The History of the Telephone on Prince Edward Island
|The telephone has helped unify people and communities for over 100 years on Prince Edward Island. Today, the telephone has become an integral part of personal life and of business, providing voice, data, and cell communications across the Island, and around the world.
On this page, you will find a history of telephone communication on Prince Edward Island, and notes and articles pertaining to the telephone on P.E.I. I will be adding more as information of interest is gathered. This page is being updated frequently - the following are some of the recently updated items:
Telephone Collector's International,
Antique Telephone Collector's
I would be interested in posting photos of P.E.I. telephone operators and exchanges on the page, as well as any further information on the history of the telephone on Prince Edward Island. If you are an ex-operator or lineman who would like to share your stories, I would like to hear from you! If you have a directory from the early years while the company was still the "Telephone Company of Prince Edward Island", please let me know if you could provide a photocopy, so that a transcription could be provided covering that era. On a number of occasions, there has been confusion between myself and another Dave Hunter who is retired Island Tel, and who lives in Kensington, PEI. We are not one and the same, but due to a large cooincidence, we both have the same name, and share an common interest in telephones! I have never worked for Island Tel/Aliant, but have collected phones for many years. I would like some day to have the opportunity to meet "the other" Dave - it is quite a cooincidence, and it has caused quite a bit of confusion over the history of this page, as one would naturally make the assumption we are the same person.
Obituary: Peacefully at The Queen Elizabeth Hospital on Tuesday May 20, 2008 of Walter C. Auld of Charlottetown and Stanhope, age 90 years. Beloved husband of Marion (nee Thompson). Father of Gerry (predeceased) (Audrey), Joan Auld (Keith Pigot), James (Donna Read) Auld. Grandfather of Jodi Lynn (John Cheeseman), Tami Jo (Patrick MacFadyen), Meghan (Jason) Osborne, Ryan Auld, Pamela Ferguson (Dan) Kane, and Glen (Gina) Ferguson. Great grandfather of Bracken, Laird, Simon and Rachel. Brother of the late Dr. Benson Auld (Alice).
Walter was a valued employee of the Island Telephone Company from 1936 till 1980. Through the years, he advanced through the company hierarchy to executive vice-president, and retired January 1, 1980
He wrote two books, "Voices of the Island" - a history of Island Tel, and "For Auld Times Sake", a book of his life memoirs, much of which covers his time at Island Tel.
He will be missed by all who had occasion to meet him.
Resting at MacLean Funeral Home Swan Chapel. Funeral Friday from Trinity United Church at 11 a.m. Interment in West Covehead United Church Cemetery. If so desired memorials to Trinity Church Restoration Fund or The Heart and Stroke Foundation would be appreciated. Visiting hours Thursday from 2 to 4 and 7 to 9 p.m. Online condolences may be made at www.macleanfh.com
View our historical transcriptions of several early P. E. I. directories. When compared to modern directories, one can appreciate how the Island telephone system has matured over the intervening years into a system second to none, thanks to the dedication of Island Tel and its employees!
[ 1889/90 Telephone Directory ] | [ 1922 Telephone Directory ] | [ 1928 Telephone Directory] | [ 1935 Telephone Directory ]
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Photos of Telephones, Party Line Stories, Aliant Pioneers Information page, Rural Telephone Companies on P.E.I., and "restoration helper" files added to the Links and Related Files Page!
Shelley Garnhum Tasse's grandfather Daniel James Garnhum worked for the Island Tel company his entire career and retired on June 30, 1965. These photos are of him and some of the men he worked with as they were putting in poles. She also has a retirement photo [View]. Shelley would like to find out who the other people are in the photos and if anyone has some info regarding her grandfather. He and her grandmother Rose (Callaghan) lived on Fitzroy St. in Charlottetown. You can contact Shelley at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Links to the Mainland and PEI Innovations:
PEI has had more than its share of firsts in communications technology. These were advances born out of our being an Island and isolated from the mainland of North America. It may have been a small company on the world stage but they were indeed innovators. Every PEI resident should be very proud of the accomplishments of our telephone company in the past and looking towards the future with Bell Aliant.
