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City of Hamilton

Q.   Why is Hamilton so receptive to Nikola Tesla?

A.  The simple answer is in Hamilton’s history.

The city of Hamilton was the 1st major city in Canada to have AC electrical power which was received from Decew Falls, Generating Station No. 1. Built in 1898, DeCew Falls 1 is the oldest continuously running hydroelectric power generating station in Canada.



The station was built by the “Five Johns” of Hamilton  (Dickenson, Gibson, Moodie, Patterson, and Sutherland). The Cataract Power Company, assembled the hydro-electric generating plant about 35 miles from Hamilton in 1898. Current flowed to the city for the first time on August 25, 1898.  The Hamilton Spectator August 26, 1898 when the article  “Power Turned On”  was published.


The city of Hamilton prospered immensely in the early 1900’s, with major manufacturing companies being established or opening branch plants in Hamilton. The massive investments in plants in the east end of Hamilton resulted in an increasing need of workers.  The population doubled in the first 14 year of the 20th century.   The Five Johns were successful in transmitting the power over a great distance, the second longest transition in the world at the time.  Hamilton reaped the rewards of their achievement and renamed itself  “The Electric City”. Electric City FINAL-2mgs

The city advertisement of “Hamilton’s cheap electricity” attracted even more industries.  The existing steel related plants quickly converted to electrical power as it was cheaper than other forms and sources of power.  With the abundance of the steel from the mills, other plants that required the steel established plants in Hamilton.  One of the most important new arrivals was Westinghouse.  After all, it was George Westinghouse who acquired Nikola Tesla’s Alternating Current patents that were the basis of the Decew Generating Station No. 1. The list of companies grew quickly and included;

  • Steel Company of Canada (Stelco)
  • Westinghouse
  • International Harvester
  • Otis Elevator
  • Canadian Canners Consolidated Companies Limited
  • Dominion Foundry & Steel Company(Dofasco)
  • Procter and Gamble

Tesla technology, helped to define the City in the last few years of the 19th and the early 20th centuries. Now Hamilton is poised to once again benefit from the recognition of Nikola Tesla. Tesla is synonymous with innovation. As the youth of Hamilton learns about Nikola Tesla, they will be inspired to new innovation.