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DeCew Falls Generating Station No. 1 - 1898
Built in 1898, DeCew Falls 1 is the oldest continually running hydroelectric power generating station in Canada. This plant uses the geographical features of the Niagara Escarpment to produce electricity.
In 1896, five Hamilton entrepreneurs, all named John (Dickenson, Gibson, Moodie, Patterson, and Sutherland) formed the Cataract Power Company of Hamilton Ltd., with a plan to generate and transmit electricity 56 km to the city of Hamilton. It was an audacious move at that time, since long distance transmission of electricity was still in its infancy. Originally intended for DeCew Falls itself, the project was instead located to the hamlet of Reynoldsville, later called Power Glen, to take advantage of the greater head of water at that point in the escarpment, and to use Twelve Mile Creek as a tailrace.
Construction on the station began in April 1897, and the first electricity was generated in August 1898. This makes it the oldest continually running hydroelectric power station in Canada.
The water for the station was drawn from the Third Welland Canal via a feeder canal originating at Allanburg, and was originally stored in three small reservoirs called Lakes Gibson, Moodie, and Patterson, located where Lake Moodie is now. The water flowed down the escarpment in a single penstock, and was discharged through two turbines into Twelve Mile Creek. Expansion work began very soon. New penstocks were built, the power house was extended, and in 1904 two huge new reservoirs, Lakes Moodie and Gibson, were created. Since Lake Gibson lay astride the water supply to the St. Catharines Waterworks, the aqueduct was abandoned and a weir at Allanburg split the feeder canal in two, one branch leading to Lake Gibson and the other to the waterworks.
TripClip Audio File
Click to play or download DeCew Falls Generating Station TripClip (mp3 format)
This destination is also part of the TripClip tour 'Touring the Twelve.'
Lookout from Tailrace Road at bottom of Power Glen:
From Toronto, QEW (Niagara) to Glendale Ave. Exit
Right on Glendale across 12 Mile Creek to Pelham Street
Left on Pelham Street to Power Glen Road
Left on Power Glen Road until you see an Ontario Power Generation sign indicating a right turn into the DeCew Falls Generating Station complex at Tailrace Road (the street name may be unmarked).
Travel south on this dead-end road as far as the gates of the DeCew Falls Generating Station.
Through the fence at the bottom of Tailrace Road, you can see the old red brick Power House which housed the original generators. Further right are the newer transformer buildings and powerhouses of DeCew II.
Please be careful not to block access or to trespass on power plant property!
Lookout from the Bruce Trail by Lake Moodie to see headworks:
From Toronto, QEW exit 49 to Hwy 406 and drive about 11 km
Right on St. Davids Road West
Left on Merrittville Hwy at the second stop light and drive about 1 km
Right on DeCew Road at lights, just before Lake Gibson and drive about 2 km
Right into the Morningstar Mill's little parking lot beside the Beaverdams Creek mill pond
If you come to the three way stop at Cataract Road you have gone too far
From the Morningstar Mill parking lot walk eastwards on the Bruce Trail following the Niagara Escarpment
The lookout is at a turn-around point on top of the escarpment.