M994X.5.129.2 | Submarine electric telegraph between Newfoundland and Cape Breton. Laying of the electric cable

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Submarine electric telegraph between Newfoundland and Cape Breton. Laying of the electric cable
1855, 19th century
Ink on newsprint - Photolithography
27.9 x 40.6 cm
© McCord Museum
Keywords:  Print (10661) , Waterscape (2986)
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Keys to History

This print illustrates the laying of the submarine telegraph cable between Newfoundland and Cape Breton Island.

Telegraph communication was introduced in Canada in 1846. The network spread rapidly, but the great dream of linking Europe and America remained to fulfil. Connecting Newfoundland and Cape Breton in 1855 was an important step in this direction. Finally, in August 1858, the first telegraphic message was transmitted between Newfoundland and Europe.

The development of the telegraph has played a special role in Canadian history, notably in terms of public safety. Fewer lives would have been lost in the Great Nova Scotia Cyclone of 1873 if the telegraph service between Toronto and Halifax had not been interrupted, preventing storm warnings from getting through.

Source : Disasters and Calamities [Web tour], by Nathalie Lampron (see Links)

  • What

    The laying of the transatlantic cable was fraught with problems, particularly as the heavy cable was paid out from the ship. It broke repeatedly and had to be spliced.

  • Where

    The first message sent by electric telegraph within Canada was transmitted from Toronto to Hamilton on December 19,1846.

  • When

    The first telegraphic communication between Europe and North America took place in 1858. But technical problems interrupted the service after 400 messages had been sent. Communication was definitively re-established in 1866.

  • Who

    British-born Canadian Frederick Newton Gisborne and American Cyrus West Field were behind the laying of the transatlantic telegraph cable.