We're still in Abbotsford, but I had to post a couple of pictures of our day yesterday. We went to the decommissioned Stave Lake Hydroelectric station - what a cool thing to spend the day doing!
You may not know, but here in Nakusp we are on a hydroelectric reservoir. There are several dams up and down the Columbia River, creating our beloved (and temperamental) Upper and Lower Arrow Lakes. The dams provide power to BC, Alberta, and parts of the United States.
There are up and down sides to living here - living on the lake is beautiful, but the environmental impact of the water levels rising and falling is something that we deal with every day. There are summers when the water levels are not high enough to reach our boat docks - no fun for the tourists, but even worse for the fish and wildlife that depend on the vast quantities of fresh water that our lake provides. We have had years when the water was low enough that they had to seed all the exposed land with grass to prevent extreme erosion. There are times, too, when the water is so high that it seriously erodes waterfront land that is not in some way re-enforced (all wild waterfront and not a small number of privately owned lots, too). Please don't get me wrong - I understand the value of electricity! I do also think that hydroelectric generation is one of the lower impact ways to produce vast quantities - it's just that maybe, with the newer advances in solar and wind, there may be a change in the air. It's great to look forward and see other possibilities (with micro generation and local generation) on the horizon.
The Stave Lake Dam is not in any way connected to our own reservoir - this dam provided electricity to the Lower Mainland for 90 years, ending in 2000 - and in many ways contributed to Vancouver's growth as a city. Just look at these happy people with their food cooked in electric ovens, wearing their clothes washed with electric washing machines!
With the advent of electricity came all kinds of new ideas for ways it might be useful - the electric belt has got to be one of my very favorites. Not only can you have your dishes washed, food cooked and clothing sewn with electric appliances under electric lighting, but you can become a strapping specimen of masculinity as well! Believe it or not, these honeys were at one time available through the Sears catalogue! - Now at $18.00, you would really want to invest in your physical prowess (at the time you could, as a labourer, earn 37 cents an hour in your 48.5 hour work week).
It's interesting how people refer to these as 'simpler times' - I don't think they could have been simpler in terms of labour - perhaps people were more innocent, but they certainly 'made' their livings in a way that we just don't anymore. I would very certainly be unable to have my shop here if I had to make ALL of our family clothing and wash them (the clothes) in a wringer washer, cook ALL our bread (not just when I want to, like I do now), pluck our chickens for our evening meal, grow our vegetables in the garden, - well, you get the point. My personal feeling is that technology has done as much for women's liberation as the baby boomers did...would the women's movement have been possible if there was still the massive daily workload we once carried? Somehow I think that the average woman in the 1800's probably did want to break free of the grind of household governing, maintenance and management, she just didn't have the energy to at the end of the day. And besides, there were only candles and oil lamps to light her sleepless, thoughtful nights.