed an Act to incorporate the Windsor Electric Light & Power Company (chapter 127 of the Acts of 1889).

In 1921, the Avon River Power Company was incorporated by Roy Jodrey and Charles Wright.  The Avon River Power Company had its head office in Windsor.

The Windsor Electric Light & Power Company was sold to the Avon River Power Company in November 1925.

In 1929, the Avon River Power Company was taken over by the Nova Scotia Light & Power Company.

In January 1972, the Nova Scotia Light & Power Company was taken over by the Nova Scotia Power Commission, an agency of the Nova Scotia Government.

In 1973, the Nova Scotia Power Commission was legally and financially reorganized as the Nova Scotia Power Corporation, a provincial crown corporation.

On 12 August 1992, all the electric utility assets of the Nova Scotia Power Corporation were sold to Nova Scotia Power Inc., a private (non-government) corporation.

On 1 January 1999, ownership of Nova Scotia Power Inc. (NSPI) was transferred to NS Power Holdings Inc. (NSPH). On that date, all NSPI common shares were transferred from the previous owners (individuals, pension funds, etc.) to NSPH — which issued to the former NSPI shareholders, one NSPH share for each NSPI share.  Thus Nova Scotia Power Inc. became a wholly-owned subsidiary of NS Power Holdings Inc.

On 17 July 2000, the company name was changed to Emera Inc. from NS Power Holdings Inc.

16 March 1889

A meeting of the Electric Lighting Co., was held on Saturday last, when it was decided to abandon the project in favour of the Gas Company, as two lighting companies could not possibly make a profitable business in Windsor.  It is understood that the Gas Co. intends, at an early day, to enter upon the manufacture of water gas, about which there has been considerable agitation, of late, and which it is said can be made much more cheaply than from coal.

Whatever is to be done should be done quickly.  The town is but poorly lighted at present, and considerable work will need to be done in the way of improvement before Windsor is as well provided for in this respect as ought to be the case.  Good, cheap gas, and plenty of it, will be an improvement certainly, but we should prefer electricity for lighting the streets.  For inside lighting we consider good gas about as good a light as can be obtained, in some respects preferable to the electric light.

(Source: clipping in Murille Schofield's collection)

Electric Lighting
April 1889

A bill has passed the local legislature granting corporative powers to the Windsor Company, formed for the purpose of supplying the town with the incandescent system of electric lighting.  The names of the corporators are – John M. Smith, Arthur Drysdale, Rufus Curry, Dr. J.B. Black, M.G. Allison, John Doran.

Judging from the past; this seems to be about the only way in which the town will be properly lighted.  At present, on account of the refusal of the town authorities to pay an increased price for gas, on dark nights the faint glimmer of a few kerosene oil lamps is all the street illumination we have to enable pedestrians to pick their way along muddy sidewalks and streets.  Windsor ought to be better than that, and the electric light seems to be the only solution of the difficulty.  The new Company will, it is understood, at once enter upon the work of putting in the electric light, so that we may expect to see it introduced at least by early fall.

(Source: clipping in Murille Schofield's collection)

Getting Started
31 December 1889

For some time past, repeated efforts have been made to introduce the electric light into Windsor, but for reasons not necessary now to refer to, these efforts have so far proved unavailing, much to the disappointment of the many who want to see the Town lighted in a more satisfactory manner than it is at present.  We understand, however, that steps are now being taken to provide the town with a good system of incandescent lighting, which bid fair to result successfully.

It will be remembered that at the last session of the legislature of Nova Scotia, a charter was granted to the Windsor Electric Light and Power Company, (Limited) to manufacture and supply electric light and power in Windsor, and on Saturday, the 2lst December, the promoters of the Company held a meeting at the office of Messrs. Bennett Smith & Sons, for the purpose of discussing the subject, and of ascertaining if the capital necessary to carry out the undertaking could be procured in Windsor.

