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Appendix II

(Letter sent to operators)

2081 Maywood Street Ottawa, Ont. K1G 1E8
tel. (613) 731-3958


(operator’s name and address)

Dear (operator):

Visible evidence of the existence of The Glengarry Telephone Company Limited has almost completely disappeared. There remains only memories in the minds of people served by the company, and with the people who worked for the company. The archives committee of the Glengarry Historical Society is trying to locate and preserve the records of the company. Such records, if they can be located, would at best provide only a dry skeleton of the life and times of Glengarry Telephone.

Most people would agree that the establishment of a successful local telephone company to serve the needs of the residents of the (former) township of Lochiel and parts of adjacent townships some ninety years ago was a remarkable achievement. Recognition of the importance of instant and easy communication is commonplace these days, but this was not so obvious a century ago. There should be some recognition of the foresight of our forefathers before the evidence is lost completely.

What is really at risk is the history of Glengarry Telephone that exists only in the memories of the people who were involved with the company on a day-to-day basis. In the oral tradition of our ancestors these events would be preserved as stories to be passed on from generation to generation. Nowadays anything that is not written down and filed soon gets lost forever. It is in this context that I am undertaking to contact as many of the former operators as I can locate and inviting them to recall and record the stories and anecdotes that give some sense of the “life and times” of the daily operation of a small connecting telephone company.

If you agree to write out your recollections I will type them up, and give you a copy for your review. Further, everyone who replies will get a copy of all the submissions I receive. A complete set will go to The Glengarry Historical Society.

I must confess that I have no preconceived idea as to the structure or content of your “memoirs”. As a start I have in mind the following topics:

  • dates you worked for Glengarry Telephone
  • what you were paid - hours you worked, what were your shifts, and how shifts were rotated between operators
  • what were the housekeeping arrangements
  • who were the other operators you worked with. This of course should be fleshed out with your memories of dealing with the public, and with the telephone company, that were gratifying, frustrating or whatever. This should be the most interesting part. By way of a trivial illustration, I had a conversation recently with Hugh P. MacMillan. He and Muriel were having a get?together of some sort. One of the invitees didn’t know how to get there and called Hugh P. for directions. Everyone was out on the front lawn and didn’t hear the telephone. Just when the caller was about to give up the operator told him that someone had just gone into the house and would soon answer the phone. The caller was amazed at this level of service.

Working with Glengarry Telephone meant working with my father. (I don’t plan to contact anyone who worked for the company before 1942, when my father took over!) My father is a hero to me, but I am well aware that he has his foibles and character traits. You should not feel constrained to “sanitize” your memories for fear of giving offence.

Also if you have any photographs relating to your stay at Glengarry Telephone I would consider paying to have copies made. They should be dated and labelled as best you can.

You may know that the two switchboards used at Lochiel are now on display at the Museum of Science and Technology here in Ottawa. I was surprised to find that they were identified as coming from Lochiel. I wonder how many visitors know where Lochiel is, especially now that it has been absorbed into North Glengarry.

There is no fixed timetable for this project, but I would like to have it well in hand by the fall of this year, 1998.

If this project interests you I will try to make it as convenient for you as possible. We can discuss how best to achieve this.

I am well aware that this project would have been easier, and with a much better result, if I had started it twenty or thirty years ago, but it is already too late to start it even last year.

I thank you in advance for any contribution you may be able to make.

Yours truly,

Basil McCormick

appendix2.txt · Last modified: by johnw41