II-72261.1 | Mr. & Mrs. Charles Fleetford Sise and their dog, Montreal, QC, 1884

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Mr. & Mrs. Charles Fleetford Sise and their dog, Montreal, QC, 1884
William Notman & Son
1864, 19th century
Silver salts on paper - Albumen process
13.9 x 9.8 cm
© McCord Museum
Keywords:  couple (556) , Photograph (77678) , portrait (53878)
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Keys to History

The Sise Family and the Bell Telephone Company of Canada

Several members of the Sise family of Montreal were key figures in the development of telecommunications in Canada. Charles Fleetford Sise, a Boston businessman, arrived in Montreal in the winter of 1880. The former sea captain had been asked by Bell telephone patent holders to set up a Canadian company on a national basis. He is considered to be the founder of the Bell Telephone Company of Canada. The company obtained its federal charter on April 29, 1880. Sise wrote the company's first mission statement based on the idea that the company aimed to offer the public the best service at the lowest prices compatible with shareholders' interests.

His son Charles Fleetford Sise, Jr., was chairman from 1925 to 1944. Under his direction, the quality and diversity of telephone services improved considerably. He had an excellent head for business and kept the company financially stable through difficult times: the Great Depression and the Second World War.

  • What

    At the time, along with industrialists and financiers, the executives of public utilities (gas, electricity, streetcars, waterworks, telegraph and telephone) formed the economic élite of Canada's major cities.

  • Where

    By late 1880 and early 1881, the company provided telephone service in Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Quebec, Ontario and Manitoba, and had interests in British Columbia. The company had 150 employees and served some 2,100 subscribers.

  • When

    Charles Fleetford Sise retired in 1915, at the age of 80, leaving a company with 2,235 shareholders and close to 8,000 employees.

  • Who

    Charles Fleetford Sise, Sr. (1834-1918), was president of the Bell Telephone Company of Canada from 1890 to 1915. His son Charles replaced him from 1925 to 1944. Edward (1877-1943) was chairman of Northern Electric, a subsidiary that manufactured telecommunications equipment, from 1914 to 1919. Paul (1879-1951) succeeded him in 1919.