This is part of the story of the Glengarry Telephone Co. Ltd., an independent company which operated from 1907 to 1966, when its plant and fixtures were sold to Bell Canada. At the end of the first year there were 19 telephones connected to the switchboard at Lochiel. By the end of 1966 this had grown to 644 phones covering a territory that included all of the tonwnship of Lochiel except the village of Glen Robertson; much of the northern part of Kenyon: the 6th of Kenyon some distance west of Fassifern, the Dunvegan Road to Dunvegan, the area west of McCrimmon along the Kenyon‑Caledonia boundary into Skye; the southern part of Caledonia township to St. Bernardin; part of the township of West Hawkesbury just south of Vankleek Hill; part of the township of East Hawkesbury, the area east of Dalkeith towards Glen Andrew. The central exchange office was always in the hamlet of Lochiel (Quigley's Comers), for the first few years in the general store operated at that time by the Morris family, then in the building on the west side of the store. The latter building was reconstructed during the years it housed the central exchange. It now serves as a private residence and the general store was destroyed by fire some years ago.
The project had its genesis at the 1998 annual meeting of the Glengarry Historical Society. David Anderson announced a new initiative for the Society, an archival initiative to preserve records and memorabilia germane to the mandate and objectives of the Society. It occurred to me that some record of the Glengarry Telephone Company Limited might be pertinent to this initiative.
While this is not a treatise on the importance of communications in twentieth century society it is reasonably self‑evident that the availability of telephone service was of some importance to the many of the residents of what is now North Glengarry (and in later years, parts of adjacent townships). Yet in my limited reading of contemporary Glengarry history I find almost no reference to Glengarry Telephone.
My first impulse was that someone should locate and preserve the company books of Glengarry Telephone. I am quite aware of the “somebody (else) should so something” syndrome. Thus I undertook to contact living former employees and have them record their recollections of their time working at Glengarry Telephone. Memories become extinct with the people holding them. The tradition of oral history died, with some lag effect, when the printing press was invented.
This work is the result of that initiative.
On reflection after the fact, this was an idea of great presumption. I know that if I were asked to tell what I was doing thirty‑five of fifty‑five years ago I would laugh in derision. Yet as you will see, all who answered provided some anecdotes of interest, and some were able to reply in great detail. The general tenor may be a reminder of how much things have changed in our lifetime. We all know this, but often forget unless we are reminded. For example, the story by May (McCrimmon) McCallum that she got her job because Florence (McDonald) Phillips was in an accident while riding in a horse and buggy would suggest to the younger generation that their parents or grandparents must have been Mennonites.