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Glengarry Telephone: A Brief History

(transcribed from notes by Janet McCormick)

On July 1, 1966 ownership of the plant and fixtures of the Glengarry Telephone Company Limited passed to The Bell Telephone Company of Canada. One of the first companies to be formed in Glengarry disappeared after more than fifty-nine years of service.

The inaugural meeting of the shareholders of the Glengarry Telephone Cooperative Association Limited was held in the Town Hall, Alexandria, on Tuesday June 4. 1907. The constitution was adopted and three trustees were named: Peter Chisholm, Lochiel, Dr. K.A. MacLennan, Alexandria, and J.J. McMillan, McCrimmon. Mr. Chisholm was named president of the Association and M.J. Morris, secretary-treasurer and manager. The committee immediately got to work to secure telephone connection with the town and outside points, and to begin construction. One gang was engaged to erect poles and another gang to put up wire. By October of that year there were two toll lines with a total of 19 phones. The first central office was in the Morris Bros. store and M.J. Morris remained secretary-treasurer and manager until 1913; at that time Robert Hay was named secretary-treasurer and manager. The operating hours were 7:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. on weekdays and on Sundays, 9:00 a.m. to 10:00 a.m. and 3:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m.

A dividend of 7 percent was paid in 1910. Financial statements were prepared with a copy being sent to each shareholder along with the dividend cheque.

At the fifth annual meeting of the Glengarry Telephone Co-operative Association on Feb. 9. 1912 Peter Chisholm, the president, told the meeting that during 1911 seventeen miles of pole lines were constructed and 75 new phones installed at an outlay of $3,500.

W.J. MacKinnon was appointed secretary-treasurer, manager, repairman and switchboard supervisor in 1915, He took on the job early in the year and worked faithfully and conscientiously until 1942. In 1915 continuous telephone service was begun, although night calls were reserved for emergencies.

M.J. Morris was president in 1916.

The year 1917 marked the incorporation of the Glengarry Telephone Co-operative Association as the Glengarry Telephone Company Limited. The capital stock of the company was $20,000, divided into 2,000 shares at $10.00 each. The head office was situated in the township of Lochiel with the postal address in Alexandria, The provisional directors of the company were M.J. Morris, J.J. Morris, John Angus MacMillan, Francis Costello and Angus McDonald. At the first annual meeting of the Glengarry Telephone Co. Ltd. M.J. Morris was named president, and the next year J.A. McCrimmon succeeded him. In 1920 Peter Chisholm was president again.

There was a steady growth of telephone lines in all directions from Lochiel. Some subscribers paid for their stock/shares by providing poles and/or labour. By 1921 there was a connection to Vankleek Hill. One of the subscribers, Wm Newton, paid $5.00 a year for pole rent. More poles were needed so the directors authorized W.J. MacKinnon to buy 20 poles @ $1.50 each - 25 ‘ long and 6″ at the bottom. In 1923 N.D. MacLeod was named president. In 1930 Glengarry Telephone joined the Independent Telephone Association.

In 1934 Mr. MacKinnon was advised he could buy a car to help him with his work. Before that horse and buggy or horse and sleigh had been his only means of conveyance. The telephone rental charge was increased from $12.00 to $14.00 per year. The old brick veneered part of central was taken down and a new addition built.

In 1938 the Board had a meeting with representatives of The Bell Telephone Company concerning toll charges and commissions. In 1940 the Company bought a trailer from J.W. MacRae for $10.00. Later that year they bought a Fargo light delivery truck from Sarto Leger for $400.

The year 1942 marked the end of Willie MacKinnon’s honourable service when he asked to be relieved of duties. J.J. McCormick was named in his place as manager, repairman and in charge of the switchboard. At the annual meeting in April 1942 Peter Chisholm resigned as president and was made Honorary President. J.A. McCrimmon took his place as president. Dr. Munroe was put in as director to replace J.W. McLeod who resigned, and Malcolm Grant replaced N.D. McLeod who also resigned. The end of 1942 brought the horrific ice/sleet storm. On Jan. 6, 1943 there was just one subscriber, J.W. MacRae who had the store next door to central, who was able to call central. All the lines were flattened. It was a real holiday for the operators but not so for the repairmen. That winter was exceptionally cold. It was week after week of pulling wires out of the ice-covered snow and manoeuvering poles into an upright position in order to restore service; all this in severely sub-freezing temperatures. War-time shortages made it almost impossible to obtain new replacement wire. It is noteworthy to say that Glengarry Telephone had its lines in order before some of the surrounding telephone companies.

