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Business and History - The Consumers Gas Company

The Consumers Gas Company

This page was reproduced with permission from the Canadian Manufactures Association. The Canadian Manufacturers Association, renamed Canadian Manufacturers & Exporters, holds the Copyright for the text and images.

This information came from Industry '67 Centennial Perspective, published by The Canadian Manufacturers' Association in May 1967. The original document is accessible through Western Libraries Shared Catalogue.


Canadian Centennial Companies Logo

On the evening of September 17, 1847, aggrieved and indignant customers of Toronto's six year-old, privately-operated Gas Light and Water Company held a public meeting to protest and take action against the poor quality, irregular supply and inflated cost of the company's product. Unanimously, the meeting resolved to form a mutual ownership company to be operated for the benefit of the consumers of gas. Shares were duly soId, directors appointed, and in little more than six months a message arrived from Montreal via the new fangled telegraph to announce that The Consumers' Gas Company of Toronto had been incorporated by a special act of the parliament of the Province of Canada. The date was March 23, 1848, and on July 1 the new company took possession of the old company's works, which it had purchased, and issued its initial flow of better quality gas. In 1852 the company moved into a new office building at 19 Toronto Street and there, 115 years later, it still is.

In 1879, with the spectre of possible competition from electricity in view, an amendment to the charter was secured which permitted the manufacture and sale of electricity and the sale of gas for uses other than illumination. The forsighted action paid off between 1880 and 1890, when competition from electricity became a startling reality. By 1896 uses of gas other than for illumination consumed a fifth of the comany's total output.

Until 1954, the company continued in the manufactured gas business, distributing the fuel for lighting, cooking, water heating, house heating, commercial and industrial uses in the Metropolitan Toronto area.

"The Ideal Fuel for a Smokeless City" was consumbers' Gas marketing theme in the 1920's

 

By the early 1950's it had become obvious that manufactured gas was pricing itself out of the Toronto fuel market, and Consumers' Gas went after and obtained a supply of natural gas from the United States - to provide an economical and more efficient fuel for its customers and to build a market in advance of the arrival in Ontario of Canadian natural gas from Alberta via the world's longest pipeline.

When Consumers' first obtained natural gas in 1955, its service area (Metro Toronto only) was 179 square miles. By 1967 the total area had exceeded 1,624 square miles and continued to expand.

Niagara Gas Transmission Ltd., a wholly-owned subsidiary, operates a pipeline across the Ottawa River to supply La Societe Gazifere de Hull, Inc., operating in and around Hull, Quebec and another line, across the St. Lawrence River, supplying St. Lawrence Gas, Inc., in northern New York State. Both Gazifere de Hull and St. Lawrence Gas are wholly-owned Consumers' Gas subsidiaries.

From 1955 to 1967 continued growth enabled Consumers' to voluntarily reduce gas rates throughout the service area 19 times.

House heating, cooking, clothes drying, swimming pool heating, outdoor lighting and other uses continue to register growth.

The use of extensive underground gas storage facilities located in Southwestern Ontario enables Consumers' to purchase its annual requirements on a most economic basis. These storage arrangements are under long term agreements in fields owned by Union Gas Company of Canada Limited, and Tecumseh Gas Storage Limited, the latter owned jointly by Consumers' Gas and Imperial Oil Ltd.

A relatively small underground storage pool has been developed in the Niagara Peninsula and will be utilized to meet peak day requirements. The close proximity of this pool to market area increases its value in the over-all supply picture.