by James Sturgis
On October 11, 1910, the premier of Ontario, Sir James Whitney, prepared to "switch on" hydro power for the first time. Graciously, he reached for Adam Beck's hand and said, "Gentlemen, with this hand which has made this project complete, I now turn on the power."
Born in Baden, Ontario, Adam Beck became a prosperous businessman and Mayor of London, in addition to representing that city for many years in the Ontario Legislature. He devoted himself wholeheartedly and tirelessly to the campaign for public power in the province. He was knighted for his efforts, but his aggression and stubbornness made him many enemies within the newly created Ontario Hydro Commission, of which he was chairman.
Deeply involved in provincial politics, even in later life, Beck was unable to give up his political struggles, and when he died in 1925, he was still full of schemes for extending the uses of hydro power.