Telephone operators at the Trail exchange in the early 1900s. Photo: Trail Historical Society

Telephone operators at the Trail exchange in the early 1900s. Photo: Trail Historical Society

Trail Blazers: Early communication began with 30 telephones

Trail Blazers is a weekly feature in partnership with the Trail Museum and Archives

No matter where a person is these days in terms of place or location, most are at-the-ready to answer their calls with a cell phone in hand.

The most recent data from the CRTC (Canadian Radio-television Telecommunications Commission) shows Canadian households continue to abandon landline telephone service in favour of mobile service, with a third subscribing to mobile service only (2016 stats).

Household subscriptions to television services are also declining, while the percentage of households with internet service now surpasses 87 per cent.

Canadian households spend more per month on mobile services ($92) than landline services ($27.50).

With this in mind, this week’s Trail Blazers feature looks at where telecommunications all began in the city.

Interestingly, Trail did have telephones in the earliest of days.

The first telephones were brought to the city in 1895 by Colonel E.S Topping.

There were 30 phones rented for $5 a month.

The telephone exchange building was in the Hanna Block, located on the north east corner of Bay Avenue and Helena Street.

This telephone system was acquired by the Nelson and Vernon Telegraph Co. in 1896 and then amalgamated with the BC Telephone Company in 1903.

In 1919, the BC Telephone Company erected an exchange building on the corner of Spokane Street and Pine Avenue.

Telephone companies in Canada can trace their roots to the invention of the telephone by Alexander Graham Bell near Brantford, Ontario in 1874.

The world’s first long-distance telephone call was made in 1876 over 16 kilometers (10 miles) of telegraph wires between Brantford and Paris, Ontario.

In 1880, the Bell Telephone Company of Canada was established in Montreal, and other companies providing local service in other cities sprung up across the country.

At the time, long-distance inter-city communications was not technically possible, so these companies each provided telephone service in a local area.

– With files from Jesslyn Jarvis, Trail Museum and Archives

Previous Trail Blazers: First affordable housing was for Second World War veterans

Previous Trail Blazers: Sisterhood since 1924



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