MP-1983.52.1 | Interior of telegraph office control board, C.P.R., about 1920

Interior of telegraph office control board, C.P.R., about 1920
Anonyme - Anonymous
About 1920, 20th century
Silver salts on paper - Gelatin silver process
16 x 21 cm
Gift of Dr. John Crawford
© McCord Museum
Keywords:  Communication (8) , Photograph (77678)
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Keys to History

The introduction of the telegraph into Canada in 1846 brought together the worlds of communications and finance. One early application of telegraphy was the tickertape machine.

Since business profits depended on reliable, updated information, the telegraph system expanded very rapidly. Early models of the tickertape machine received messages that were coded and had to be deciphered and written out by an operator. In 1869 Thomas Edison (1847-1931) finalized improvements to existing machines that eliminated this translation step. This meant, for example, that stock and commodity prices could be transmitted directly to the offices of merchants, bankers and brokers.

Montreal's telegraph system was installed in 1847. It expanded in step with business, in particular, the railways, which used the telegraph to communicate trouble along the track. One of the most important telegraph companies in Montreal belonged to the Canadian Pacific Railway. The CPR telegraphy company was conveniently located at 204 rue de l'Hôpital, across from the old Stock Exchange.

  • What

    The number of dispatches, including telegrams and cablegrams (messages sent by submarine telegraph), transmitted by Canadian stations in 1924 was 21,251,393. The money transferred by telegraph that year totalled $6,328,080.

  • Where

    By 1924, 8,909 people were working in Canada's 4,825 telegraph offices, one of which is pictured here.

  • When

    In 1924, the Canadian National Telegraph Company and the Canadian Pacific Railway owned the most extensive network of telegraph wires and offices in Canada.

  • Who

    As president of the CPR (1888-1899), Sir William Van Horne (1843-1915), insisted that the company develop a telegraph service in order to systemize transportation and communications.