Canning Water & Electric Light,
Heating & Power Company Limited

and the electric power system operated by the
Canning Water Commission

Historical Notes

Kings County, Nova Scotia




General Overview

The Canning Water & Electric Light, Heating & Power Company was incorporated under Chapter 158 of the 1893 Acts of the Nova Scotia Legislature, passed on April 28th, 1893. In 1893, the company built a water supply system for the village of Canning. This system consisted of a dam on the North Mountain which held back water to form the system's reservoir, and underground pipes to carry water from the reservoir to Canning and distribute water to customers located along Canning's streets.

There is no known evidence that the Canning Water & ELH&P Company ever got into the electric power business.

In August 1894, the company's water system was sold to the Canning Water Commission, which owned, operated and maintained the system from the time of purchase, continuing until today (September 2002).

About 1900, the inhabitants of Canning decided to install street lights. They wanted to have electric street lights, but, while at that time electric power was available in Windsor and Kentville and Wolfville, it was not available in Canning. The village installed kerosene street lamps in 1909, and these were maintained and operated for several years, but the people never considered them to be altogether satisfactory.

In March 1919 the Legislature passed an Act to give the Canning Water Commission legal authority to build and operate a system to provide electric power in Canning, for street lighting and other purposes. The system was built in the spring of 1921, by the Canning Water Commission, which owned and operated it for twenty years. In the beginning, the Canning electric system bought electricity from the Gaspereaux River Light, Heat & Power Company.

The Gaspereaux River Light, Heat & Power Company was incorporated on 3 March 1920, by Charles H. Wright and Roy A. Jodrey, both residents of Wolfville. Gaspereau River Light, Heat & Power Company was the legal entity that owned and operated Jodrey and Wright's dam on the Gaspereau River at Stivers Falls (White Rock).

The Stiver's Falls Hydroelectric Plant, usually known as the old White Rock generating station, was built in 1919 at Stiver's Falls on the Gaspereaux River, near White Rock, about 3km south-west of Wolfville, and produced electricity for the first time on 25 February 1920. The installation at Stiver's Falls began (in 1920) with a capacity of 375 horsepower 280 kilowatts. It provided electricity for a dozen Kings County communities, including both Wolfville and Kentville and, on the side, it ground pulp.
[Source: The Story of R.A. Jodrey, Enterpreneur (book) by Harry Bruce, McClelland & Stewart, 1979]


In 1920, the Gaspereau River Light, Heat & Power Company had built a power line as far as Port Williams, and it distributed and sold electric power in Port Williams.

In the spring of 1921 the Canning Water Commission built a 4.5 mile 7.2 km power line between Port Williams and Canning, to bring Gaspereau River electricity to Canning.

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

In 1924, Isaac Walton Killam, through the Royal Securities Corporation, bought control of Nova Scotia Tramways & Power Company Limited.

In 1928, Nova Scotia Tramways & Power Company Limited changed its name to Nova Scotia Light & Power Company Limited.

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

On 28 August 1941, the Canning electric system was sold to the Avon River Power Company, then a wholly-owned subsidiary of 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. After this name change, Nova Scotia Power Inc. continued as a wholly-owned subsidiary of Emera Inc.


Canning Water & Electric Light, Heating & Power Co. Ltd.

NSL 1893 chapter 158 — Act to incorporate the Canning Water & Electric Light, Heating & Power Co. Ltd.
NSL 1894 chapter   93 — Amendment





Canning Water Commissioners

NSL 1894 chapter   59 —
NSL 1919 chapter 132 —
NSL 1921 chapter 126 —
NSL 1922 chapter 109 —
NSL 1923 chapter 115 —



1900 November 27

Special Meeting of Canning Ratepayers

Mr. J.A. DeWolfe, Chairman of the Water Commissioners, stated that the Commissioners called this meeting to get the opinion of the citizens on the question of Electric Light for Canning. Mr. DeWolfe also stated that a company, or someone representing a company, had offered to light the streets for $8.00 per year per light of 16 candlepower — as many lights as the people want.

Commissioner N.W. Eaton stated that he thought 25 lights of 16 candlepower would light the village streets fairly well. On an assessment of $172,000, the tax rate for the lights would be about 12 cents per $100 of assessment.

Informal discussion was freely indulged in by different speakers on many phases of the subject, until finally it was moved by C.E. Borden and seconded by E.B. Eaton "that the Commissioners be requested to arrange for the sufficient lighting (of the streets of Canning) in the most economic manner according to their judgement."