After discussing the matter, a stock list was opened and $9,000 was subscribed by those present.  The meeting then adjourned for a week, in order to ascertain if the full amount of stock required could be procured.  On Saturday last a meeting of the subscribers to the stock was held at Messrs. Smith's Office.  It was reported that between $13,000 and $14,000 of the stock had already been subscribed, and more was promised.

It was unanimously decided to organize the Company at once, under the charter.  Mr. Russell, of Halifax Banking Co., was appointed Secretary, pro tem, and the stock list is in his hands.  A few shares are still available, and anyone who may wish to subscribe to the stock, may do so by calling on him. The Provisional Directors are organizing the Company, and in a few days will be in a position to commence operations.  The shareholders in this Company feel the great need of this light in the town, in order to keep up with other places in the march of improvement, and are determined to do their best to insure that the light shall be of the best quality.

(Source: clipping in Murille Schofield's collection)

Windsor Gas Light Company
Improved Lighting
January 1890

In September (1889) last the Gas Company of Windsor entered upon a change in connection with the manufacture of gas, their object being not only to supply a much better light, but also to produce it in greater quantity sufficient to meet the requirements of the Town.  An altogether new plant has been put in under the supervision of Mr. J. Loran DeWolfe, who visited a leading town in Ontario to obtain information regarding the plant required, and also to gain light concerning the manufacture of the new articles, which while it partakes somewhat of the nature of water gas, cannot be properly classed under that head.

The whole arrangements are now being completed, and the company after considerable trouble and expense, have the satisfaction of producing as good a light as can be found in any city.  It is clear, brilliant, and smokeless, and is looked upon as a decided improvement upon the lighting of the past.

We understand that the company are now doubling the capacity of the works, and in the early spring will place a new gasometer in position to hold 35,000 cubic feet, and will also re-pipe the Town with a new six inch main.  When these changes are completed the works will be capable of producing from thirty-five to fifty thousand cubic feet per day, to be stored in the old and new gasometers, sufficient to light the town completely.  We noticed the light burning in some of our mercantile establishments on Monday evening, and we compared with the light previously produced.  We congratulate the Gas Company upon the success which has attended their efforts in this new departure, which was really a work of necessity.

[Windsor Tribune, January 1890]
(Source: clipping in Murille Schofield's collection)

Organization of the
Windsor Electric Light Company
30 January 1890

Yesterday afternoon shareholders of the Windsor Electric Light and Power Co., met in Bennett, Smith & Sons office, and elected the following Board of Directors: A. Forsyth, Pres.; C. Dew. Smith, [Charles DeWolfe Smith, b. 1 Feb 1846] Vice Pres.; J. Doran, P.J. Mosher, H.Y. Hind [Henry Youle Hind (1 June 1823 - 8 August 1908)], J.B. Black, M.D., Rufus Curry.  Twenty-five percent of the subscribed stock has been paid in.

The price of shares has been placed at ten dollars each, in order that all may share in the profits of the project – the success of which is assured.  There only remains $3,000 worth of stock to be taken up, and this has been intentionally left open to the public.

(Source: clipping in Murille Schofield's collection)

Windsor Street Lighting

Correspondence between the Town Council
and the Gas and Electric Light Companies

[As published in the Windsor Tribune, 28 March 1890]
(Source: clipping in Murille Schofield's collection)

The Electric Light Company
to the Town Council
18 February 1890

Messrs. The Town Council, Windsor:

Gentlemen — We understand by the report of your lighting committee, that the present system of lighting the street does not prove satisfactory.  If you would think of trying the incandescent system, this company would like to put in a tender for street lighting for a future date. To enable us to do so, kindly inform us how many lamps, of say 25 candle power, you would require.  At present we are taking energetic means to get electric light in by July next, and are anxious to know as soon as possible if arrangements can be made with the town, so that the necessary street plant may be ordered.  An early answer will much oblige.

Your obedient servant,
J.A. Russell, Secty.

