Working at the Mount Albert Telephone Company
Nowadays, we take communication for granted, with almost everybody having their own personal cellphone, in addition to the Internet for connecting with anyone around the world. There was a time when the only way to talk to people from a distance was by using the telephone. Did you know that used to be a quite successful telephone company right in the heart of Mount Albert? Today’s local history highlight is all about the Mount Albert Telephone company.
Telephone service arrived in Mount Albert in 1901, with the building of a long-distance line from Brown’s Hill through Mount Albert to Newmarket. Soon after this, a toll office was also built there on October 21st, 1901. The manager of this office was named W.B. Forest, and telephones were installed in his house for the use of the public for long distance telephone calls.
Only two people subscribed to the home telephone service in 1903. The hours of service at the telephone office were 7 AM to 9 PM on weekdays and holidays, and from 2 PM to 4PM on Sundays.
In one edition of the American Telephone Journal, it was announced in 1906 that “The Mount Albert Telephone Company has been formed with a capital stock of $10,000. The company will construct lines in Scott and Uxbridge Townships. Address T. Graham, Township of Uxbridge, or W.D. Stokes, township of Scott, Ont.” (Volume 13, no. 26, p. 403). Mr. Forest was the direct manager until 1911, when he was succeeded by H. Ross. The only subscriber for telephone service that year was the Grand Trunk Railroad in Mount Albert. By 1915, the Mount Albert telephone company was completely responsible for all local calls in the area.
Figure 1: A Western Electric Wall Telephone, c. 1910. Photo from Britannica Image Quest.
There was a connecting service agreement signed between Bell and the Mount Albert Telephone Company in 1938, giving them the right to connect people in the area using the existing Bell telephone lines. By this time, there were 535 personal home telephones in the Mount Albert area.
In the 1930’s and 40’s, many local people worked at the Mount Albert telephone exchange. The telephone office was in the back of W.T. Lloyd’s Drug store on Main Street. Later it was moved to a building on the corner of Centre and Main Street. One employee, Doris Draper Ramsay, who worked at the exchange from 1937 to 1943, recalled that she was a day operator, along with Barbara Williamson. One week her shifts would be from 9AM to 12PM, and then from 6 PM to 10 PM; the following week she would work from 12 PM to 6PM. She would work 7 days a week for $7.00 per week, with no holidays, and no days off unless she paid someone to take her shift for her.
The agreement with Bell had to be renewed in 1951. Some years later in 1957, the Mount Albert Telephone company was sold to Bell. The exchanges in Queensville and Mount Albert were taken over by Bell; additionally, employees of the Mount Albert company were offered employment with Bell after the final transfer of ownership.
Do you have any memories of the Mount Albert telephone company, or know anyone who worked there? Please let us know in the comments section!