This motion was amended to read: that the Commissioners be requested to provide a number of street lights, the cost of which is not to exceed $200.00 annually.

Carried 18 to 2. Meeting adjourned.

Robert Lockwood, Chairman, and
G.W. Parker, Secretary

Source: MVC 1894-1928

Nova Scotia: Village of Canning minutes, November 27, 1900
Village of Canning minutes, November 27, 1900



1903 May 11

1903 Annual Meeting of Canning Ratepayers

...Considerable discussion took place in regard to electric lights. It was moved, seconded and passed that the former motion passed at a special meeting held on November 27, 1900, be reaffirmed to authorize the Water Commissioners to light the streets of the water district at a cost not exceeding two hundred dollars a year.

John Nicholson, Chairman, and
Ira Cox, Secretary

Source: MVC 1894-1928




Note by ICS, 26 June 2002:
It is not clear what happened during the years 1900-1908
about street lights in Canning. The minutes clearly state
that authorization was given to spend up to $200 a year on
street lights, but I have found no mention anywhere that any
street lights were actually installed before 1909.



1909 May 10

1909 Annual Meeting of Canning Ratepayers

...Moved by N.W. Eaton, seconded by W.H. Baxter, that the sum of $200 voted for the lighting contract be continued as before.  Carried.

Resolved that the Commissioners be requested to consider seriously the question of lighting the streets of Canning by oil lamps or any means within the limit of funds voted by the ratepayers.  Moved by G.W. Parker, seconded by J.A. Northup, and carried.

Col. E.M. Beckwith, Chairman, and
R.W. North, Secretary

Source: MVC 1894-1928




"MVC 1894-1928" refers to the official
Minute Book of the Village of Canning,
12 March 1894 - 29 March 1928.
These excerpts are nearly verbatim —
they have been lightly edited for clarity only.



1910 May 9

1910 Annual Report of Canning Water Commissioners

...Twelve street lamps have been placed in Canning at a cost of $125.00.  Sixty dollars for lamps and fittings and sixty-five dollars for maintenance for six months.  A few more lamps properly located would further improve this lighting system, which has been appreciated by the public...

W.H. Baxter
R.W. North
H.E. Bennett   Commissioners

Source: MVC 1894-1928

Note by ICS, 26 June 2002:
"Maintenance for six months" is believed to mean the cost
of operation of these street lamps, including the cost
of kerosene fuel, wicks, and the services of a lamplighter.



1914 May 1

1914 Annual Report of Canning Water Commissioners

...The street lights have been maintained but not as satisfactorily as we would wish.  Some lamps are now five years old and have been leaking so many times that some parts will have to be renewed.  We regret that so many globes have been broken, and think every citizen should assist in the protection of these lamps as they are the property of the ratepayers...
Source: MVC 1894-1928


1914 May 11

1914 Annual Meeting of Canning Ratepayers

...Moved by J.E. Hennigar, seconded by A.M. Lockwood, that a reward of Ten Dollars be offered for information that will lead to conviction of any parties breaking globes or damaging street lights.  Passed.
Source: MVC 1894-1928


1915 May 10

1915 Annual Meeting of Canning Ratepayers

...Moved by A.D. Payzant that the sum of $300 be granted the Commissioners for lighting the streets for the ensuing year.  Seconded by G.W. Parker, who thought that an arrangement might be made with those who have private Acetylene Plants to assist in lighting the streets in a more satisfactory manner.  Mr. F.A. McBride thought that we were not getting value for our money under the present system.  A.M. Lockwood thought that the time had arrived, that we ascertain if possible if there is not some way that we could spend this $300 or even more, in the lighting of our streets, and have a more satisfactory service...
Source: MVC 1894-1928



Canning Water Commissioners

Expenditures for Street Lighting
for twelve months

Kerosene lamps
May 1910 - April 1911 $199.84
May 1911 - April 1912 $177.75
May 1912 - April 1913 $198.28
May 1913 - April 1914 $221.80
May 1914 - April 1915 $220.72
May 1915 - April 1916 $220.96
May 1916 - April 1917 $231.85
May 1917 - April 1918 $213.43
May 1918 - April 1919 $230.01
May 1919 - April 1920 $215.79
Source: the official Minute Book
of the Village of Canning,
12 March 1894 - 29 March 1928



1916 April 18

Special Meeting of Canning Ratepayers

The public notice advertising this meeting read as follows:
A Special Meeting of the Ratepayers of the Canning Water District will be held in Parkers Hall, Tuesday evening April 18th, 1916, at 8 o'clock, for the purpose of considering the question of seeking legislation to give the Water Commissioners for the Village of Canning power to deal with Electric Lighting and the Streets in the Village.
By order of the Commissioners
(signed) R.W. North, Clerk
Canning, N.S., April 10, 1916

Special Meeting of the Ratepayers of the Canning Water District convened in Parkers Hall, April 18th, 1916, at 8:20pm.  Mr. H.E. Bennett was appointed Chairman and R.W. North Secretary...