55 street lights of 25 candle power each...
street lights to be kept burning until 1:30 o'clock, a.m.,
for at least 20 nights in each lunar month...

The Town Council Street Lighting Committee
to the Gas and Electric Light Companies
Windsor, 20 February 1890

Messrs. the President and Directors of Windsor Electric Light Co.

SIRS: I am directed by the Street Lighting Committee of the town of Windsor to ask to tender for lighting the streets of the town of Windsor, as follows:

55 incandescent lights of 25 candle power each, situated approximately as shown by the plan on file in this office.  The company to put in all plant, to light and maintain the same in good working order to the satisfaction of the Street Lighting Committee, under a penalty to be hereafter agreed upon; lights to be kept burning until 1:30 o'clock, a.m., for at least 20 nights in each lunar month and any other nights which, in the opinion of the Street and Light Committee, it is deemed necessary to light.  Tenders to state the price per light per annum.  Also price per light for any additional lights in excess of 55.  Tenders to be in by Tuesday, 25th inst (25 February).

By order,
Fred W. Dimock, Town Clerk

With the change of one word, "gas" for "incandescent",
the above letter is identical with one
of the same date sent to the gas company.

Gas Company to Town Clerk
Windsor, 18 February 1890

F.W. Dimock, Esq., Town Clerk

Dear Sir – I have your valued favour of 20th inst., re street lighting, and I beg to say that we will be unable to give you a proposition within the time limited, but will do so as early as possible.

W.H. Blanchard,
Pres. Windsor Gas Light Co.

On receipt of the above, the time for receiving tenders for lighting was extended, to meet the convenience of the gas company, to the fourth March, and the Electric Light Company's tender, which follows, was not opened till that date.

The Electric Light Company
to the Town Clerk
Windsor, 25 February 1890

Messrs. the Lighting Committee, Town of Windsor:

Gentlemen: In accordance with terms of your letter of 20th inst., we will furnish you with 55 or more lights of 25 candle power, each at rate of $18. per light per annum, for lst September, next, perhaps a few weeks sooner.

I am, Gentlemen,
Your obedient servant,
J.A. Russell, Secy.

Gas Company to the Town Clerk

Fred W. Dimock, Esq. Town Clerk:

DEAR SIR – In reply to your favour of 20th Feb. last, in the matter of street lighting the Directors of the Windsor Gas Light Co. beg to state: That our works are in a transition state, and until completed, we are not in a position to contract for the lighting of the streets, as desired by the committees of the Town Council.  As your committee is aware, our pipes are not laid over a large portion of the district indicated: but it is our intention to extend them in the spring, having ordered the pipes for that purpose.  In the meantime we are prepared to supply gas to the lamp posts, at present connected with our works, and as our pipes are extended, to make additional lamp connections.  At present we will supply gas at the rate of $1.25 per one thousand (cubic) feet, the gas to be lighted and turned off at the expense of the town, and the quantity consumed to be ascertained by test meters or in some other satisfactory way.  When our works are completed, and we are in a position to give a large supply of gas, we believe we can give the gas on more favourable terms than the price we have now stated.

I am, your obedient servant,
W.H. Blanchard
Pres. Windsor Gas Light Co.

Recent Developments at the
Windsor Electric Light & Power Company
May 1890

The Windsor Electric Light and Power Co., met on Monday, when we understand a liberal tariff was arranged for store lighting. Mr. Phillip Mosher has been offered the position of Superintendent.  Mr. Barr, district Superintendent of the Edison Company in the Maritime Provinces is expected here about the end of the week.  Mr. Joseph Taylor is proceeding with his contract to erect the electric light generating station building, the old residence now being removed from the site where the station is to be erected.

[Windsor Journal, May 1890]
(Source: clipping in Murille Schofield's collection)

In March 1997, Mr. Jim Sangster told me that Mr. Phillip Mosher
(above) is the grandfather of Mr. Medford Mosher, who in the 1950s
worked as a professional engineer in the Engineering Department of
the Nova Scotia Light & Power Co. in Halifax.