First of all, we will discuss the earlier telegraphic cables layed to and from P.E.I. They provided the groundwork for the later telephone cables, the first of which was layed in 1910. Later, microwave became the Island's first choice, followed most recently by fibre optic cable:
- Beginning 1824: Frederic Newton Gisborne, Engineer and Electrician, was born at Broughton, Lancashire, England, March 8th, 1824. On the 20th of November, 1852, Mr. Gisborne laid the first ocean cable on this side of the Atlantic, connecting Carleton Head, Prince Edward Island with Cape Tormentine, New Brunswick, a distance of 14 miles by water. This cable was used for telegraphy. This submarine cable was the first submarine cable in North America, and preceded the line to Newfoundland and then to England by four years.
- The 1852 cable was layed by the side-wheel steamer "Ellen Gisborne" (named after Gisborne's wife) and operated for a relatively short time. The greatest significance of this cable is it proved the viability of cable connections and layed the groundwork for future telegraph and telephone cables. Future improvements in cable design and laying techniques made service more reliable..
- 1856, Aug 10 - the steamer Victoria proceeded to Prince Edward Island and laid a new telegraphic cable from Tormentine for the New York Newfoundland and London Telegraph Co.
- 1866, October - the steamer Medway and steamer Terrible laid a new telegraphic cable from Carleton Head to Cape Tormentine with Cyrus Field observing. New York Times article published September 30, 1866 said, "Mr. Field arrived here this afternoon from Shediac, having met the Medway and Terrible in the Straits of Northumberland, engaged in laying a new cable between New Brunswick and Prince Edward's Island.". 2nd New York Times article, October 5 1866: "Another Submarine Cable - the Cable Laid Across the Straits of Northumberland - Charlottetown, PEI, Thursday, October 4th. The cable across the straits of Northumberland, connecting New Brunswick with Prince Edward's Island, was successfully laid by the steamer Medway on Tuesday last. The Medway and Terrible then steamed immediately for England"
- 1910, a single circuit private experimental telephone cable was laid from Wood Island to Pictou, Nova Scotia to serve the F.B. McCurdy and Company, a Halifax based stock broker. McCurdy has established the experimental line to link its Halifax and PEI offices.
- In 1910/1911 a two-core telephone cable was laid between Wood Islands and Caribou, Nova Scotia under the supervision of the Maritime Telegraph & Telephone Company with the first inter-provincial call occuring on January 3rd, 1911. The location of this cable still shows on navigational charts today. The laying of this cable was completed New Year's Day, January 1, 1911. Two more submarine cable links for telephone were eventually constructed to N.B. belonging to the Federal Government.
- In 1948, the first commercial microwave system in the world was installed between Tea Hill near Charlottetown and Fraser's Mountain near New Glasgow [N.S.] using pulse time modulation equipment developed at the Federal Electric Company of New Jersey giving 23 channels, to replace the often unreliable submarine links to PEI.
This site was near what is today 13 Upper Tea Hill Crescent in Stratford. Interestingly, I had a very strong memory of seeing the installation when I was younger sitting in the middle of what then was a farmer's field, and overlooking Pownal Bay. Wondering why I hadn't noticed it recently, I took a sightseeing trip to find it. Well, that was a very old memory, but so strong. I found it alright, but what was then a farmer's field, is now in the middle of a long established subdivision with many 30 year old trees grown up around the area. The tower site property was deeded to the Town of Stratford for use as a park around 2000, and the Town had the building demolished a couple of years later as it was becoming a hang out for teenagers and concerns for safety led to its removal. The original H tower was removed about 20 years ago for the same reason. Sitting on the property next to its original location is an RCMP tower/repeater. That was the tower and building I found. Thanks to Dave Swan for filling me in on the current tower in front of the old tower location, and for correcting my former assumption the new tower was located on the same property.
Another microwave link was installed in 1951 between Egmont Bay and Moncton [Lutz Mountain, N.B.] using a 42-C Lenkurt 450 megacycle12 channel system.
