In November of 1939 a new telephone system was inaugurated in Perth and district at seven o’clock in the morning, when the crank system went into the discard and in its place the flashing of a small electric lamp at central informs the operate a call is being placed.
The actual cutover which took less than a minute, did not inconvenience the public. To Perth, one of the oldest towns in Eastern Ontario, belongs the honour of having the second telephone that ever was in use. Professor Bell, inventor of the telephone, sent to his friend. Dr. J. F. Kennedy, a dentist of Perth, a pair of telephones and the doctor stretched a wine front his office on Foster street to his residence on D’Arcy Street and was able to communicate between the two places. The first exchange established here was in 1888.
Perth Remembered photo
That all changed September 15th, 1963 when Perth would have one of the most modern dial exchanges in Canada. There were 2,375 phones in Perth at the time. George Thompson, regional Bell Telephone manager provided the following suggestion about the use of the dial telephone: “The most important step is to be certain you have the right number and if you are in doubt consult your new telephone directory. If the number is not listed dial 411 to reach an information operator. Once you are sure of the number pick up the receiver and hold it to your ear. Listen for the dial tone, a steady humming sound. Now you are ready to dial. Place your index finger firmly in the dial opening through which the first figure of the number desired appears. Pull the dial steadily around to the finger stop. Then remove your finger and allow the dial to spin back by itself. Do not try to hurry it for doing so can result in a wrong number. If you finger slips replace the receiver and start over. After you have dialed the figures of the number listen for the signals. A soft intermittent bur-r-r signifies that the called telephone is ringing and a buzz-buzz-buzz means that it is busy.”
If you had a party line as many of you would remember you would dial the number, hear the busy signal and they you would hang up then both your own and the called party’s bell would ring. When the ringing would stop that would mean that the called party has answered and you would pick up and answer. We are still on a party line at the cottage at Otty Lake.
When this picture was taken in 1951 there were over 1,600 telephones in service in Perth. The picture shows the operators at their switchboard. Included in the group were operators, Primrose Lindop, Helen Dodds, Constance Horan, Joyce Code and Rhona Huddleston with chief operator Nettie Burke. In 1935 the telephone exchange was located in the Meighen block on Foster street and then moved the building attached to and behind the Perth Hotel at the corner of Gore and North Street.– Perth Remembered
Perth Courier, August 3, 1934
Forty seven years ago this month in August of 1877 the first list of Perth subscribers to telephone service in a small pocket sized directory that contained the names and addresses of all telephone users in eastern Ontario and Quebec was put out. At that time there were 19 telephones here.
The limited number of instruments in Perth in 1887 excluded the need for telephone numbers. Subscribers were then called by name. A notice prominently displayed in bold type at the bottom of various pages throughout the book advises persons calling that he name of the party wanted should be “spoken with especial distinction to prevent mistakes”. Another foot note frequently encountered throughout the directory was “do not attempt to use the telephone on the approach of or during a thunderstorm”. Recalling a feature of the old time telephone appliances the in use in homes and places of business there appeared another note to the effect that “should the transmitter be out of order it is possible to speak through the hand telephone (receiver)”.
The following subscriber lists of August, 1877 recalls the names of prominent citizens and business establishments of many years ago:
Allan House, Gore Street
Allan, J.A., barrister, Gore Street
Bank of Montreal, Gore Street
Canadian Pacific Railway, depot
Electric Light Company, Gore Street
Elliott and Rogers, barristers, Foster Street
Farmer’s Hotel, Foster Street
Fraser, Dr. H.D., Foster Street
Hale, F.A., barrister, Foster Street
Hicks House, Gore Street
Inland Revenue Office, Gore Street
Kennedy, J.F., dentist, D’Arcy Street
Kellock, Dr. J.D., D’Arcy and Gore Streets
Kellock, J.F., druggist, Gore Street
Malloch, E.G., barrister, Foster Street
Meighen Brothers, merchants, Gore and Foster Streets
Radenhurst, W.H., barrister, Gore Street
It is interesting to note that there were no home or residence telephone here at that time and of the 19 instruments in service in offices and other business establishments, there were five located in law offices. The late Dr. J.F. Kennedy operated with the title of “agent” in charge of the Bell Telephone Company’s Central office containing the switchboard apparatus and associated equipment located on D’Arcy Street on the same premises occupied by his dentistry parlors.
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