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Our history

Historic photo of inside Bennett Dam

How we started

BC Hydro was created in 1962 when the government of B.C., under Premier W. A. C. Bennett, passed the BC Hydro Act. This act led to the expropriation of the BC Electric Company and its merging with the BC Power Commission, to create the British Columbia Hydro and Power Authority. 

This allowed for the development of major power projects that are the backbone of our electricity system today. Between the 1960s and 1980s, BC Hydro completed six large hydroelectric generating projects. The first on the Peace River, W. A. C. Bennett Dam, created a reservoir for the Gordon M. Shrum Generating Station. When it was completed in 1968, the dam was the largest earth-filled structure ever built. In 1980, Peace Canyon, a smaller concrete dam was completed downstream closer to Hudson's Hope.

The 1964 Columbia River Treaty between Canada and the U.S. allowed for the construction of three dams, Duncan, Keenleyside, and Mica, to regulate the flow of the Columbia River, providing flood control and enabling the construction of large power plants along the river and its tributaries. This included Revelstoke Dam, which was completed in 1984.

Restructuring during the 1980s created new BC Hydro subsidiaries for testing and research services (Powertech Labs) and electricity trade activities (Powerex). The launch of several innovative programs, including Power Smart in 1989, signified a change in direction for the company. 

About BC Electric Company

BC Electric Company began as the British Columbia Electric Railway, streetcar, and lighting utility, in Victoria, Vancouver, and New Westminster in 1897. Power was generated by coal-fired steam plants. Increasing demand for electricity led to the development of hydroelectric generation at Buntzen Lake and Stave Lake

About the BC Power Commission

The BC Power Commission was established with the Electric Power Act in 1945 by Premier John Hart. The mandate of the Power Commission was to merge various independent existing power and generating facilities across the province not served by BC Electric and extend service to many smaller communities without power.

Learn more about our history through our retiree program, BC Hydro Power Pioneers