Dr. Farncomb’s House was once used as a Hydro office where the people of Newcastle would come to pay their hydro bills
By Myno Van Dyke
The Village of Newcastle has had electricity for almost 120 years. In 1896, Samuel Wilmot installed a water powered electric generating plant on his property (near the Fish Hatchery), one mile west of Newcastle, north of Hwy 2. Later, he received a “franchise” from the Village of Newcastle Council and in September, 1896 had erected power lines. Initially, there were just twelve street lights and eighty domestic hydro connections to houses and businesses. The street lights were “32 candlepower” and were provided for $1.00 per light per year. The house connections were on a flat rate of 40 cents per month for each outlet. Electricity was only provided from dusk until midnight.
In April 1899, William Kenefick, Wilmot’s Fish hatchery manager, was made manager of the electrical system. In July of that year, Samuel Wilmot passed away and his son-in-law, Duncan J. Galbraith, became the owner of the system and he operated it until 1911. During this time the flat rate was done away with and a new meter system was started.
In 1911, the company was sold to the Seymour Light and Power Company. The Seymour Co. improved service to twenty four hours, seven days a week. It is believed that they had an office at the brick building located at 14 North St. Newcastle. In 1916, the Hydro Electric Power Commission of Ontario took over the system.
In January, 1937, the Village of Newcastle purchased the system after the “ratepayers” voted by an overwhelming majority for the Village to purchase and operate it. In 1937 and 1938, it was maintained by the Bowmanville Public Utilities until it was entirely run by the Newcastle Hydro Electric Commission. George Jamieson, E. Rich and Cecil Carveth were the first Commissioners. Harv Britton was the Secretary Treasurer/ General Manager and held that position for many years. Pauline Storks also served as Commissioner and Director for many years.
In January, 1974, the Village of Newcastle became part of the Town of Newcastle in the Region of Durham and they took over the electrical system calling it Newcastle Hydro. Due to considerable confusion over the Town of Newcastle name it was changed to the Municipality of Clarington and Newcastle Hydro was then changed to Clarington Hydro in 1985. In 1999, Ajax, Pickering and Clarington Hydro merged together to form Veridian Energy and they manage the supply of our electricity today.