M991X.2.138 | Interphone

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Creative Commons License
Stanley & Paterson
1900-1910, 20th century
32.1 x 16 cm
© McCord Museum
Keywords:  Interphone (1)
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Keys to History

Part of Sir Hugh Allan's fortune derived from communications; he invested in the telegraph, then in the telephone, two avant-garde technologies.

In 1852, Sir Allan was appointed president of the Montreal Telegraph Company. Montreal financiers wanted to get into the big English and American markets to find out the latest business deals.

The first telephone systems used the lines of two competing telegraph companies, Montreal Telegraph and Dominion Telegraph, which appeared in 1879. The telephone revolutionized communications by making it possible to speak directly to another person without going through an intermediary.

The two telegraph companies did not hesitate to offer service free of charge to doctors and clergymen to help expand the telephone system. In 1880, the new Bell Telephone Company's purchase of the rights to the telephone put an end to the competition.

  • What

    The interphone is an internal telephone used to communicate between rooms in the same building.

  • Where

    As it says on the interphone, this one connected the solarium, card room (?), library, pantry, where the servants prepared dishes for the table, and kitchen.

  • When

    Alexander Graham Bell, a Scottish-born inventor, established the first telephone communication in Canada, between Brantford and Paris, Ontario, on July 26, 1874.

  • Who

    In 1878, Sir Hugh Allan was one of the first in Canada to make a long-distance call. He telephoned Princess Louise in Ottawa from Montreal.