Operator. May I help you?: Bell Canada's 125 Years

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BELL-147ANG I-11529.1 II-72261.1 BELL-3ANG MP-0000.2101.3 BELL-6124 BELL-1ANG BELL-2784 BELL-34090
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Creative Commons License
Construction of Bell Telephone Co. building, Lagauchetiere St., Montreal, QC, 1948
Anonyme - Anonymous
1948, 20th century
Silver salts on paper mounted on linen - Gelatin silver process
20 x 25 cm
From Anglin-Norcross Limited
© McCord Museum
Keywords:  Architecture (8646) , Cityscape (3948) , commercial (1771) , Photograph (77678) , streetscape (1737)
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Keys to History

The Bell Telephone Company of Canada and the National Economy

Because of the sizeable investments required to build a telephone network and the system's impact on economic and urban growth, the telecommunications industry is one of the key sectors of the Canadian economy. In 1895 Bell subsidiary Northern Electric (forerunner of Nortel) began to produce telephones and switchboards in Montreal. By developing its manufacturing capacity, the company took an active part in establishing the telecommunications industry in Canada. On April 26, 1945, 65 years after its founding, Bell Canada installed its millionth telephone. Canada had a population of over 12 million at the time.

Considered to be a public utility, Bell Canada played a key role in establishing a unique technical expertise in the country. Thanks to Bell, Canada is one of the most technologically advanced countries. Benefitting from the latest innovations, its telecommunications network is on the leading edge of modern technology.

In April 1983, Bell Canada Enterprises Inc. (BCE) became Bell Canada's parent company and all Bell Canada shareholders became BCE shareholders.

  • What

    This picture shows the expansion of Bell Canada's Belmont exchange as it nears completion. Built in 1932, this imposing telephone exchange, which handles long-distance calls, has been expanded three times, in 1949, 1959 and 1967.

  • Where

    The Belmont exchange is at the corner of University and La Gauchetière streets in Montreal, next-door to Bell Canada's head office.

  • When

    In the aftermath of the Second World War, a new surge of development of the Canadian telephone system and the growth of long-distance service prompted companies to upgrade their equipment.

  • Who

    The original building and its expansions were designed by Montreal architects Barrott and Blackader, with Bell Canada's own architect, F. J. Macnab.