After some discussion it was moved by Mr. A.S. Burgess that our Water Commissioners proceed to have the powers as contained in Section 2 Chapter 158 of the Acts of 1893 added to the powers now enjoyed by them.  Not seconded.

Moved by Mr. C.H. Meek, seconded by Mr. A.B. Harris that this meeting do not give the Water Commissioners any more power than they have at present.  Spoken to by Dr. J.W. Miller, Messrs Sidney Blenkhorn, N.W. Eaton, A.D. Payzant and others.

Moved as an amendment by Mr. S. Blenkhorn, seconded by Mr. A.D. Payzant that our Water Commissioners proceed to have the powers as contained in Section 2 Chapter 158 of the Acts of 1893 added to the powers now enjoyed by them.

After further discussion of these matters by a number of the ratepayers present, Mr. N.W. Eaton moved as an amendment to the amendment, seconded by Mr. G.W. Parker that the Clerk to the Water Commissioners apply to the Attorney General to get his opinion in regard to the present powers of the Water Commissioners as to whether they have power to deal in Electric Lighting or not. The amendment to the amendment was put to a standing vote and carried.

The amendment was lost.

The motion then being voted on was declared carried.

As this disposed of the business for which the meeting was called, same was adjourned.

Source: MVC 1894-1928


1919 July 25

Special Meeting of Canning Ratepayers

A Special Meeting of the ratepayers of Canning Water District was held in Parkers Hall on July 25th, 1919, at 8:40pm, pursuant to public notice of same.

On motion G.S. Kerr was elected chairman and R.W. North secretary of the meeting.

The secretary stated the purpose for which the meeting was called, viz: for taking a vote to ratify the Bill giving the Commissioners power to install a plant for Electric Lights for the village of Canning. The Secretary read the Bill that was passed by the Legislature giving the Commissioners power in this respect as directed at the last Annual Meeting.

It was moved by A.S. Burgess, seconded by S.A. Robinson that the Bill be ratified as read. A general discussion followed in which a number of ratepayers took part, among whom were E.M. Beckwith, A.S. Burgess, A.D. Payzant, A.M. Lockwood, Dr. J.W. (Butler?), Wm. Rand, Dr. V.F. Connor, and S.A. Robinson.

Mr. A.S. Burgess with the approval of his seconder withdrew his motion.

Motion to adjourn carried.

(signed) R.W. North, Secretary
G.S. Kerr, Chairman

Source: MVC 1894-1928


1920 May 10

Special Meeting of Canning Ratepayers

A Special Meeting of the ratepayers of Canning Water District was convened on Monday evening, May 10th, 1920, at Parkers Hall, Canning, at 9:30 o'clock following the close of the regular water meeting, for the purpose of considering the ratification of the Electric Light Bill.

It was moved, seconded, and passed that Colonel J.A. Northup be appointed chairman, and H. Barber secretary. The chairman, after calling the meeting to order, stated in a few remarks the purpose of the meeting.

For the sake of fuller information concerning the Electric Light proposition. Mr. R.W. North was asked to read the Electric Light Bill now before the ratepayers for ratification. Mr. North read the bill, after which a general discussion took place. Messrs Scott Blenkhorn and R.W. Worth submitted communications on behalf of the Water Commissioners which they had received in response to their enquiries concerning the probable cost of installing electric lights in the village of Canning, including letters from the Berwick and Gaspereaux companies. Mr. Rand gave some statistics obtained as a result of interviews with men acquatinted with propositions similar to that under discussion.

Mr. N.W. Eaton followed with a detailed statement prepared after interviews with Messrs Summer and Baird, men thoroughly conversant with electrical work, and produced figures which indicated that the actual cost of installation would be in excess of what was authorized in the Bill, and was considerably more than the amount suggested by Mr. Scott Blenkhorn. Dr. A.M. Covert followed with a brief, concise statement of statistics obtained by interviews he had had with reliable and well informed authorities. His figures were somewhat similar to those furnished by Mr. Blenkhorn. Mr. A.D. Payzant, Mr. Begg, Mr. Mullet, and Mr. Lockwood also contributed helpfully to the discussion.

