History of the Blackwood family in Dunster, British Columbia

an example of an old Pelton Wheel generator system similar to the one at the Blackwood farm.

Alternate Power at the Blackwood Farm

In the early 1930's Robert Blackwood installed a hydro electric power system at the farm. The province did not provide electrical service to the Dunster area until 20 years later so the Blackwood family relied on coal oil lamps for light.


He designed the system based on engineering books he had purchased. From the books he determined how much water pressure was necessary to drive the water wheel and turbine. Fortunately Blackwood hill above the farm was quite steep and running by the farm and the road was a year round creek. So he created a pipe that was set in the creek some 45 vertical feet above the shop, under which was place the water wheel and turbine, pulleys etc. To create the pipe he split cedar planks, banded them together  and created an octagon pipe . This meant the water wheel which had additional pulleys could power other tools besides the generator which provided electricity. With the tremendous water pressure it also drove a lathe, band saw, circular saw, fanning mill, feed grinder and more. 

His daughter Beatrice recalls " I can still remember him working on the system and coming to house at times to read the book again and going back out again - over and over ".


As a boy visiting the farm in the 1950's I can recall going under the floor of the shop into the space where the water wheel was located and being amazed by all the workings. 


My cousin Ken Blackwood lived at the farm in the early 40's and has even more vivid recollections of the system.


Robert Blackwood was an ingenious and intelligent man who was a fantastic creator of something from almost nothing.