The Business of Power


199 pages
Contains Photos, Illustrations, Maps, Bibliography, Index
ISBN 1-55039-081-3
DDC 333.793'215'097116





Reviewed by Richard G. Kuhn

Richard G. Kuhn is an associate professor of geography at the University
of Guelph.


In a skilfully researched fashion, Jeremy Mouat provides a history of
hydroelectricity development in southeastern British Columbia.
Recounting the personalities and legacies of the founders of West
Kootenay Power, the bravado of the workers, conflicts with the
Doukhobors, and the institutional history of a major utility, his
account is highly engaging. Detailed footnotes provide additional
information as well as a list of references for further reading.

Mouat correctly notes that the history of Kootenay Power is more than
just depicting the fortunes of one company. Rather, it is a microcosm of
a process that saw electricity become an integral part of all of our
lives. Beginning with the emergence and commercialization of electricity
in the 19th century, including its spectacular debut at the 1893 Chicago
World’s Fair, the focus shifts to uniquely Canadian initiatives
including the completion of the Trans-Canada Railway and the opening of
the Cominco Trail smelter. As the demand for electricity surged
throughout the 20th century, so did the fortunes of West Kootenay Power.
The political intrigue and wrangling are all nicely captured.

The use of archival photographs and explanatory boxes throughout the
volume add to its richness. The only omission is the presence of a clear
map. This book is highly recommended.


Mouat, Jeremy., “The Business of Power,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed June 14, 2024,