Bell telephone office, Ste-Anne-de-Bellevue, QC, 1938
Sydney Jack Hayward
1938, 20th century
Bell Canada Historical Collection
This artefact belongs to: © Bell Canada
Keys to History:
Behind the Technology: Out of the Public Eye
When you think about phones and cities, poles and wires often spring to mind. But the telephone system requires a great many other installations that are less well known. Just think of the buildings housing switching equipment (telephone exchanges) and the administrative offices, which accommodate thousands of office workers and provide customer services. Up until 1904, subscribers had to go down to the Bell offices to pay their bills. After that, they could deal with company agents who made house calls.
As early as the 1890s, the Bell Telephone Company of Canada was concerned with ensuring that its buildings fit into their surroundings in the cities where it operated. Several architects designed imposing buildings and other more modest ones to accommodate company operations. Some of them blended right into residential neighbourhoods, skilfully disguised as little houses. You need a sharp eye to spot Bell exchanges!
This homey-looking building is actually an exchange, the heart of the telephone system containing switching equipment.
This exchange is in a residential area of Ste. Anne de Bellevue, a small town outside Montreal.
Between 1920 and 1930, Bell Canada opened 10 new exchanges in Montreal. The Ste. Anne de Bellevue exchange was opened in 1938.
The architect was F. J. Macnab, a Bell employee. Macnab also helped design the imposing exchange at 671 La Gauchetière, in downtown Montreal.