Life Members – Hamilton and Kitchener-Waterloo Joint Sections (LM70003)

A Life Member Chapter has been formed with the Hamilton Section. Bert de Kat is the acting Chair and the Chapter was initiated at a meeting on May 28 2003 with 9 LMs getting together over lunch at the Plainsman.
After a couple of years inviting Kitchener Waterloo members to their meetings, the arrangement was formalized in the creation of a joint Affinity Group on 2017-Oct-17.

2015-2021 Life Chair Barry Butwell
2018-2021 Life Vice-chair Dwight Aplevich
2015-2017 Life Vice-chair Bert de Kat
2017 K/W Representative Dwight Aplevich
2015 Life Chair Frank Barnard (deceased)
2014 Life Chair Bert de Kat


Life Member status is granted automatically after age 65 when 40 years of membership have been paid for.

There is no charge for membership, but an annual filing with IEEE headquarters is required.


Hamilton Life Members have two luncheon meetings a year with the Kitchener/Waterloo Life Members, typically the third Wednesday in May and October.
Meetings are listed on the Section website using vTools

Life Member Representatives

2022 IEEE Canada Life Member Representative – Terry Branch
2017 IEEE Canada Life Member Representative – John Harris
2013 IEEE Canada Life Member Representative – Mo El Hawary (deceased)
Past IEEE Canada Life Member Representative – Ron Potts (deceased)

First Long Distance Telephone Call Milestone

Milestone Commemorative

Pictures of the milestone dedication Decew pictures page

IEEE Global History Network listing is now on Engineering Technology History Wiki

Decew Falls Generating Plant Milestone

Milestone Commemorative

The submission by the Hamilton Section Life Member Chapter for a milestone for The Decew Falls Hydro-Electric Plant has been approved as an IEEE Milestone in Electrical Engineering & Computing by the IEEE Executive Committee. .The citation reads

  • “The Decew Falls Hydro-Electric Development was a pioneering project in the generation and transmission of electrical energy at higher voltages and at greater distances in Canada. On 25 August 1898 this station transmitted power at 22,500 Volts, 66 2/3 Hz, two phase, a distance of 56 km to Hamilton Ontario. Using the higher voltage permitted efficient transmission over that distance”.

The commemorative plaque ceremony will be held at the plant site in St Catharines on Sunday 2004 May 02.
Everyone please note that ” —” are the wording for the plaque exactly as given by Mike Geslowitz Director IEEE History Center in an Email dated 2003-Dec-12.

Significant dates:
Plant Construction started October 5 1897

First Power sent to Hamilton 35 miles distant August 25 1898 voltage was 22,500 volts with a single penstock delivered 9000 hp of usable power.
On August 25th 1898 the DeCew Falls Generating Station power with 2-1000 kW, 66 2/3 Hz. Generators transmitted power to Hamilton, a distance of 56 kilometres (35 miles) at 22,500 volts.The plant used a 7.2 kilometre diversion canal with a single penstock 1.8 metres in diameter supplying water to the original turbines with a head of 81 metres (263 feet).

Historic Significance of this work:
The original 4 Generators (2 were installed in 1898 & 2 in 1903) were 66 2/3 hertz , at the time there was no frequency standard. In 1911 units 4,5,6 & 7 were added. In 1918 units 8 & 9 were added. In 1974 units 0,1,2 & 3 were removed. In 1989 unit 4 was destroyed. In 1991 unit 9 was mothballed (due to lack of water). The plant output at its peak was 52,000 horsepower. Presently 6 units numbered 4 through 9 are on site. Units 5, 6, 7 & 8 are operating. Units 4 through 9 are all the same size.

Decew Falls plant was the earliest major plant on the Canadian side diverting water from the Lake Erie level of the Welland Canal at Allenburgh and constructing a 7.6 km (4.75 mile) canal to the Niagara Escarpment just east of Decew Falls.

Three large generating stations were built on the Canadian side of the Niagara River above Niagara Falls, after Decew Falls was in operation, but until Sir Adam Beck No. 1 was built in 1916. Decew Falls plant had the highest head 83 metres (263 feet) almost the full drop between Lake Eire and Lake Ontario 100 metres (325 feet).

The Decew Falls plant generated at a frequency of 66 2/3 Hertz and these machines were slowed down to become the standard 60 Hertz frequency now in use. There was no grid system at the time requiring a number of alternators located at several distant points, to operate in synchonism. Thus, any frequency dictated by local requirements could be used. Possibly 66 2/3Hz was chosen at Decew Falls because it is an integral multiple of 16 2/3 from which 25 and 50 Hz can be obtained by merely reconnecting the machine.
The basic design of the plant using a forebay and penstock design with the turbines and generators at the same elevation has endured as distinct from the “dead end” wheel pit design. The Decew Falls Plant remains in operation today whereas all its contemporaries generating at 25 Hertz have since been decommissioned and in most cases demolished.

Features and characteristics that differ from other milestones:
It was the first power development that provided polyphase power for commercial use over transmission lines to loads in Hamilton 56 km (35 miles) distant from the Niagara area. The intake block and part of the original building remain at the original site

Decew Falls Power Plant’s operating date falls between that of Adams Plant No.1 (ca 1985) and Adams Plant No.2 (ca 1902). Both of the Adams Plants generated 2-phase power at 25 Hz and converted it to 3-phase using a transformer designed by Charles Scott. Decew Falls differs from the Adams Plant No.1 by both generating and transmitting 3-phase alternating current at a distance greater (35 vs. 20 miles) than the Adams Plant.

IEEE Global History Network listing is now on Engineering Technology History Wiki


Events are now listed with other meetings on the Section website

There are generally two meetings per year with lunch and a speaker.

  • They also do a lot of work on special projects with correspondence by email.

Some Links

Life Member Funding pdf document
Life Member 2017 Expense Spreadsheet (broken link)

(Page updated: 2019-Oct-15)