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The Ontario Electrical League (OEL) is the birthplace of the Red Seal, a symbol of reliability since 1923. The brainchild of the organization’s first Manager, George W. Austen, the Red Seal Plan was developed to signify that residential wiring met minimum standards. The Red Seal decal was posted on switch boxes of homes in which the wiring met the requirements. Predating the Canadian Electrical Code, the plan evolved during industry campaigns to promote electricity in the home and the importance of installing proper wiring. By 1930, roughly one million Red Seal homes were built in Toronto, Winnipeg, and Vancouver combined, compared with only 28,000 in the United States. The plan was credited with wider use of electricity, reducing unnecessary domestic labour, increasing the standard of family life, improving lighting for the conservation of eyesight and in general, making home life happier and more agreeable in many ways. Over the years, the Red Seal spread to various Canadian jurisdictions, the United States and international locations such as Australia through licensing agreements with the League. The rights to the Red Seal trademarks were licensed to the Canadian Adequate Wiring Bureau for all areas of Canada – except Ontario – in 1952. The term “Red Seal” has since been adopted for the program that sets common standards to assess the skills of Canadian tradespeople. When the Red Seal appears on a provincial or territorial trade certificate, it means the tradesperson has demonstrated the knowledge required for the national standard in that trade – still a sign of reliability!

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