Ontario Electrical Construction Company Limited (OEC) was incorporated on July 27, 1929. Jack Greenland, Frank Dahmer and Archie Wright were President, Vice President and Secretary-Treasurer. A mere three months after incorporation the New York Stock Market crashed and plunged the world into the Great Depression.
Business in the 1930’s was challenging, but from the offices at 66 Temperance Street in downtown Toronto the company managed numerous projects including our first major contract - the Eaton College Street store, a building ahead of its time.
The end of the 1930’s saw the advent of WWII and many stalwarts avoided the draft by volunteering (it was the thing to do in those days.) Fortunately there were enough diligent, capable workers left and it was their hard work that set the company tradition of excellence that all others have tried to emulate. In those days our customer base included Massey Ferguson, Bell Canada and the CBC. The head office stayed in downtown Toronto moving from Temperance Street to Pearl Street.
The war in Europe ended on May 7, 1945 - VE Day. It was also the first day of Robert (Roy) Spence’s electrical apprenticeship. Fittingly enough, he started work at Victory Soy Mills on the lakeshore and his employer was Ontario Electrical Construction. Roy would work for the next 50 years at OEC rising from that young apprentice (who had to walk home on his first day because of the celebrations on Yonge Street) to a journeyman then project manager and eventually to become the president of the company.
The end of the war signaled the beginning of both the baby boom and a construction boom in Ontario. The late 1940’s and the 1950’s saw Ontario Electrical expand our presence in the province to meet the needs of a vibrant manufacturing base. Offices were opened in Niagara Falls, Kingston and North Bay. Customers included General Abrasives in the Falls; Queen’s University and Alcan in Kingston; and Kidd Creek Mines in Timmins. In 1950 the Toronto Office moved from Pearl Street to 494 King Street East where it would stay for the next 50 years.
Continued growth and innovation marked the 1960’s for OEC. Larger and larger projects were starting up throughout the city and one of the largest was the proposed multi-storey TD Bank Tower at King & Bay. In order to tackle a job of this magnitude a Joint Venture (unique at the time) was formed by three of the major electrical contractors of the day. ACO (Ainsworth-Canada-Ontario) was put together to perform the work and share the risk. Over a ten year period ACO completed three major projects: TD Bank Tower; McMaster University Medical Science Building and the Gateway Postal Facility in Mississauga.
While participating in the Joint Venture, OEC also formed DAWCO Electric based in Montreal. One of our major customers in that day was Simpson’s and they invited us to work in Quebec. DAWCO, which still operates in Quebec, was a subsidiary of OEC until 1980 when it was sold to local interests.
At this time a significant step in the history of OEC was the rapid growth of our Northern Ontario offices in North Bay and Sudbury. Under the leadership of Area Manager, Kurt Neubig, projects were undertaken all across Northern Ontario. Schools, mines, shopping centres, and universities were completed.
The 1970’s, 80’s and 90’s were years of typical construction cycles – boom or bust. Ontario Electrical continued to succeed by sticking to what we do best – electrical installation.
Some of our landmark projects were completed in this period:
- Roy Thompson Hall Toronto
- Science North Sudbury
- Queen’s University - School of Business Kingston
- Sunnybrook Hospital - `M` Wing Toronto
- Timmins Hospital Timmins
- Ontario Ministry of Agriculture & Rural Kitchener –Waterloo
- Ford Motor Company – Multiple Plants Oakville
- University of Toronto - Isabel Bader Theatre Toronto
- Glencore formally Xstrata Nickel - Multiple Mining Projects Sudbury
- Vale Formally Inco – Multiple Mining Projects Sudbury
OEC marked the turn of the century by moving our head office to 7 Compass Court in Scarborough. We had been a fixture on King Street East for 50 years but the downtown core was changing and we had outgrown the properties.
New offices and new faces saw tremendous growth and large contracts as OEC continued our tradition of being a leader on the construction scene.
The following is a partial list of major projects we are proud to have been part of:
- Sick Kids Research Tower Toronto
- The TIFF Bell Lightbox Toronto
- North Bay Regional Health Centre North Bay
- UOIT – Energy Research Centre Oshawa
- Sudbury Regional Health Centre Sudbury
- Lakeridge Regional Health Centre Oshawa
- Hotel Dieu Redevelopment Kingston
- Peterborough Regional Health Centre Peterborough
- Laurentian University Multiple Projects Sudbury
- Southlake Regional Health Centre Newmarket
- Xstrata Mining Sudbury
- St. Michael’s Hospital Toronto
- Credit Valley Hospital Mississauga
Healthcare projects and research towers are complex ventures that involve normal and emergency power; sophisticated life safety systems and massive amounts of lighting. But every project and every customer is important. Whether it be a mine in Sudbury or a school in Mattawa; an office building in Toronto or a university building in Oshawa, Ontario Electrical Construction is committed to installing a top quality electrical system.