Monday, April 7, 2014


Leonard Frank took this photo of the British Columbia Telephone building at the corner of Georgia and Seymour Street in 1927.

Same information as above
This photo, taken by Philip Timms, goes back to 1909 and is of another BCTel building.

Mr. Timms took this photo in the early 1900s of high tension wires. However, if you look to the side of the towers, you can see a house with telephone wires.

For many years, residents of British Columbia had phone service supplied by BCTel - British Columbia Telephone. 

In 1904, the Victoria and Esquimalt Telephone Company and the New Westminster and Burrard Inlet Telephone Company were taken over by the Vernon and Nelson Telephone Company. The name was then changed to the British Columbia Telephone Company Limited. 

The British Columbia Telephone Company Limited obtained a federal charter to drop the 'limited' from their name in 1916.

June 12, 1914. R. Broadbridge takes this photo of the B.C. Telephone parade float on Drake Street. (Possibly at Howe?). This was a historical pageant and it is a Parsons Haddock Company Ltd truck.

A 1918 photo of laying telephone cable at Quatsino Sound. Taken by Ben W. Leeson.
Leonard Frank took this 1940 photo of a B.C. Tel "Line Wagon".

Vehicle produced by the Hayes Manufacturing Company.

Theodore Gary and Company (A US company) bought a large interest in B.C. Telephone in December of 1926, which was held in Canada under the name of the Anglo-Canadian Telephone company. At that time, the Gary company held interest in the International Automatic Telephone Company and British Insulated Cables. Mr. G H Halse remained as President and General Manager of BC Telephone and BC Telephone participated in Canada's first coast to coast radio broadcast in celebration of Canada's Diamond Jubilee on July 1, 1927.

A charter was obtained on April 1, 1929 for a new company under BC Telephone to be called "North West Telephone Company". This company was formed to experiment with radio-telephony in order to better serve areas of the province unreachable by wire. The first such experiment provided a connection from Powell River to Campbell River - 50 feet over water.

On Monday, January 21, 1935 rain and sleet began early in the morning. 1500 telephone poles and 700 miles of wire came down in the Fraser Valley. Victoria had 1800 telephones out of service. The trans Canada toll line wasn't operational again until February 10 of the same year. This was a record for storm damage.

The Leonard Frank Studio is credited for this 1947 photo of the Cedar Exchange on West 10th Avenue and Yew Street.
March 21, 1922 is the year. The Dominion Photo Company is the photographer. Telephone operators of the subject.

The Dominion Photo Company took this 1898 photo of the Vancouver Exchange of the New Westminster and Burrard Inlet Telephone Company.
February 24, 1940 at B.C. Tel's Seymour Exchange. The Dominion Photo Company.

Things started to change in 1955. That was the year that GTE and the Theodore Gary Company merged and GTE became 50.2 percent owner of the British Columbia Telephone Company. January 1, 1961, North West Telephone Company merged with British Columbia Telephone Company. In 1979, the British Columbia Telephone Company formed AEL Microtel when it acquired Automatic Electric Canada. The name was soon shortened to Microtel.

In 1982, BTE - Business Terminal Equipment, was formed to compete in the newly deregulated premise equipment field. In 1985, BC Telephone formed BC Cellular to compete in the new cellular phone business and on May 1, 1993, the company reorganized and changed its legal operating name to BCTel.

Fast forward to 1999. The phone industry was deregulated earlier that decade and with the competition of copper lines with cell phones totally changed the business environment. BCTel merged with an Alberta telephone company, Telus, and was originally registered as BCT. Telus. A bit long. So the company started searching for a new name before deciding to just call it Telus with headquarters in Vancouver. This merger made Telus the second largest telephone company in Canada, next to Bell.

February 27, 1940, B.C. Telephone operator. Photo taken by Dominion Photo Co.
Dominion Photo Co took this photo August 28, 1940 of the B.C. Telephone Long Distance Display.

B.C. Telephone building in the 1920s, same photographer as above.
Telephone lineman on April 8, 1927. Same photographer.

I want to thank Wikipedia for the information on BCTel and the Vancouver Public Library online archives for the photos.

I hope you find the beauty around you.

Leonard Frank took this 1926 photo of a B.C. Telephone building.


  1. Interesting storyline and great pictures. Thanks for the history lesson. ;)

    1. you are very welcome Lee! Thank you.

  2. a perfect connection,bc tel and telus the boot.and telephone poles the eye^
    daniel gordon sparrow or better.