The background of the provision of power should be briefly sketched. In the early 1930’s each village centre had its own privately owned and privately operated power plant. In Dawson Creek Mr. Arthur Everest owned and operated a small gasoline-powered generator, and had built lines to service businesses and some homes. Mr. Searey had a smaller unit in Pouce Coupe. The power went off at midnight unless some community event justified a request for an extension of time. Considering everything, the owners of the plants gave good service although power outages might occur at any time in case of breakdown. Candles and lamps were always on standby.
A large prairie company, Dominion Electric, had acquired many plants by buying out the independent owners and eventually they acquired Mr. Everest’s and Mr. Seary’s businesses. A new powerhouse appeared on 102nd Avenue and 12th Street in Dawson Creek and a one-lung Fairbanks-Morse engine was installed. For a while, the residents complained that there were more outages and dim-outs than before, but under Mr. Fred Stansfield, ex-navy engineer, service improved, especially when a larger power unit took over with the older unit on standby. The lines were rebuilt and extended.
Shortly before World War II the Sudeten refugees from the Hitler menace were settled on the abandoned Tate Creek Ranch to fulfill their commitment to farm in return for sanctuary in Canada. It did not take them long to find out what the “natives” had long since recognized. It was a ‘frost belt’ where grain all too often froze before it was ripened. Some of them moved away as soon as possible, others recognized that raising cattle and cutting the grain for green feed, was the more profitable enterprise. With characteristic n efficiency they organized and applied for a rural electrical power line. The milking machines and lighted barns would provide sufficient load to make it profitable to Dominion Electric. They got their line. Indignation in the older settled areas gave way to sober assessment of their responsibility to organize the old districts. The attached minutes of a meeting in the districts to the west showed that Mr. Leo Cyre and others had signed up a number of would-be customers in such a way as to meet the minimum mileage of line construction. The minutes also show costs of those days, for comparison with the new power lines from the new W.A.C. Bennett Dam.
In time, B.C. Electric bought out the old Dominion Electric and in turn became a part of the provincially owned B.C. Hydro and Power Corporation.
Few, if any, districts still lack a “hook-up”, and the new gas-fuelled power-house on the Alaska Highway is now, in its turn, obsolete.
This sketch can be greatly expanded, but to date the hoped-for history has been only promised. Also the history of the Dairy Pool has not been forthcoming.
A Special meeting of the residents of the farm districts [west of Dawson Creek], June 8. Thirty-fives present.
Mr. Dilworth was appointed a chairman and forthwith introduced the guest speakers who where Mr. Stansfield [Dominion Electric] and Mr. Carnell [MLA]. Mr. Carnell read a report on the last meeting held May 28. Chairman Dilworth asked Mr. Carnell to open the meeting with a few remarks. Mr. Stansfield then addressed the meeting and mentioned his previous visit a number of years earlier and said at that time he did not promise us the power at least if he did we did not get it energized around 250 farms since that time. Tomslake received the power because of the milk situation.
North Rolla cost about $122,000. Sunset Prairie and Groundbirch and Progress are offered the power but it seems logical that Sunrise Valley receive it first and go across the river on west. Cost for Sunrise would be $43,000 for 33 customers, an average of $1,274 per customer, therefore being over $1,000 per customer the Sunrise Valley estimate was thrown out.
Rural lines do not pay their own way but have to be supported by urban and metropolitan areas. [He] made mention of the Dominion Electric and Northland Utilities building of the power plant in Dawson Creek in 1937 and building as far as Rolla.
1st thing — Hydro Power. More Power sites will have to be built within the next decade.
2nd thing — We need more metropolitan distributing centres and so provide an impetus for rural electrification. The extension from L. Lemple farm to the microwave station has been approved owing to a donation being received from the P.G.E. so that assures Lindgren and Lazinchuck of receiving the power but from there West the power is kind of scarce.
People of Farmington cannot get the Power from the line that is now building to Taylor because the Power is too great [voltage too high?]. There would have to be another lighter line built but that would also cost a good deal of money. Now he asks the meeting to show him if there were more customers on the Farmington route than on the Bessborough route.
Poles are bought for $7.50, holes are dug for $5.00 per hole but we must also put the pole upright in the hole. Allowance is also made for brushing or we could donate cash. The Power Commission has a fairly heavy schedule of work for this summer and it is doubtful if this line could be built to Sunrise Valley.
Mr. Stansfield now closed his remarks and invited questions from the audience.
Mr. Cyre presents the map of the route he has made. G. Young asks the specs for poles which are 35’ long, 7″ tops.
432 poles $3,456.
477 Holes including anchor
clearing brush $1,641.
The main object of Mr. S. is to try and get the estimate down to $1,000 or less per mile. The Commission will put the poles right to the farmer’s house.
Extension to Tomslake is 750 min. Extension North Rolla is 750 min.
Question asked, is there a time limit to this Min. Answer: yes, in perpetuity.
1. KWH will do more work than one man will all day long.
Discontinued the use of bands. Cyre says there are eight customers east of Lazinchuk on the bar line.