Quest in Roots:
Brookdale Manitoba History

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During the post World War I period of prosperity some homes and businesses had delco plants installed to furnish electricity. These delco plants were battery operated. The batteries were re-charged by generators, usually run by gasoline motors which chugged constantly during the peak requirement of power. When the motor ran, the lights flickered. These plants furnished lights and power for the washing machine, iron, cream separator and the fanning mill used to clean grain.

In the depression years they were often considered too expensive to operate. Wind electric plants began to appear in the 1930''s, but in periods of calm weather, these were not too satisfactory.

Hydro began to make its appearance in the rural areas in the late 30''s, but World War II interrupted the Manitoba Hydro Plans for farm electrification.

Hyrdo power was "turned on" in the village of Brookdale April 29, 1946. It was extended to the surrounding farms in 1947.

The rural electrification plan specified that each household purchase at least two major appliances and three minor ones. As evidence of good faith, each household made a down payment of $60 which was refunded as people used the electricity and fulfilled their obligations. The hydro supplied the yard pole and the transformer and the farmer had to buy the extra wiring needed, any extra poles required, the fixtures, appliances, in short everything beyond the yard pole! All the wiring and electrical work must pass inspection.

Because local electricians could not meet the demand, contractors came from as far away as Winnipeg to complete the project.

What a change the farm electrification plan made to life on the farm! How glad the housewife was to be done with the daily chore of cleaning lamp glasses and replenishing the coal oil in the lamps! The electric light gave a lot better light and it was much easier to flick a switch rather than light a lamp and carry it to another room. It was so much easier to use an electric iron than to use a "sad" iron that had to be heated on the wood burning stove.

Refrigerators, washing machines, stoves, deep freezers, vacuum cleaners, mixers, driers, all run by hydro power, were some of the vast array of appliances that made housekeeping so much more pleasant.

Later, the oil and propane burning furnaces, thermostatically controlled made homes more comfortable and cleaner. Those who chose to heat their homes with electricity needed no chimney.

Indoor plumbing has been made possible largely due to electricity.

The farmer found he used electricity in many ways. The barn and outbuildings were better lighted, electric motors pumped water, ran milking machines, cream separators, milk coolers, grain crushers, hammer mix mills, augers, water heaters, ventilation fans, welders, power tools, etc. Block heaters enabled farmers to use cars, trucks and tractors in cold weather.

Electricity has replaced labour in so many instances, has been cheaper and often more efficient.

It is perhaps not an exaggeration to say that the farm electrification program has revolutionized farming and rural life.


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