By 1956, we can with some certainty say that the MT&T cable mentioned several paragraphs above was no longer in operation, as Island Tel sources say that in the aftermath of the 1956 ice storm, the microwave link from Tea Hill provided the only telephone communication off-island. At that time, downed poles in Western PEI prevented the use of the Egmont link.
Following the ice storm of 1956, the system below was installed from Fraser Mountain, NS., to Charlottetown to Hazel Grove, Summerside, Egmont then to Moncton, NB.. This system allowed the removal of many miles of storm damaged pole and toll wire plant, and ensured that the Egmont link would stay active even should another Ice Storm like that of 1956 happen again..
1958 - New Glascow, NS to Summerside
6 GHZ Collins, 120 Channels. This system consisted of seven stations; a terminal station at Egmont, a dual repeater at Hazel Grove, a dual terminal at Charlottetown, a repeater at Mt. Buchanan, a space diversity terminal at Fraser Mountain, and a master fault alarm station at New Glasgow.
12 toll circuits Charlottetown to Summerside System from Fraser Mountain to Mt. Buchanan, 12 toll circuits Summerside to Moncton, NB. through Hazel Grove, Charlottetown, Summerside 12 toll circuits Charlottetown-Moncton, NB. and then from Egmont Bay to Moncton. 6 toll circuits
1968 - On Aug 18, 1968 a 120 channel Lenkurt 71F system extended the network from Egmont Bay via O'Leary. Lenkurt was a subsidiary of GTE speciallizing in microwave. Photo by Terry Biddlecombe.
1970 - A new 960 circuit system installed betwen Nutby Mountain, NS and the terminal building at Churchill, PEI. From there, the signal was re-transmitted to Charlottetown. It was a Lenkurt 878 2 Ghz. 960 channel system.
1973 - The Charlottetown portion of the Collins system above was replaced with a Lenkurt 878 960 channel microwave system. The reason for this was to meet demand brought about by moving Summerside Long Distance operation to Charlottetown.
1974 - Summerside to Egmont portion replaced by a 450 channel Lenkurt system.
1979 - Two Lenkurt 878C3 systems were set up between Nutby Mountain, NS. to Tea Hill to carry television signals to Island Cablevision.
1979 - Network extended to Churchill, PEI from Nutby Mountain, NS. using a 2 ghz. Lenkurt 878C3 system. Also, in 1979, the Egmont Bay site was taken out of service and replaced by the new 130 channel link between Murray River, PEI, and Fraser Mountain, NS. This new link opened two years before Egmont went out of service, and was inaugurated on Feb 8, 1977. This system was powered by a 120 channel Lenkurt 71F system operating at 2 Ghz. 24 channels were reserved for future needs and emergency. Photo by Terry Biddlecombe.
1986 - A new digital route was built with 672 circuits from Charlottetown, to Seal River to Hardwood Hill, Nova Scotia, then to Fraser's Mountain, and then on to Halifax.
Microwave development continued on PEI to provide further linking to the mainland, and indeed, across PEI with increasing numbers of links and more powerful stations.
The success of the Island's first microwave installation at Tea Hill was watched closely by member companies of the Trans Canada Telephone System, and eventually, they adopted a link of microwave stations right across Canada. In 1958, ten years after the Island's adoption of microwave, the Trans Canada Microwave System was completed and covered the 3900 miles from Halifax to Vancouver with over 139 repeater installations across the country. This information on microwave installations on the Island relies heavily on Walter Auld's book, "Voices of the Island".
- 1985 - Fibre optic cable made its debut on PEI, with a 25.6 km. link from Charlottetown to Seal River providing 2016 speech paths. A second run was installed running from Seal River to Montague providing 672 speech paths.
- 2004 - Bragg Communications (Eastlink) installed a 56-kilometer fibre submarine cable crossing the Northumberland Strait from Graham's Pond, P.E.I. to Port Hood, Nova Scotia. The installation was carried out by IT International Telecom and the Alcatel-Lucent vessel, "Ile de Batz".
