The Museum’s Blog

Courtenay’s Centennial: A New Phone System

Throughout this year, the museum newsletter will be providing glimpses into the back story on the City’s Incorporation, history and development.

Courtenay’s communication system took a leap forward on May 3, 1941 courtesy of a BC Telephone Company upgrade. “Cranking” the phone to contact the operator became a thing of the past – the operator was signaled simply by lifting the receiver. Once connected with the operator, callers were required to give the new telephone number of who they were calling instead of the name. That meant a new telephone directory and, for Courtenay, a new telephone office on Cliffe Avenue.

Comox District Free Press, May 8, 1941

New ‘Phone System Cut-over Saturday

Courtenay’s new and improved telephone system went into operation last Saturday evening at 10 o’clock in an interesting ceremony which was attended by Mayor Simms, representing the city of Courtenay, representatives of various local organizations and many British Columbia Telephone Company officials. The cut-over to the new system, which had taken three full months of painstaking preparation, occupied just three seconds. Immediately after contact had been made the operators at the switchboard in the fine new Telephone Office were deluged by calls which were answered in an efficient manner under the supervision of Miss Walker, district traffic supervisor.

An interested witness of the ceremony was Mr. Joseph McPhee, 93-year-old Courtenay pioneer, in whose grocery store the first Courtenay switchboard was set up over thirty years ago.

Among the Company officials present were Mr. Simpson, District Commercial Manager, Mr. McIntosh, Assistant Sales Manager, Mr. Ross, Equipment Engineer, Mr. Janes, Maintenance Superintendent, Mr. J. Borrie, foreman in charge of installation, Mr. Leo Griggs, District Superintendent, Mr. J.W. Hough, district plant man, and a number of other district plant men, engineers and workmen were present.