Posted by: Cornwall Community Museum | October 21, 2015

Artifact of the Week. The Canada Mill and Thomas Edison, Cornwall.


This sepia photograph shows the Canada Mill the day Cornwall was “electrified.”

Canada’s first industrial facility to be electrically lighted was the Weave Shed at the Canada Mill, April 1883.

“The honour of turning on the power was reserved for Thomas Edison.  A tense silence swept over the crowd, (in attendance) as he waved his hand as a signal for the lowering of the gas lights.  Little by little, the room was enveloped in darkness.  Edison pulled the switch.  A momentary pause, a breathless suspense, and then the gentle humming sound of machinery broke the silence as a myriad of tiny glass globes flicked into a golden glow growing stronger and stronger – until brilliance.  The gasping crowd stood back in awe, gazing in wonderment at the marvelous spectacle before them.  Then, all at once, the din of the wild cheering shook the rafters of the enclosure.”

“Just a moment, a little technical difficulty arose.  In their eagerness to make the lighting as brilliant as possible, the electricians allowed the voltage to build up, burning out many globes shortly after they illuminated, and during the excitement Mr. Hitchcock and a troop of fellow workers scurried about the room with stepladders and baskets of globes, replacing those that failed.  But the experiment had been a success.”

(Excerpt from “The lights were on!”  M.J. Hitchcock, R. Hitchcock’s son, 1943 “Standard-Freeholder.”

scan0027 Cornwall Electric Manager C. Bacon presented this reproduction incandescent light bulb to the Cornwall Community Museum, marking the silver jubilee of the electric light.


An Edwardian era postcard showing the interior of the Weave Shed, the largest mill of its kind in the British Empire when constructed.


The exterior of the Canada Mill in the 1950s.  This photograph was taken by D. Barrett, Cornwall.scan0033

The original Canada electric light switchboard.  The board was still in service in 1931.  Photo courtesy:  Hydro One Archives, neg. HP620.scan0034


This generator is one of six units installed in the Weave Shed in 1883.  Photograph courtesy:  Hydro One Archives, Neg. HP 619.


Canada Cottons in the late 1940s.  The Dundas Mill is on the left, and the Canada Mill and Weave Shed on the right. The drydocks and Canal are in the forefront.

This is just a tiny segment of the photographs depicting the weave shed and Canadian Cottons in the archives at the Cornwall Community Museum available for viewing and copying.

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Cornwall Industry

A Cornwall Community Museum Blog

Cornwall Canal and Shipping History

A Cornwall Community Museum Publication

Cornwall Community Museum

In The Wood House at the waterfront, Cornwall, Ontario, Canada

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