Toronto. For some reason old photos tend to be portraits, landscapes, family or other events but rarely work tools and activities. The photo at left of Bell Telephone Company operators in Owen Sound Ontario is an exception. It shows the ladies at their positions ready to connect a local customer on one line to another local customer on a different line, or occasionally via long distance (toll) to a customer in another town/village/jurisdiction, etc. The photo appears on page 7 in our most recent PHSC News in Louise Freyburger’s column entitled WebLinks.
The photo struck a cord with me. It was taken the same year as I began life; I began work in Barrie in the newly formed Toll Area; I have worked as far as Owen Sound; an aunt, who was once as a young girl an operator in Toronto, in later years managed an independent telephone company in Hawkestone, just north of Barrie; and I too took many work related photographs over the years like this photo of c1960 long distance (toll) operators in Midland after the town was converted to dial service for local calls.
After the war, there was a big effort to upgrade smaller communities to dial service relieving operators from the task of connecting local calls manually. The war created a pent-up demand for telephone service well beyond the capacity of any existing local infrastructure. And Bell Telephone worked hard to absorb the smaller independents, even establishing a district devoted to their needs. Technicians working in the Toll Area visited many of the small independents, fixing minor technical issues for them.