The question was then called for. Mr. A.S. Burgess moved, and Mr. G.W. Parker seconded that the Electric Light Bill now before the meeting be ratified. The chairman put the question and called for a standing vote from those in favour of the ratification. The motion was carried by a majority of the ratepayers and none dissenting.

The meeting then adjourned.

(signed) J.A. Northup, Chairman
Harry Barber, Secretary

Source: MVC 1894-1928


1920 July 5

Special Meeting of Canning Ratepayers

A Special Meeting of the ratepayers of the village of Canning was convened in Parkers Hall on Monday evening, July 5th, 1920, pursuant to notice "for further consideration of procuring Electric Light for the village."

On motion R.W. North was elected chairman and A.D. Payzant secretary of the meeting.

The chairman, after briefly stating the object of the meeting, called upon Scott Blenkhorn, the chairman of the Water Commissioners, who gave quite a lengthy statement of cost if we purchase the electric power from Messrs Wright and Jodrey of Wolfville at their offer of five cents per kilowatt hour.

Numerous questions were asked of Mr. Blenkhorn, which were satisfactorily answered, showing that the Commissioners had gone into the matter thoroughly and had the matter well in hand.

Mr. Blenkhorn then asked Mr. R.W. North to read a detailed statement of estimated cost and expenditure if we tap the Wright & Jodrey line at Port Williams.

Electric Power Proposal Approved

Dr. Miller moved, seconded by A.S. Burgess, that the ratepayers of the village of Canning ask the Water Commissioners to purchase Electric Light for the village at the earliest possible date. The motion being put by the chairman was declared unanimous — not even an expression of objection being offered by the large gathering of the ratepayers.

(signed) R.W. North, Chairman
A.D. Payzant, Secretary

Source: MVC 1894-1928



"Messrs Wright and Jodrey of Wolfville" were
Roy A. Jodrey and Charles H. Wright, the controlling
shareholders in Avon River Power Company Limited,
Gaspereau River Light, Heat & Power Company Limited,
Gaspereau Valley Electric Light Company Limited,
and other companies producing and distributing electric
power in Kings and Hants Counties in the early 1920s.

N.W. Eaton was C.H. Wright's father-in-law. Both were killed on
16 July 1929, at Akin's Crossing in Falmouth (about 3km west of
Windsor) when Wright's automobile was wrecked in a collision with
the New Yorker, the fast passenger train operated by the Dominion
Atlantic Railway. Five people died in this accident, one of Nova
Scotia's earliest serious accidents involving automobile drivers
being careless of the hazards of railway crossings.



1921 May 9

1921 Annual Meeting of Canning Ratepayers

The Annual Meeting of the Ratepayers of the Canning Water District was held in Parkers Hall, Monday evening, May 9th, 1921. C.H. Meek was appointed chairman and R.W. North secretary...

The secretary read the Commissioners Report on the Electric Light Construction which was very exhaustive and covered the work done very thoroughly. On motion of Dr. J.W. Miller, seconded by A.B. Harris this report was unanimously adopted.

Proceeding to general items of business, the question was raised as to whether the Electric Light line would be extended to the parts of the village not now covered. Some ratepayers living where the line did not touch thought they should either have the line extended or be exempt from taxes. After considerable discussion it was moved by H. Bigelow, seconded by Dr. A.M. Covert: That all ratepayers residing within the District who are not in touch with the Electric Light Line be exempt from their Electric Light taxes, except Poll Tax, until such time as the line is extended to them. Amendment moved by Dr. J.W. Miller, seconded by G.S. Ken that this matter be left to the discretion of the Commissioners. The amendment being put to the meeting, the standing vote was 24 to 8 in favor. The Chairman declared the amendment carried.

The Commissioners Financial Statement and Auditor's Report covering the construction of the Electric Light System was read and after discussion and explanations was on motion adopted...

C.H. Meek, Chairman
R.W. North, Secretary

Source: MVC 1894-1928



If the Annapolis Valley utilities were small, however, their contractual relationships with one another sometimes appeared as complex as a multinational tariff agreement.

Canning is a good example.  Gaspereau River Light, Heat & Power – Jodrey and Wright's dam on the Gaspereau River at Stivers Falls (White Rock) – sold and distributed electrical power in Port Williams.