Recent Developments at
the Windsor Gas Light Company
June 1890

The Gas Company are busily at work preparing for the new gasometer, which is expected from England by steamer.  Men and teams are engaged excavating the pit for the tank, which will be 53 feet 16.2 m in diameter, and 20 feet 6.1 m deep.  The timber for the tank is on the ground and men are at work thereon. The hoops for this tank, which are made from 4½ × ¾ inch 11.4 cm × 1.9 cm iron, are being prepared by Mr. John Ward.  They will use up 52 bars 15 feet 4.6 m long.

The Company have in stock about a mile about 1600 metres of small end pipes, for tapping mains, and supplying different parts of the town.  The mains are on the way from Boston.  As soon as these arrive the work of relaying pipe all over the town will at once commence, the intention being to cover a much greater amount of territory than formerly.  The gas now being made is of excellent quality, the only difficulty now being the limited supply, which fails to meet present requirements. The improvements and enlargement are being made under the direction of Mr. Loran DeWolfe.

[Windsor Journal, June 1890]
(Source: clipping in Murille Schofield's collection)

A gasometer was a large tank used for the storage of manufactured gas.
The manufacturing process (in this case roasting coal) was carried on
continuously, 24 hours a day, but the consumption of the gas occurred
mostly between dusk and midnight.  The manufacturing equipment's
capacity to produce gas could be substantially less than the peak use
of gas between dusk and 9 to 10 o'clock in the evening, provided the
gas company had a way to store gas produced during the day for use
in the evening.  A gasometer was the usual storage method.

Electric Lighting
Windsor, 16 July 1890

The poles for lighting the town with the Edison system (as referred to previously in the Journal) are now being placed in position, under the superintendence of Mr. W.E. Lewis, of the Edison Company and the direction of the town council.  The poles are placed 100 feet 30 m apart, and there will be an average of one light to every five poles, or one light to every 500 feet 150 m.  Each light will be of 25 candle power, and will have a street reflector, which will spread the light so that there will be very little shade between the lights.

The electric generating station, which is nearly completed, is on the corner of Victoria and Stannus Streets. The first light at the lower part of the town will be near Dimock's shipyard, and five more until Water St. is reached, and along Water St. to Chestnut 5 lights.  On King St. there will be 7 lights to the Park, and extending out nearly two miles there will be 15 lights, including 5 on Wentworth. On O'Brien St. 4 lights. There will also be lights along College Road as far as the entrance to King's College. On Gerrish St. 4 lights, independent of the two lights at the corner of Water and King, these lights being so placed that the light is thrown equally on both streets.  Albert St. will have 6 lights, independent of the two at the corner of King and Water streets. Grey will be pretty well lighted by the lamps at the cross streets, but will have a lamp also between Albert and Stannus. There are also lamps to be placed on Elm, Chestnut, and Cedar.

The contract for the street lighting embraces at least 55 lights, to which additions may be made if necessary.  In all cases the lamps will be suspended over the centre of the streets, which will be a great improvement over the corner lighting.  The domestic system is so arranged that any house can be connected at a short notice.

For example, some days past, workmen have been engaged preparing the inside wiring for store and office lighting.  Up to Saturday night the wiring had been completed in stores and offices for 184 lamps of 16 candle power, and by the end of the week the number will reach nearly 300.  So far the contracts for the domestic system (which embraces everything outside of street lighting) reach 780 lamps of 16 candle power, and the running power is calculated to supply 900 lamps, to which additional power will be added as needed.  The prospects for the success of the Windsor Electric Light and Power Company are good, and there is certainly no doubt whatever that it will be a great improvement in the matter of street lighting.  The company can also supply power for machinery, but so far no applications have been made in this direction.  It is expected that the system will be in running order by about the middle of August.