In 1945 service was installed on the Eigg Road. A delegation from Breadalbane attended the annual meeting asking that service be extended to that area and after a short time this was attended to.

In 1947 a line was constructed east of Alexandria on the Glen Robertson Road. Lloyd MacMillan was appointed director to replace James Lewis Macmillan who resigned.

A Fargo truck was purchased in 1949 to replace the old reliable Fargo. The price was $2054.75 with an allowance of $500 for the old truck. That year, owing to ill health, J.A. McCrimmon resigned as president after ten years of service in that position and 48 years on the board. Lloyd MacMillan was named as president in his place and Ian Irvine was appointed to the board of directors.

In 1956 the first cable was bought and installed for three miles north of Lochiel. The next year cable was installed from Lochiel to Fassifern, and the following year from Lochiel to Lome. That year also Archibald MacDonald joined the board of directors.

In 1959 the service territory was extended back to St. Bernardin when Glengarry Telephone obtained the rights to that part of the area which had been served by the Riceville exchange. In 1961 Bell introduced dial service to Vankleek Hill and eight Glengarry Telephone subscribers in the immediate area were connected to that exchange. Two dial positions were installed at the Lochiel switchboard in order to ring Vankleek Hill.

In 1962 J.J. Morris resigned as secretary-treasurer and Janet McCormick was appointed in his place. A 25 pair cable was installed along Highway 34. Bell was also approached that year about buying the company but they were not interested at that time.

Dr. Munroe resigned as director in 1964, due to ill health, and was replaced by Benton McCrimmon. The major project that year was moving the line between Fassifern and Lome as a development road was being built. This was an expensive undertaking which put the company in financial difficulties. All the cable had to be replaced. (There is a notation in J.J. McCormick’s handwriting that the work was commissioned by the Township of Lochiel, but the township never did fulfill its part of the agreement.) There was another construction job of greater interest to at least a few people - a bathroom was installed in the central building.

In Sept. 1964 the company lost one of its valuable directors when Ian Irvine died suddenly. He was replaced by J.K. Munroe. The following year both M.J. Morris and J.J. Morris died. Both men had given greatly to the company in time, energy and talent from its earliest years. J.J. Morris had retired as secretary-treasurer only a few years previously.

The subject came up again about selling to Bell. In the near future it would be necessary to convert to dial and the cost of such a project would present financial difficulty. Bell’s conditions meant dividing the company’s territory into three parts, with

the northern sector being attached to the Vankleek Hill exchange while the remaining area being divided between the Alexandria and Glen Robertson exchanges. This was not acceptable as too much of the traffic within the community would become subject to long distance toll charges. The shareholders were contacted and it was decided to offer the company for sale on the condition that the territory not be split up. Bell accepted the offer and they took over the territory of the company on July 1, 1966 but it is to be left as it is until the system is converted to dial in 1968.

At the time of sale Glengarry Telephone had 644 telephones. (A table showing the growth in number of telephones is given in an appendix, as is a table showing some other statistics.)

Some subscribers are pleased to join Bell but many are very satisfied with the present arrangement and are not happy with the prospect of change. The Glengarry Telephone Company has always had a friendly relationship with Bell and it is hoped that this agreeable relationship will continue for Glengarry Telephone subscribers when they become Bell customers.

The executive of the Glengarry Telephone Company Limited at its sale were: President - Malcolm Grant; Directors - Archibald MacDonald, Benton McCrimmon, J.K. Munroe, and P.J. Morris; Manager - J.J. McCormick; Secretary-treasurer - Janet McCormick.

brief_history.txt · Last modified: by johnw41