In the spring of 1921 the Canning Water Commissioners erected 300 poles (cedar and black spruce) for a 4.5 mile 7.2 km power line between Port Williams and Canning.  That way, they could get Gaspereau River electricity.  In Canning itself, they had 100 commercial and domestic (residential) customers and 60 street lights, the most powerful of which were 75 watts.  The lights were supposed come on at dusk, burn till 1:00am (when all decent people were off the street and sound asleep), pop on again at 5:00am for early risers, and shut off at daybreak.  But Canning, too, suffered from the water shortage at Stivers Falls; for awhile the street lights burned only four hours a night.

There were other problems.  Electrical appliances were as novel as, one day, Canning's first television sets would be.  There were few electric washing machines, stoves, or toasters in Canning, and the electricity the townspeople used in the daytime was therefore puny compared to the energy losses through transmission deficiencies.  The Commissioners cut service down to the hours of greatest need, and shut the system off at other times.

By the late 1920s, the Avon River Power Company owned the Gaspereau River Light, Heat & Power Company, and Canning was therefore buying from Avon River.  The local load was healthier and the service more reliable.  And now Canning, too, was supplying electricity to other communities: Habitant, Hillaton, Church Street, Randville, Woodside.  The Woodside Electric Light Company Limited was an arrangement whereby farmers erected 2.7 miles 4.3 km of line to get electricity from the Canning Water Commission, which was buying all its electricity from the Avon River Power Company.

The Woodside company had a grand total of five customers.  The Habitant Electric Light Company Limited had built and consequently owned the line over which Habitant received its electric power from Canning, and, since the Kingsport Electric Light Company Limited also used the Habitant circuit to get its energy from Canning, Kingsport paid Habitant $50 a year.  Kingsport ultimately squabbled with Canning over electricity rates, and with Habitant over the pole rental.

With all this going on, the Avon River Power Company's total revenue from the Canning Water Commission in 1928 was only $3,119.06.  Still, that was considerably better than its sales to the Chipman's Corner Electric Light & Power Company Limited: $408.20 worth of energy.

Source:   Excerpted from pages 122-123, The Story of R.A. Jodrey, Entrepreneur (book), by Harry Bruce, McClelland and Stewart, 1979

Note by ICS, 29 June 2002:
When he was writing this book in the mid-1970s, Harry Bruce had almost unlimited access to old documents held by R.A. Jodrey's family and companies, and thus we must give great credence to the facts we find in the book.




In May 1923, the largest consumer of electric power, on the Canning Water Commission's electrical system, was Blenkhorn & Son, – manufacturer of quality axes – which used 5690 kWh during the first three months of 1923.

This statistic leads to the conclusion that the
Blenkhorn axe factory took an average of about
ten horsepower during working hours.




Sale of the Canning electric system
to Avon River Power Company
1941


1941 June 9

Meeting of the Canning Water Commissioners

All Commissioners present.  Also Mr. H.B. Mitchell and T.B. Akin of the Avon River Power Company.  The Commisioners were offered $11,000 for the Canning electric power system by the Avon River Company and they agreed to allow Canning to retain their present minimum rate of one dollar per month.
Source: MVC 1933-1961




"MVC 1933-1961" refers to the official
Minute Book of the Village of Canning,
24 February 1933 - 11 May 1961.
These excerpts are nearly verbatim —
they have been lightly edited for clarity only.



1941 June 13

Meeting of the Canning Water Commissioners

The offer of Avon River Power Company was considered and finally agreed to as advantageous to the ratepayers of the Canning Water District. Agreed to call a ratepayers meeting for June 25th, 1941, asking them to vote on the resolution to accept the offer of $11,000 of the Avon River Power Company.
Source: MVC 1933-1961


1941 August 28

PUB Approves the Sale

On 28 August 1941, the Public Utilities Board gave official approval for the sale of the electric power system, owned and operated by the Canning Water Commission, to the Avon River Power Company.
Source: Public Utilities Board Annual Report, 1941



1941 August 28

Meeting of the Canning Water Commissioners

Mr. Blanchard and Mr. MacDonald of the Avon River Power Company met Water Commissioners S. Blenkhorn and R.B. Spicer at (L.W.?) Slack's store office for the purpose of completing the transfer of the electric plant and equipment to the Avon River Company.  Due to the fact that Mr. Sheridan had resigned unexpectedly as Commissioner since the last meeting, the question of the legality of the transfer arose.  Legal advice on the matter was obtained from both Mr. Blanchard and B.W. Roscoe.  As both agreed that the sale could be made legally by the two Commissioners, without further delay the papers were duly signed and delivered.
Source: MVC 1933-1961



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