Our history

How we became one of the leading electricity companies in Canada.

Each decade of our history has played an important role in our journey to becoming one of the leading electricity companies in Canada. A lot has changed since our inception in 1911, but our passion, dedication and determination to keep power flowing to the city of Toronto has remained a constant part of our story.

History of Toronto Hydro

Our major achievements, chronicled by decade.

  • In 2010, we launched Time-of-Use pricing to help customers better manage their bills
  • We launched an online power outage map to better inform customers of outages
  • In 2011, we launched social media channels on multiple platforms, allowing customers to communicate with us like never before
  • In 2012, we introduced My TorontoHydro®, a fully automated online customer service portal that allows customers to complete account transactions 24/7
  • In 2012, we unveiled the first energy storage system installed directly in an urban community
  • We launched a solar photovoltaic (PV) project with the City of Toronto to install 8,800 solar PV panels on 10 city-owned buildings
  • We unveiled Hydrostor, the world’s first underwater compressed air energy storage system
  • In 2013, we started construction on the new Clare R. Copeland Transformer Station, the first underground station in downtown Toronto, which will help increase electricity capacity in the downtown core
  • In 2015, we supported the Toronto Pan American/Parapan American Games by relocating and upgrading infrastructure to help with additional electricity demand
  • In 2016, we launched the first ever pole-top energy storage system as a pilot
  • In 2017, we announced — in collaboration with Metrolinx — plans for an Eglinton Crosstown Light Rail Transit storage system that's expected to provide emergency backup power to the mass transit line, while providing flexibility in peak demand reduction
  • Also in 2017, we worked with Plug'n Drive to launch the Electric Vehicle Discovery Centre in Toronto

  • Throughout the first decade of the millennium, we were named one of Canada’s Top 100 Employers
  • In 2001, we published our first sustainability report
  • Also in 2001, we began powering 100 vehicles with low-sulphur diesel and soy-based biodiesel fuel
  • Together with the Toronto Renewable Energy Co-operative, we built a 65-metre-tall wind turbine at Exhibition Place. It was erected in December 2002 and began generating electricity in January 2003
  • In 2004, we launched the first smart meter installations to approximately 500 customers

  • In 1997, we launched our website
  • On January 1, 1998, Bill 103 amalgamated six municipal electric utilities into one (Toronto Hydro), nearly tripling our customer base to approximately 650,000 customers
  • To help restore power after the ice storm of January 1998, we sent approximately 350 employees to eastern Ontario and southern Quebec. Crews worked 12 to 20 hours a day and coped with cold, harsh conditions and unfamiliar equipment – all with zero injuries
  • In July 1999, Toronto Hydro incorporated and the City of Toronto became our sole shareholder

  • In the early 1980s, computerized information systems started to play a vital role in operations. We prepared for the introduction of a customized supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA) system, which enabled operators to accurately and remotely monitor the distribution system and respond more quickly to emergencies
  • As we began moving towards digital/electronic processes, so too did most other Toronto corporations. Desktop computers, printers, networks and photocopiers were examples of popularized technologies that required power

  • In the early 1970s, we had 1,159 employees. Of these, almost 24% had reached the "quarter century" mark, and 6% had served 40 or more years
  • As we became more environmentally conscious, Toronto Hydro introduced energy conservation programs and incentives to many of our customers
  • We also introduced various energy conservation and load management techniques to our operations at 14 Carlton Street, including setting the temperature lower at night during the winter, removing fluorescent lamps from fixtures that were not in work areas and installing solar reflective film on windows to reduce the air conditioning load in the summer

  • During the 1960s, the convenience of electricity was heavily promoted. This included electric heating for single residential homes and apartments, air conditioning, numerous large and small kitchen appliances, and new lighting options
  • The use of electricity was expanding both at home and in the workplace. Most households had televisions, stereo systems and many electric appliances. In the workplace, electric typewriters replaced manual models
  • On January 13, 1968, Toronto was hit with three days of freezing rain and wet snow. Building roofs collapsed and thousands of homes and businesses lost power. In addition to our line crews, more than 500 employees volunteered after their regular shift, working throughout the night to help restore power. For their service, radio station CKEY awarded the "Good Citizen Award" to our employees

  • Between 1945 and 1955, the city’s kilowatt-hour consumption increased by 75%. This was due to the post-war baby boom and high immigration. The dramatic growth had our staff working hard to keep up. New electrical substations were required and built — some of them disguised as houses
  • In the 1950s, the electrical system was rewired from 25 cycles to 60 cycles. Over 200,000 meters were replaced and 12 new stations were built

  • In the event of an attack during the Second World War, Toronto Hydro was responsible for the disconnection of streetlighting, shutting down electricity to the TTC and turning off lighting in our own buildings
  • During WWII, we appealed to our customers to conserve. Electricity consumption for signs, show-windows, displays and advertising was banned. Streetlighting was reduced by approximately 20%. Daylight savings time was extended throughout winter to reduce the afternoon peak electrical load. This increased efficiency created a profit that Toronto Hydro passed down to our customers in temporary rate reductions

  • During the Depression of the 1930s, demand for electricity decreased for the first time. This meant there was less work to be done. In order to help protect jobs, unionized workers agreed to reduce their work hours from 44 a week to 40. Some layoffs were necessary, but the jobs were offered back to employees in 1940 when electricity consumption picked up again
  • Throughout the 1930s, new lighting made night baseball games at Maple Leaf Stadium and softball games at Sunnyside Stadium very popular. Hockey fans cheered when Maple Leaf Gardens opened in 1932, with its ice surface lit by over one hundred 1,000-watt lamps
  • By 1934 — Toronto’s centennial — the city had approximately 920 kilometres of paved streets, 800 kilometres of which were lit by electricity. The lighting was more for sidewalks, but with the increase in auto traffic, accidents became more common. It wasn’t until after the Second World War that streetlighting was upgraded to make driving safer
  • With the outbreak of WWII in 1939, Toronto Hydro was concerned about the security of our substations. Employees built high chain-link fences around them and operators were sworn in as Special Constables. Special passes were issued to employees who might require access to the stations

  • On March 31, 1926, a severe ice and sleet storm tore through Toronto, lasting much of the day and evening. The east end of the city bore the brunt of it, and poles snapped, blocking streets and bringing down powerlines. Our crews rallied, and service was restored by midnight to customers who had experienced a power interruption of approximately 13 hours
  • This decade also saw the launch of the first electrically-powered trolley bus and first set of electric traffic lights

  • Electricity first came to Toronto in the late 1880s
  • A number of private companies were formed, and soon downtown stores and the homes of the rich glowed in electric light
  • In 1908, Toronto citizens voted overwhelmingly to form a municipal electricity company. The official "turning on" ceremony, marking the beginning of Toronto Hydro-Electric System, took place at Old City Hall on May 2, 1911