Then & Now Montreal – Montreal Light, Heat & Power – Poste Adélard Godbout
By Dick Nieuwendyk – mtltimes.ca
In 1837, the Montreal Gas Light Company (MGLC) was the first to provide gas lighting in the streets of Montreal. The New City Gas Company, acquired the assets of the MGLC in1849. In 1886, the Royal Electric Company, founded by Rodolphe Forget, was the first company to install electric lighting in the streets of Montreal.
Herbert Samuel Holt laid the groundwork for what would become the vast industrial and financial empire of Montreal Light, Heat and Power Company (MLHPC). in 1901 Holt succeeded in merging the Montreal Gas Company and the Royal Electric Company. He quickly turned the new company into one of the largest industrial empires in Canada. One of the most influential men of his day, Holt for many years was president of Montreal Light, Heat & Power, the Royal Bank of Canada, and Montreal Trust.
In order to meet the growing demand for electricity in Montreal, the MLHPC commissioned Montreal architect Maurice Perrault to build a power station on Wellington Street. Construction was started in 1901 and finished in 1904. The post was called Central-1, Canada’s first electrical substation designed for the processing and distribution of electricity generated by power plants in Lachine, built in 1897, and Chambly, built between 1897 and 1899.
In the 1930s and early 40s, production and electricity distribution companies are prosperous but strongly criticized. They are accused of inflated prices, poor service, questionable accounting practices and arrogance at the attempts of the government to regulate the sale of electricity.
In 1943, the Liberal government of Premier Adélard Godbout called for the nationalization of the MLHPC. The decision was made to expropriate the electricity and gas assets of the Montreal Light, Heat & Power. Management of the new company was assigned to a provincial corporation: the Québec Hydro-Electric Commission. Thus, on April 14, 1944, Hydro-Québec was born. The new Crown corporation ran both electric and gas operations until 1957, when its gas properties were sold to the Corporation de gaz naturel du Québec, known today as Gaz Métropolitain.
On September 27, 2007, in a ceremony attended by then Premier Jean Charest, the electrical power station at the corner of Wellington and Queen streets, known as Poste Central-1 was named Adélard Godbout position in 2007 to mark the 50th anniversary of the death of the 15th Premier of Québec under which the first phase of nationalization of hydroelectricity was conducted in 1944. A bust of Godbout by sculptor Joseph-Émile Brunet has been installed in front of the building.
Over the years the post has undergone several changes in the supply and distribution voltages. From the early years, it received 12 kV power from the Lachine plant and 25 kV from the Chambly plant. Between 1925 and 1941, several stations in the metropolitan area, including Adélard Godbout, were connected to create the first belt line at 60 kV. In 1951 a second control building was commissioned to accommodate the equipment to 120 kV. In 1967, Central-2 post was built near the Adelard Godbout station to meet growing electricity demands. Between 2000 and 2004 many repairs and restoration of the station were carried out including the repair of cracks on the main facade. Poste Adélard Godbout is located at 733 Wellington Street between Queen and Prince Streets in Montreal.
Source: Hydro Quebec / Wikipedia / Encyclopedia.com / Griffintowntour.com