Nothumberland Light and Power Company Limited

The Northumberland Light and Power Company Limited brought Thomas Edison’s invention of electricity and power to the northern regions of Nova Scotia.

Electricity made its first bright appearance on the North Shore of Nova Scotia during the week of July 11, 1928. Northumberland Light and Power Company Limited brought light and power to residents and businesses in Malagash, Pugwash, River John, Tatamagouche, Wallace, and other surrounding communities.

The Northumberland Light and Power Company was incorporated October 5, 1927, headed by Walter I. Snook. Snook was a professional engineer who was born and raised in Truro. After high school, he studied, trained, and worked in his chosen field from the east to the west coasts of Canada and back. Snook was instrumental in overseeing many of the first sources of hydro power in communities throughout Nova Scotia before becoming the managing director of the Northumberland Light and Power Company and Cobequid Power.

In 1927, Snook purchased two hectares next to Waugh's River in a community known as The Falls. The location was ideal for a power plant as there was a small waterfall and high, narrow banks along the waterway. Construction began in 1927 on the main powerhouse building, dams, hydraulic and electrical equipment as well as hundreds of kilometres of power lines. The log crib, rock fill, planked-faced dam measured over 36-metres long and 4-metres high. A wooden flume supplied the water from the falls to the powerhouse, which was located 320 metres below the dam. The flume was built in the tongue and groove style and measured nearly a metre in diameter. The lumber boards were shaped into a circle and held together with iron hoops. Much further upstream at the outlet of Earltown Lake, a concrete dam was constructed to create a water reserve for when water levels in Waugh's River became too low to operate the hydroelectric generating station. The plant cost of $65,000 to construct and was completed in 1928. At the time, the company had 600 subscribers along the North Shore.

The powerhouse first contained a 190hp water turbine, however, a Diesel engine was later added, producing twice the amount of electricity by 1930. By 1931, hundreds of thousands of metres in wire had been installed, reaching as far as Pugwash and River John. The starting price per home in 1928 was $2.00 per month for those that could afford it.

By 1930, the Cobequid Power Company had installed power lines in communities along the Cobequid Bay, bringing power from the Nothumberland Light and Power Company to Bass River, Belmont, Debert, Glenholme, Great Village, Londonderry and places in between. These electrical innovations allowed for easier lifestyles particularly with the rise of electrical farming equipment. This created greater productivity and prosperity for communities throughout Colchester County. 

The Nothumberland Light and Power Company was purchased by the Nova Scotia Light and Power Company in 1951, and the powerhouse at The Falls was dissembled the following year.

Today, the ruins of Northumberland Light and Power Company can still be found along Waugh's River about 6 km south of Tatamagouche and 43.2 km north of Truro, off of Route 311. It is a popular swimming and fishing spot for locals.