Electricity in Blyth
Electric lights first came to Blyth in 1892
The first indication of electricity in Blyth comes from an article in The New Era newspaper, Nov. 4, 1892, which stated that electric lights would soon be available in the village.
A public debate and vote was held on Nov. 25, 1892, with villagers voting in favour of electric streetlights.
By December the lights were being placed along the main street. The six arc lights were to provide lighting for the village from “darkness” to 11 p.m., 12 a.m. on Saturdays, September through April. The streetlights were not to be used if the moonlight proved to be bright enough, according to the village council.
During the week of March 8, 1893, the lights were finally turned on.
Stores, hotels and some private homes were also using incandescent lighting by this time.
By late summer of 1893, the Methodist Church and Presbyterian Church had lights.
The first electric plant was owned by J.B. Kelly and located at the flourmill. It was moved to Dinsley Street in 1896 then Livingston’s sawmill the following year. Livingston’s mill was north of Blyth Brook on the west side of Queen Street.
The village purchased the plant in 1911 for $2,500. Mr. J. Nivens ran the plant at that time.
Bill Thuell took over operation of the plant from Walter Taylor in 1919.
The cost to provide lights to homes in 1920 as approximately $1 to $2 per month.
In 1924 Blyth contracted with the Hydro Electric Company of Ontario to provide the village with electricity from its Niagara Falls generating plant. In the decade to follow, three lines were eventually brought into the village.
By 1948, Blyth was running into problems, using electricity in excess of its quota. The village was doubling the 1,375-kilowatt per 24 hours allotment.
Pleas went out for residents to reduce usage or risk Ontario Hydro shutting down output. A trial run of cutting power occurred from 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. on Wednesdays.
The Blyth commission offered suggests on how to cut usage such as turning off lights, using lower wattage bulbs, washing on Friday and ironing on Saturday.
Mr. Thuell ran the hydro and water systems in Blyth for 53 years and now has a park at the pumphouse north of the creek named in his honour. It was dedicated in 2001.
When he retired in 1972, he was the only person to have received a 50-years-of-service certificate from the Ontario Municipal Electrical Association.
The Blyth Board of Trade also named Mr. Thuell the first Blyth Citizen of the Year.
There were major upgrades to the lines in 1997 and 1998, prior to the sale of the utility to Hydro One in February, 2001. The sale brought the village $796,000.