- Today, fibre cables are carried over the utility level of the Confederation Bridge from New Brunswick, and a second fibre submarine cable buried in recent years runs from Tormentine to New Brunswick to provide redundancy. Each cable is capable of carrying all of the Island's communication needs. Does anyone have any details on the laying of this submarine fibre cable, i.e. exact date, manufacturer of cable, ship laying it, etc.?
You will find more on the history of other Atlantic Cables at Bill Burns' "History of the Atlantic Cable & Undersea Communications " site - http://atlantic-cable.com/
1967 Microwave Map of PEI - Source Natural Resources Canada: http://atlas.nrcan.gc.ca/site/english/maps/archives/4thedition/economic/transportationandcommunications/227_228
I am still researching the locations/dates and other information of both submarine cables and microwave on PEI. If anyone has any updates and/or corrections to either our information on cables or to the section on microwave on P.E.I., I would love to hear from you. I would love to have photos to show you of either the Lenkurt 878 system installed in 1970, the Collins system installed in 1958, or a small sample of any of PEI's submarine and overhead cables for a future cable display in our "Telephone Museum of PEI".
P.E.I. Telephone Timeline!
The first telephone service on Prince Edward Island was established in 1884 with the first exchange going into trial operation in Charlottetown on Dec. 20th. In 1885, the venture was incorporated as "The Telephone Company of Prince Edward Island".
- 1875 - Jun. 2 - Alexander Bell and assistant Thomas A. Watson "accidentally" discover the telephone during tests of a telegraphy device.
- 1876 - Jun. 25 - Bell demonstrates his device successfully at the Philadelphia Centennial Exposition.
- 1884 - The first exchange on P.E.I. set up in Charlottetown by Robert Angus at the Union Bank building at the corner of Great George and Richmond St. in the law offices of Palmer and MacLeod, in Charlottetown.
- 1885 - The Company was incorporated as "The Telephone Company of Prince Edward Island"
- 1886 - Fall - First line to Summerside operational.
- 1888 - Oct 18 - Robert Angus, Manager of the company announces its schedule of rates to Summerside and new Western Stations. View Schedule of rates from the Daily Examiner.
- 1889 - Having outgrown their original facility, the company moved to 57 Queen St. During the past few years, lines had been extended westward to a number of communities, Hunter River, County Line, Freetown, Kensington, Summerside, and St. Eleanor's.
- 1890, Oct 14 - Robert Angus, Manager of the company publishes a listing of stations East and West of Charlottetown. Interestingly, this shows service to much of the eastern end of the Island was available previous to the Hillsboro River expansion begun the following year. This was likely done via a loop via Mt. Stewart, and across the river at that point. Note, at this time, there no stations between Charlottetown and Vernon River, excluding Southport, Bunbury, Pownal, Vernon River and points between, something which would soon be rectified by the Hillsboro expansion. View Advertisement from the Daily Examiner.
- 1891 - "An Act Respecting Telephone Extension" was introduced and given Royal Assent July 15. It provided a minimal subsidy of $250 a year primarily to aid installation of a cable across the Hillsborough River, and subsequent extension of the lines eastward.
- 1893 - The "Act of Assembly, P.E.I., the 56th Year of Victoria’s Reign, 1893" shows a subsidy of $500.00 going to the Telephone Company of Prince Edward Island. The same Act shows $180.00 spent to cover the costs of telephones for public officials.
- 1895 - Telephone Service arrives in Montague [sic - as previously shown in the 1890 listing of Eastern Stations, service was available to Montague - perhaps at this time, Montague got its own office]. Ref: Pg. 17, Appendix "A", "A View From the Bridge", Finlay Martin, 1984., and a new agency office was opened in Summerside on the property of Charlotte Crabbe on Water St.
- 1901 - Examiner 6 Sep., 1901: "A new telephone cable between the Telephone Office and Beer's Square [King's Square] is being placed on the posts. It will run up Queen and along Kent Streets and hold 52 wires. The danger from loose wires in case of storms, crossing the electric light wires will be greatly lessened."
- 1903 - The "Auditor General's Report, 1902-1903, 3-4 Edward VII., A. 1904 Sessional Paper 1" shows $148.67 spent on telephones on the Murray Harbour Branch, and later, "Telephones: Telephone Co. of PEI: rent of 14 telephones at Charlottetown and Summerside, 12 m. to June 30, 1903, $235; rent and message vouchers not detailed, $118.87 for a total of $353.87"
- 1904 - Daily Examiner, May 9: "Lowe Bros. commenced work today on the improvements to the Telephone Office [57 Queen St., Charlottetown]. The front of the building will be greatly changed and what has heretofore been the main entrance will be done away with altogether. The accountant's and manager's offices will be in the front of the building, and long distance operators behind them. The side entrance will be used for both. After these improvements have been completed Messrs. Hyndman & Co. who own the building and adjoining, occupying the the first floor, will begin extensive alterations and improvements to their premises. While the workmen have charge they will move to an office further up the street for several weeks." [GC]
- 1904 - Daily Examiner, September 9: "A quartered oak telephoning cabinet has been installed in the office of the Victoria Hotel [123 Water St., Charlottetown]. The upper part is filled with double glass on three sides, and while the person using the telephone can see all that is going on, no one about can hear anything that is being said." [CG]
- 1905 - A new format of Telephone Directory Announced: Daily Examiner 23 Oct., 1905, page 2 - "There is in the course of preparation a new directory for the Telephone Company of P. E. Island, a directory which will embrace the Charlottetown Exchange and also all of the rest of the Island in very complete form. Instead of being in card form like the Charlottetown list has been of late, the directory will be made up in a book with indexed pages, so that the name may be found quite as readily if not more easily than in the present way. An edition of one thousand copies is being printed and there will be a number of spaces at the tops and bottoms of the different pages for advertisements. As each directory will be in continuous use for a full year by each person who has occasion to use a telephone the advertising value of such a space will be very great indeed. In most places the cost of an advertisement in the local telephone directory is very high but in this case as it will be the first directory of the kind ever issued here, the price for space will be quite low. The directory will remain in use for upwards of a year and the advertisements in it will be brought instantly before all telephone subscribers and users during the whole of that time." [GC].
- 1906 - 60 cycle hum on the lines caused by newly installed electrical lines in Charlottetown began affecting Charlottetown lines when the power company was operational in the evenings. It was decided at the annual shareholder meeting in March 1907 to investigate the newly invented "common battery system" and to run a second wire for each line in the city to cure the problem. To understand this phenomenon better, you must first understand the early telephone wiring depended upon a single wire from the exchange to your phone. The other conductor was through ground, and a ground rod driven outsite the installation site. When common battery arrived, there were now two lines to each phone, lessening the effect of the hum caused by the new electrical installations.
- 1908 - Feb. New "common battery" switchboard and associated equipment arrives. By Jul. 4, the new system was operational in Charlottetown, only the third such system in use in Canada. Magneto phones were replaced with new common battery sets throughout the city exchange.
- 1909 - Daily Examiner, Jan 5, 1909: "PEI Telephone Company's new directory published by Examiner Publishing Company, includes Summerside and all smaller towns. Manager Mr Winfield. [CG]"
Jan. 3 - first interprovincial calls made via a submerged cable from Wood Islands to Pictou.
Sept. 5 - disaster struck the central office in Charlottetown when fire destroyed the newly installed switchboard and caused heavy damage to the building, resulting in the necessity of temporarily re installing magneto sets throughout the city. This caused much financial hardship for the company.
Dec. 1 - controlling interest in the "The Telephone Company of Prince Edward Island" was bought by the Maritime Telephone and Telegraph Company.
- 1912 - Some eight months later following the catastrophe, a new common battery switchboard placed in operation, and common battery phones re installed.
- 1919 - Some 40 "Privately Owned Telephone Companies" now in service across the Island to meet demands for service. This year, the "Prince Edward Island Rural Telephone Association" formed. One by one, these small rural companies relinquished their franchise, and the "Telephone Company of Prince Edward Island" and its successors took over operations in their areas. This occurred over a period from 1919 till 1974.
- 1920 - Jan. Regular commercial telephone service opens betweem the Bell Telephone Company of Canada and the Atlantic Provinces.
- 1922 - Jan. 30, Eastern Telegraph and Telephone Co. became owner of "The Telephone Company of Prince Edward Island"
- 1928 - Property purchased next to the Crabbe property in Summerside to become the future home of the company in Summerside. Clara Mountain became the chief operator and business manager, with Leigh Stewart named the section foreman.
- 1929 - Act to incorporate "The Island Telephone Company Ltd." enacted Apr. 29, 1929. As of Dec. 31st, the "The Island Telephone Company Ltd." had 4072 telephones in service and 56 rural companies were in operation serving an additional 1394 customers.
- 1930 - New office completed in O'Leary to serve the area.
- 1931 - New facilities opened on the south corner of Queen and Fitzroy St. in Charlottetown.
- 1938 - New office and switchboard open in Kensington to serve the area.
An Island Telephone Company receipt in my possession shows a monthly charge of $1.50 for a rural residential line in the Hunter River exchange.
November 19th, the first commercial microwave link in the world is established between P.E.I. and Nova Scotia.
- 1950 - February 9th - In Summerside, on February 9th, 1950, Wanda Lefurgey Wyatt wrote "The dial telephone system was formally opened for use this evening at 10 p.m." Reference: Pg. 342, "A Century on Spring Street", Deirdre Kessler, 1999. This, the first automatic system on the Island was a British Strowger step by step system manufactured by AEI and ordered through Automatic Telephone and Electrical of Liverpool, England. The 1200 line switch was delivered late in 1949 and placed into service on February 9, 1950. Dials had been previously installed on telephones throughout the city, and tied with string to prevent their use prematurely. On inauguration day, customers were told to cut the cord and begin using the dial. There is a delightful story about one lady who did just that, and the telephone company received a trouble call immediately - she had cut the cord alright - the cord to the telephone..
- This year, July 1, the Island Telephone Company installed its 10,000th phone - in the Stamper residence, in Charlottetown.
- 1950 - August 28th - An offer was made to subscribers to sell 4½ % cumulative redeemable preference shares in the Island Telephone Co. Ltd., in a letter in my possession.Orders for such share were to be made during the period from September 5th and 19th of 1950. The Royal Securities Corporation Ltd. of Charlottetown was the underwriter.
- 1953 - Dial telephone service instituted in Charlottetown with a new Northern Electric 5,100 line, 7,000 terminal automatic Strowger switching machine and a No.3 CL - 12 position toll switchboard. The official opening and inaugural ceremony was held June 30th.
- 1955 - Bills and receipts in my possession from Dec. 1, 1955 - Feb 1, 1959 show a monthly charge of $2.35 for a rural residential line in the Hunter River exchange.
- 1956 - Jan. 6, 7, 8 - The great ice storm knocked out communications and power from Cherry Valley to the west end of the Island. Over 3/4 of all Island Telephone long distance circuits were put out of service, and over 3,500 poles broken and damaged putting over 4,600 telephones out of service. Island Telephone crews along with crews from the Maritime Telephone and Telegraph Co., from Nova Scotia worked fervently to restore phone service. Temporary communications were set up by Amateur Radio operators under the supervision of Stu Smith. As a Ham Radio Operator myself (VY2AC), I am proud of how well the Amateur community responded in this province-wide emergency. 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.
- 1963 - June 16 - The first Ericsson Crossbar Switching Office in the Maritimes installed in Montague.
- 1964 - Dec. 31, the Company installed its 25,000th telephone - in the residence of Mr. and Mrs. Warren MacKenzie of Charlottetown.
- 1966 - 3.3 acres of land purchased from Sunny Isle Farms on Belvedere Ave. This was to become the future and present home of the Island Telephone Company.
- 1974 - The last remaining private rural telephone company, in South Rustico, was acquired.
- 1973 - May 6, Direct Distance dialing introduced in the Charlottetown, Summerside, Montague, New Haven, and Souris exchanges using the facilities of the utility's SP-1 long distance switching machine installed in the Charlottetown office.
- 1975 - Sep 1 - The Island Telephone Company, Ltd. joins the TCTS ( TransCanada Telephone System).
