Let there be Light!

In 1884, Pembroke, Ontario became the first town in Canada to switch on electric street lights. The industrialist W.B. McAllister established generators along the Muskrat River to produce electricity. In 1889, McAllister along with several shareholders, founded the Pembroke Electric Light Company Ltd. In 1893, Pembroke Electric built a steam plant on Nelson St. behind Town Hall.


Modernizing Electric Power

In 1930, Pembroke Electric installed a 1250 horsepower Diesel electric engine - the largest in Canada at the time - at Pembroke St. West and Frank Nighbor St., the location of the Hydro Museum today. As Pembroke grew in size and the East end expanded, the station was upgraded to meet demand.


Growing Demand

Throughout the 1950s, Pembroke grew at an unexpected rate. In order to meet the demand of more power, Pembroke Electric established a new hydro station on Fraser St. Pembroke Hydro also had to serve power for Pembroke's growing industry. However, pulp and paper plants like Canadian Splint, Consolidated Paper, and Shook Mills created power by burning their woood scraps. They relied little on Hydro. Yet in 1957, Pembroke Electric built another station on Fischer and Third Ave. to meet hydro demands of the growing West end.


The End of an Era

By 1960, the main diesel generator of Pembroke Electric was aging and needed to be replaced. New hydro equipment was installed to meet these demands. In 1965 another station was installed on Mackay Street. But Pembroke Electric was not simply a hydro company. They also upgraded and maintained public and household electrical needs from street lights to lamps.


Pembroke Hydro is Born

On October 31, 1966, the town of Pembroke held a referendum for their citizens to vote on purchasing Pembroke Electric. A majority of the town voted in favour of buying the company. In 1967, Pembroke Hydro was formed. Pembroke residents now owned their own hydro.


Hydro Museum Founded

In 1984, the Pembroke Hydro Museum was founded in the building that housed the original diesel generator. The generator sits in the centre of the museum to this day.


Ottawa River Power Corporation

In 2000, when Ontario Hydro faced dergulation, Pembroke, Killaloe, Beachburg, and Mississippi Mills Hydro companies amalgamated to form the Ottawa River Power Corporation (ORPC). The Pembroke office is housed at the location of the Hydro Museum and original diesel plant. However, the ORPC could no longer operate and maintain electrical equipment for the town. They now only focused on hydro power.


Keeping it Local

In 2015, it was rumoured that the ORPC was up for sale. President Denis Montgomery quickly dispelled the rumours. Pembroke continues to own their hydro, maintaining some of the cheapest rates in Canada.