In the early 20th century, electricity was initially used mainly for street lights and running the streetcars. Only larger cities dared to venture into electricity.

Electrification evolved at a different pace in different regions of Quebec. Since the cost of electricity was very high, at first only a few wealthy citizens could afford to light their homes with this energy source. As the years went by, more and more families were able to afford this service.

The Shawinigan Water and Power Company

Industries also benefitted from electricity and one notable success story is that of the Shawinigan Water and Power Company. But how exactly is electricity produced? To make a long story short, first you need a river with a high water flow. Then you have to build a dam and then distribute this electricity with a network of wires.

The “Shawinigan”, as it was familiarly called, was able to exploit the Saint-Maurice River and attract power-intensive industries like pulp and paper, aluminum, and chemical products. It also promoted the use of electricity in homes by visiting towns and villages across central Quebec with its “traveling an all-electric kitchen.” It was every housewife’s dream!

However, it was not until the late 1920s that the first electrical appliances appeared in homes. Meanwhile, factories were profiting from electricity and were popping up in large numbers in Quebec to take advantage of the energy of our many rivers.

Today, every home in Quebec has access to electricity. The province’s electricity is now produced by Hydro-Quebec, a company publicly owned by all Quebeckers. Almost all the electricity in Quebec is produced by water power. In other words, it is made from the strong river currents.

Author: Service national du Récit de l’univers social

See also – Traces of the past: