Georgean Price shakes hands with John Hart electrician Kyle Beck after shutting down generator no. 5 at the John Hart Generating Station. Photo by Jocelyn Doll/Campbell River Mirror

Original John Hart generating station family shuts down the first turbine after 70 years of operation

Georgean Price, wife of the original manager of the generating station, flipped the switch on Monday

On Monday morning 98-year-old Georgean Price shut down turbine No.5 at the John Hart Generating Station.

Her late husband, Art Price, the first John Hart plant manager, was with John Hart to start up the first turbine at the generating station 70 years ago.

“It has been a lot of years and I remember how excited we were when the first turbine went into action, it was a Sunday I believe, and the whole province was excited,” Price said.

The first of six turbines to be shut down, Stephen Watson, BC Hydro spokesperson, said the next few will be shut down in early 2018 so that construction crews can work on the substation and begin the transition from the old site to the new site.

“It’s just another step in the process but today is about the history, celebrating the history of this facility and what it has done for the community,” Watson said.

The Price family lived in Hydro Hollow, a small community of houses that was once located beside the generating station for many years.

“I have such wonderful memories of growing up in the old hydro town site,” said Joan Miller, Price’s daughter. “The experience created strong bonds between the families that lived and worked together. Now, by participating as a community member on the liaison committee, it allows me to feel that in some small way our family will stay connected with the John Hart facility well into the future.”

Three generations of the Price family have been involved in Campbell River hydroelectric system with Miller, being one of two-dozen community members on Hydro’s liaison committee, and her brother and her son working on the project and inside the new underground powerhouse area.

Chris Thompson, Price’s grandson, has been working on the new powerhouse since the beginning.

“Seeing it before they even blasted out the hole underground, and now we are underground building that power house, it’s pretty special to see the whole project develop from just a hole in the ground to a big powerhouse,” he said.

Thompson is a pipe fitter with Co-Gen Mechanical, one of the contractors working on the project.

“It’s been special working on this project and thinking about him and my family and the roots we have here, it’s been a great experience,” he said.

Though his grandfather retired as plant manager before Thompson was born, he has many memories of visits to the site.

“We came through here and walked around and he showed us where everything was and where the house was and where they used to pick apples off the trees and go to school and the bus would pick them up,” he said.

In the fall of 2018, the new generating station is scheduled to be fully operational and all of the turbines in the old station will be shut down.

“Bit of mixed emotions for Hydro too…of course what is going to be great is the amazing facility that Inpower B.C. is building, it’s a fantastic facility, so unique,” Watson said.

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Georgean Price, widow of the first manager of the John Hart Generating Station, shut down the first of six generators. Photo by Jocelyn Doll/Campbell River Mirror

Georgean Price, widow of Art Price who was the first manager of the John Hart generating station, shut down the first of six generators in a process that begins the transition to the new generating station that is set to be complete in 2018/2019.

Georgean Price and her family, including her grandson Chris Thompson who is currently working as a pipefitter on the generating station project, gathered to witness their family history come full circle. Photo by Jocelyn Doll/Campbell River Mirror

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