- 1977 - Nov 30, with the completion of the dial conversion of Tyne Valley, all of the Island now had dial telephones. All 26 exchanges on the Island now had DDD.
- 1976 - The Island Telephone Company installed its 50,000th phone - in the residence of Mr. and Mrs. Erwin Drummond, in Freetown.
- 1977 - With the whole of the Island on DDD, the changes were just beginning. By the late 1990's, party lines were eliminated across the Island, giving everyone private service. Island Tel Mobility now provides Cell service to the whole Island, and fibre optics now cover and serve most of the Island. High speed internet connections are available in many areas. Despite its small size, and thanks to the foresight and planning of Island Tel, the Island has entered the forefront of communications technology, and has developed one of the best networks in the world.
- 1983 - The Island Telephone Company installed its 75,000th phone - in the residence of Cecil Rose, North Lake.
- 1985, April 10 - The Island Telephone Company celebrates its 100th Anniversary.
- 1986 - The Island Telephone Company installs the Island's first 25 km. of fibre optic cable between Charlottetown, Millview, and Montague.
- 1988 - June 25th - Summerside's step by step switching system replaced by a Nortel DMS-100 system, occupying less than 10% of the space taken by the original switch, installed in 1950. The new switching system used semi-conductors and was much more reliable, requiring less maintenance than, and virtually silent compared to the din created by the original Strowger electro-mechanical SxS switch.
- 1990 - September 28th - The Island Telephone Company becomes the final link in Canada's Cellnet network with the introduction of cellular service on-Island.
- 1999 - Island Tel merges with AtlanticCo following approval at a shareholder's meeting held May 19th. On May 31, 1999, AtlanticCo enters market as Aliant.
Aliant consists of Bruncor Inc. (NBTel), Island Telecom Inc., Maritime Telegraph and Telephone Company Limited, and NewTel Enterprises Limited, owners of the major IT and provincial telecommunications companies in Atlantic Canada.With offices throughout Canada and the United States, Aliant delivers expertise in the areas of local, long-distance, wireless, data, Internet, information technology, managed network services, and mobile satellite communications.
- 2003 - The provincial companies continued operating under their own names within the umbrella of Aliant till April 24, when a brand consolidation process began, bringing to the forefront Aliant's focus on telecommunications for Atlantic Canadians and consolidating 100 years of telecom experience inherited by the merger of MTT, NBTel, IslandTel and NewTel in 1999. Henceforth, all will operate under the Aliant name. This year's P.E.I. phone books issued under the Aliant name. It is sad to see the Island Tel name fade away, but comforting to know that they are in such good company.
- 2006, March 7 - Aliant and Bell Canada Enterprises announces a new partnership to be known as Bell Aliant, creating one of the largest regional telecommunications providers in all of North America, providing services to customers in provinces. This will continue to be headquartered in Atlantic Canada.
This is the beginning of what I hope will become an extensive list of references and links to information on the early Telephone Company of Prince Edward Island, and later, Maritime Telegraph and Telephone, Eastern Telephone and Telegraph, Island Tel, and now Aliant. There were a number of small, privately owned rural companies on the Island which were part of the P.E.I. telephone system in its early days - see the "Rural Companies" page.
Note: Much of the information for the above listing added with the help of an excellent book, "Voices of the Island", by Walter C. Auld, Nimbus Publishing, 1985. Alas, this book is now out of print. Walter, who recently passed away, was an valued employee of the Island Telephone Company from 1936 till 1980. Through the years, he advanced through the company hierarchy to executive vice-president, and retired January 1, 1980. In 1985, he was asked to write the company history, and "Voices of the Island" was the result.
This copy was loaned to me by the Abegweit Chapter of Telephone Pioneers of America - my thanks to Holly Laroque, President of the Abegweit Chapter, who has been most helpful. I have since been able to locate my own hard copy of the book through a search on the book search engines. It is a wonderful book, and would be of interest to anyone with an interest in the history of the telephone on P.E.I., or with family members that were employees of the Telephone Co. of P.E.I. or of Island Tel.