VIEW-25407 | Office, G. B. Thorn's house, Montreal, QC, 1934

Office, G. B. Thorn's house, Montreal, QC, 1934
Wm. Notman & Son
1934, 20th century
Silver salts on film (nitrate) - Gelatin silver process
25 x 19 cm
Purchase from Associated Screen News Ltd.
© McCord Museum
Keywords:  Architecture (8646) , Photograph (77678) , residential (1255)
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Keys to History

From the Office to the Home (A Household Management Tool)

Originally considered to be a scientific curiosity, or even a toy, then a business communications device, the telephone gradually made its way into private homes. Because of its high cost, it was for a long time a luxury reserved for the well-to-do. Many businessmen used the phone to work from home - the beginnings of telecommuting!

At first the lady of the house made use of the telephone in much the same way that a businessman did. It was a household management device that enabled her to order groceries, call for help in case of emergency, inform others when she was behind schedule, or make appointments. But it soon became a powerful instrument of socialization. In Canada, the adoption of a flat rate for local calls, as opposed to pay-per-use charges, encouraged long conversations.

  • What

    In this shot of the interior of the home of Montreal businessman G. B. Thorn, you can see a telephone on the wall, as well as two receivers on the desk, in a room that very likely served as a home office.

  • Where

    In large upper-class houses with many rooms, it was possible to set up a home office.

  • When

    This photo was taken during the Great Depression of the 1930s. Several other rooms in the Thorn house, including the living room, dining room, library and kitchen, were photographed in the same session.

  • Who

    Businessmen like Mr. Thorn lived in residential neighbourhoods away from the unpleasant noise and fumes of industrial cities. With the telephone, they could remain in contact with their places of work although they were not there physically.