|The following notice was sent out to Island Telephone Company Subscribers a month following the Great 1956 Ice Storm which devastated telephone and electrical infrastructure from Cherry Valley, and westward. It is an interesting tale of a small company defying the odds, and surviving what could have been a fatal blow. When the losses were counted, storm damage totalled 2 million dollars, and there was a loss in revenue to the company of over $15,000. This was perhaps the Island's worst weather related disaster of the 20th century, and the crowning achievement of Island Tel and its employees.|
"The Great Ice Storm January 6th, 7th, and 8th, 1956
Report to our Subscribers on Storm Damage and Restoration
The storm which spread cross Prince Edward Island on January 6th, 7th, and 8th created very heavy damage to telephone lines in all areas west of Charlottetown. Long Distance lines were broken down and communities isolated.
Over 4.600 telephones and three-quarters of all long distance circuits were put out of service. Approximately 3.500 poles were broken and damaged and countless wire and cross-arm breaks occurred on both local and long distance circuits.
It became evident even before the storm had stopped that restoration of damaged telephone plant was a major task, and arrangements were made at once to send in all available Maritime Telegraph & Telephone Company crews from Nova Scotia, which province was also hard hit by the storm.
These forces, along with those of the Island Telephone Company, constitute a very large group of trained men augmented by local labour and the work of restoration is going on at a rapid pace. More than 3/4 of all the telephones in Summerside are now back in service and work in other exchange areas is progressing rapidly. Of the long distance lines out of service, about 60% are now operating and long distance communications have been restored to all exchanges in P.E.I.
But despite the progress made with this greatly enlarged force, there still remains much to be done, and it will be some time before the telephone plant can be completely restored and all the telephones put back in service. Everything possible is being done to speed up this work, and nothing will be left undone to expedite the restoration of telephone service with the least possible delay.
The Island Telephone Company personnel appreciate, and say "Thank you" to all telephone subscribers for their patience and understanding during this difficult time.
While the storm created havoc to local long distance lines, the microwave radiotelephone system between Tea Hill near Charlottetown and Fraser's Mountain near New Glasgow [N.S.] was undamaged and the system with 18 long distance circuits was for some days the only connection between Prince Edward Island and the rest of Canada. Circuits were also made available via this route to the Telegraph Companies. Another radiotelephone system operated jointly by The Island Telephone Co., Ltd. And the New Brunswick Telephone Company extending between Egmont and Moncton [N.B.] was put out of service when the land lines from Summerside to the Egmont Bay tower, a distance of 17 miles, and also in New Brunswick from Lute's Mountain [N.B.] to Moncton [N.B.] were broken down. Restoration of this service prior to the re-establishment of the pole lines was made possible through the kind cooperation of the town authorities of Summerside who allowed the Telephone Company technicians the use of the Summerside water tower as a base for their receiving and transmitting facilities. Without these Long Distance radio systems the situation would have been very serious, indeed.
The Island Telephone Company, Limited. "
Note: Interestingly, the original of this notice has its top Island Telephone Company Ltd. logo at the top flipped 90 degrees to the right, lying on its side, as it were. I have straightened it up digitally for the purposes of presenting it here.