[Windsor Journal, 16 July 1890]
(Source: clipping in Murille Schofield's collection)

The “Edison company”    

The “Edison company” referred to was the Edison General Electric Company.
Later this name was changed to Canadian General Electric Company – a large
manufacturer of electrical equipment, with its principal factory located in
Peterborough, Ontario since about 1890.

Electric Lighting
22 September 1890

There was quite a throng of persons, old and young, at the new electric lighting station on Monday evening, to witness the lighting up of the building with electricity – the first attempt to do so under the auspices of the company, and the first time the Edison system of incandescent electric lighting has been shown in the Province, Windsor being the first town to introduce it in Nova Scotia.

There were about 27 lights exhibited, some of 16 and others of 32 candle power, displayed in lamps of various shapes and colours, the effect being exceedingly pretty, and the light soft and pleasant to the eye.  Many were the complimentary remarks indulged in, the general opinion being that the light was excellent, and that the Company were to be commended for their efforts to give Windsor the electric lights, in the face of obstacles not easily overcome.  Owing to the small number of lights on, the dynamo could not be run to its full power of the lights, the 16 candle power lamps showing only about 12 c.p., and the other lights in proportion.

Outside, one of the street lamps, of 32 candle power, was in operation.  While those who have seen the arc light in operation may have been disappointed at the lesser illuminating power of the lesser light there was really no reason to be so.  The Edison incandescent street light shown does not suffer by comparison with the arc light when the great difference in cost is taken into consideration, and especially when it is remembered that while we can have from forty to fifty incandescent street lights for the cost of ten or twelve of the arc variety, there is also no danger to life in the former as compared with the latter.

There are features of the incandescent system of lighting which make it especially suitable for small towns.  Indeed, apart from the dangerous aspect of the arc system, its greater cost would almost shut it out of towns having less than ten or twelve thousand of population.  The system introduced here is looked upon as one of the very best to be obtained. At Chatham, N.B. Mr. Snowball, who conducts the electric lighting business there, assured the writer that after testing three systems he greatly preferred the Edison.  This ought certainly to be satisfactory evidence that the right system has been adopted here.

The street lamp above referred to gave a good light, which radiates well, and with little or no shadow, – and when between fifty and sixty of these are at work throughout the town, there should be no danger of falling into gutters or over hydrants, unless indeed the pedestrian should be overloaded with spirits that are as "light as air".  At the station a 32 candle power Rochester lamp was placed near a 32 c.p. Electric light, the former having a glass reflector, and the latter a white porcelain reflector.

Whether the difference in the reflectors produced the effect or not, the electric lamp certainly gave out the greater brilliancy, and at the same time produced only a small degree of heat as compared with the oil lamp.

There are two dynamos, capable of running one thousand lights, the motive power being supplied from two splendid engines made by the Ball Engine Co., of Erie, Penn., of 90 and 50 horse power.  The fact that they are "Ball" engines covers everything; the larger one at work on Monday evening performed its functions with clock-like regularity, smoothly, swiftly, and thanks to the solid foundation on which it rests, with but little vibration.  Supt. Mosher, the engineer in charge, is greatly pleased with the engines, as well as with the two fine boilers from the same concern.

The Company would have had the system in full operation ere this but the delay caused in receiving some of the plant, mainly the wire for outside wiring some of which has yet to arrive.  The Edison Co., have works at Sherbrooke, Quebec, where the dynamos and other plant have hitherto been manufactured for Canada, but as they are removing the works to Peterboro, Ont., the change may have something to do with the delay in receiving the wire. We hope everything will soon be in readiness to put the system in full operation in Windsor.

Up to the present time over five hundred lights have been put in, exclusive of street lights, which number between fifty and sixty.  It is expected that these lights will be in operation in the course of three or four weeks.

[Windsor Journal, 22 September 1890]
(Source: clipping in Murille Schofield's collection)

The “Edison system”    

The article above refers to "the first time the Edison system
of incandescent electric lighting has been shown in the Province,
Windsor being the first town to introduce it in Nova Scotia."

