This is a collection of other people’s stories, so my debt to those who took the time and effort to reflect on and record their memories of working for Glengarry Telephone is unbounded. 1 must record the universal enthusiasm I encountered as I spoke to and usually visited all the people whose stories are recorded here.
Many also made a signal contribution which may not be so obvious - identifying and locating former operators for my list. Without a comprehensive list of names, addresses and telephone numbers the project would have been stillborn. I was also helped by a few people who had no formal connection with Glengarry Telephone, other than to make some phone calls from time to time. I refrain from naming all the people who helped; this list is long, and an inadvertent omission would be unpardonable. Be assured you all have my gratitude.
I must acknowledge support from two other sources, Noble Villeneuve, the local M.P.P., was very supportive when I accidentally had the opportunity to describe my project to him, and his Special Assistant, Glenda Eden, found time in her very busy schedule to locate and direct me to sources which would complement my project. Lorraine Croxen of Bell Canada’s Historical Services found some very interesting and useful items in Bell’s archives. I am particularly grateful because it is no longer Bell’s policy to serve casual inquiries like mine from their archives. The reader will note in the Introduction that full development of this historical dimension to the Glengarry Telephone story is being reserved for a later date.
It was my preference to represent both the inside work (at the switchboard) and the outside work (on the lines) relating to the functioning of a telephone company. You will see that the inside work is over-represented. This is not surprising, given the (then) casual nature of outside work. In my memory there were only two semi-permanent linemen employed by Glengarry Telephone. They were Rhéal Fournier (included) and Aldema “Big” Sauvé. Big Sauvé broke his neck when he fell off the roof working on Peter Archie Roy MacMillan’s house. I still have a vivid memory of Big Sauvé lying on the ground waiting for the ambulance. He died shortly after.
It was my policy to do a minimum amount of editing in transcribing submitted texts for this compendium (although some respondents may disagree). I should add that no-one had the chance to review anyone else’s story. Thus close readers may uncover some very minor inconsistencies. In TV dramas, and in real life, there are inconsistent versions of much more current events.
I must acknowledge my personal interest in this project. My father, John J. McCormick, was manager of Glengarry Telephone from 1942 until it ceased operations in 1966. My mother, Janet McCormick, was secretary for the last half-dozen years of the company’s operations, following the retirement of Jack Morris. My grand-uncles, Michael Morris, Peter Morris and Jack Morris, had major roles to play in the company for much of its life. Peter Chisholm, one of the principal founders, lived diagonally across from the homestead of my father and grandfather.
In collecting stories from former employees I dated the start of my search period in 1942, when my family moved into central. This is the limit of the personal experience on which I could draw, and there is the matter of life expectancy. Willie MacKinnon was manager of Glengarry Telephone during the preceding period, 1915 to 1942, and he and his family lived in the house we moved into. There is an excellent account of that period by Mrs. MacKinnon in Elsie MacMillan’s book, Butternuts and Maple Sugar, page 324 et seq.
There is a short chapter on the history of Glengarry Telephone. This is almost entirely a transcription of notes I found in my mother’s handwriting. The reader will note, under “Acknowledgments” the leads, guidance and assistance given to me by Lorraine Croxen of Bell Canada’s Historical Services and by Glenda Eden, Special Assistant to Noble Villeneuve, M.P.P. I have not yet had the opportunity to investigate these sources. As this collection is primarily a presentation of the stories of former employees, an expanded history chapter can follow at a later date.
In addition, there is an interesting array of photos provided to me on loan by several operators, and the appendices which are self-explanatory.
Basil McCormick Ottawa, Ont. March 1999