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DeCew Falls Generating Station No. 1 - 1898

DeCew Falls Generating Station at the base of the Niagara Escarpment. Note iron penstocks descending from the top of the escarpment, which carry water from the Lake Moodie and Lake Gibson reservoirs above. The base flow of 12 Mile Creek (left of photo) is increased by as much as 95% by the addition of water from the penstocks. The water is drawn from Lake Erie via the Welland Canal and transported along the hydro canal system from Allanburg to the edge of the escarpment. Photo courtesy Ontario Power Generation.

General Information


Built in 1898, DeCew Falls 1 is the oldest continually running hydroelectric power generating station in Canada. This plant uses the geographical features of the Niagara Escarpment to produce electricity.


In 1896, five Hamilton entrepreneurs, all named John (Dickenson, Gibson, Moodie, Patterson, and Sutherland) formed the Cataract Power Company of Hamilton Ltd., with a plan to generate and transmit electricity 56 km to the city of Hamilton. It was an audacious move at that time, since long distance transmission of electricity was still in its infancy.  Originally intended for DeCew Falls itself, the project was instead located to the hamlet of Reynoldsville, later called Power Glen, to take advantage of the greater head of water at that point in the escarpment, and to use Twelve Mile Creek as a tailrace.

Construction on the station began in April 1897, and the first electricity was generated in August 1898. This makes it the oldest continually running hydroelectric power station in Canada.

The water for the station was drawn from the Third Welland Canal via a feeder canal originating at Allanburg, and was originally stored in three small reservoirs called Lakes Gibson, Moodie, and Patterson, located where Lake Moodie is now. The water flowed down the escarpment in a single penstock, and was discharged through two turbines into Twelve Mile Creek.  Expansion work began very soon. New penstocks were built, the power house was extended, and in 1904 two huge new reservoirs, Lakes Moodie and Gibson, were created. Since Lake Gibson lay astride the water supply to the St. Catharines Waterworks, the aqueduct was abandoned and a weir at Allanburg split the feeder canal in two, one branch leading to Lake Gibson and the other to the waterworks.



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Click to play or download DeCew Falls Generating Station TripClip (mp3 format)

This destination is also part of the TripClip tour 'Touring the Twelve.'



Hours of Operation

Not open to the public, but visible from the Bruce Trail and Power Glen / Tailrace Road.


Lookout from Tailrace Road at bottom of Power Glen:

From Toronto, QEW (Niagara) to Glendale Ave. Exit

Right on Glendale across 12 Mile Creek to Pelham Street

Left on Pelham Street to Power Glen Road

Left on Power Glen Road until you see an Ontario Power Generation sign indicating a right turn into the DeCew Falls Generating Station complex at Tailrace Road (the street name may be unmarked).

Travel south on this dead-end road as far as the gates of the  DeCew Falls Generating Station.

Through the fence at the bottom of Tailrace Road, you can see the old red brick Power House which housed the original generators. Further right are the newer transformer buildings and powerhouses of DeCew II.

Please be careful not to block access or to trespass on power plant property!


Lookout from the Bruce Trail by Lake Moodie to see headworks:

From Toronto, QEW exit 49 to Hwy 406 and drive about 11 km

Right on St. Davids Road West

Left on Merrittville Hwy at the second stop light and drive about 1 km

Right on DeCew Road at lights, just before Lake Gibson and drive about 2 km

Right into the Morningstar Mill's little parking lot beside the Beaverdams Creek mill pond

If you come to the three way stop at Cataract Road you have gone too far

From the Morningstar Mill parking lot walk eastwards on the Bruce Trail following the Niagara Escarpment

The lookout is at a turn-around point on top of the escarpment.

Further Information

IEEE (pronounced Eye-triple-E) Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, Inc. History Centre: history_center aboutus web www.ieee.org http:/www.ieee.org/web/aboutus/history_center/decew.html

Mayer, Tiffany. DeCew marks 110 years of producing power. The Standard. Retrieved from history_center aboutus web www.ieee.org http:/www.stcatharinesstandard.ca/ArticleDisplay.aspx?e=1277542

history_center aboutus web www.ieee.org http:/http://community.webshots.com/photo/fullsize/2183854230049197489QKmFzU


Ownership & Management

Ontario Power Generation
The Niagara Plant Group


DeCew Falls Generating Station No. 1
15 Lockhart Drive
St. Catharines, Ontario
L2T 4C6

GPS Co-ordinates

Latitude 43.118474003
Longitude -79.2645259787
UTM easting 641185
UTM northing 4775433


DeCew Falls Generating Station No. 1

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