Electric lighting had been in regular operation in Truro and Halifax,
and several other locations in the province, for about a decade
at that time, so this was not the first use of electric lighting in
Nova Scotia, and this article makes no such claim.

The earlier installations, such as that in Truro, used electric arc lighting
technology, which is very different from incandescent electric lighting.
As far as I know, this claim is correct, that the first installation in Nova
Scotia of street lighting by incandescent electric lamps was turned on
in Windsor on Monday, September 22, 1890.

This was a direct current system, as were all Edison installations
at that time and for many years thereafter.  The street lighting system
was supplied on a separate circuit, independent of the "domestic"
system, because that way the street lights could be turned on and off
by using one switch at the power plant. If the street lights were
connected to the same circuit that supplied homes and businesses,
then each individual street light would have to be equipped with its
own individual switch, and someone would have to go around the town
every evening at sunset to turn on each street light individually, and
then repeat the process each night when it came time to turn them off.

The Windsor Electric Light & Power Company of Windsor, N.S., whose plant was destroyed in the recent fire, immediately started to rebuild same and have given an order to the Royal Electric Co. for apparatus and transformers, etc. consisting of S.K.C. alternators and Stanley transformers.  The ashes of the old station had hardly grown cold when the order was placed for the new apparatus.
Quoted from a typed note included in Murille Schofield's collection.  The note attributes this item to Electrical News and Engineering but does not state the date (this item likely refers to the great Windsor fire of 17 October 1897).

Electrical News and Engineering was, for decades, a well-known trade magazine,
widely read by people interested in current developments in the electric utility industry.

“S.K.C. alternators”

The Stanley Electric Manufacturing Company was located in Pittsfield,
Massachusetts.  “S.K.C.” refers to William Stanley (1858-1916),
John J. Kelley and Cummings C. Chesney (1863-1947), a partnership
located in Pittsfield, Massachusetts, that, beginning in 1890, developed
cutting-edge technology for producing and distributing electric power,
and manufactured electrical equipment such as transformers and
alternators.  In 1893, General Electric Company bought Stanley Electric.
In 1906, its facilities were renamed the GE Pittsfield Works, which
continued to be an important General Electric manufacturing plant
until it was closed in 1987 by Jack Welch.

Andrew P. Shand was a director of the Windsor Electric Light & Power Company (dates not stated).  Shand was a prominent Windsor businessman for many years, from the late 1860s until his death in 1919.  Shand was a founding partner in the Windsor Furniture Factory, and president of the Commercial Bank of Windsor.  His other business interests included a general store, a shoe shop, a barrel factory, the local shipyard, the Shipowners Insurance Company and the Cotton Company.
[The Hants Journal, Windsor, 23 October 2002]

The Windsor EL&P Co. generated 151,950 kWh during the year 1921, and the "total actual output" of all generating plants in Windsor was 1,597,138 kWh for that year.
[Public Utilities Board Annual Report, 1921]

A total generated output of 151,950 kWh indicates the
Windsor EL&P's peak load was about 50 to 60 kilowatts,
during the year 1921.

The Windsor EL&P Co. was sold to the Avon River Power Co. in November 1925.
[Public Utilities Board Annual Report, 1925]


Mr. Murille Schofield's massive History of the Nova Scotia Light & Power Company Limited, seven volumes (unpublished), Handwritten note on Murille Schofield's typewritten original of History of the Windsor Electric Light & Power Company in the Public Archives of Nova Scotia, is a valuable source of historical information about the NSL&P Company, and its predecessors, including the Windsor EL&P Company.

At the top of the typewritten original of History of the Windsor Electric Light & Power Co. Ltd., (part of Murille Schofield's collection) are the handwritten notes reproduced here.  In the 1950s, W.G. Macdonald was the Chief Engineer, and Doug Anderson was the Commercial Officer, of the Nova Scotia Light & Power Company.
W.G. Macdonald, For your fyle
To G.D.A. for disposal

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