Alex Taylor was Edmonton’s father of the telephone, after
initiating the first phone call between Edmonton and St. Albert in
1883, followed in 1887 by what is considered to be the first
long-distance call in the province: a 15-minute call via telegraph
wires to Battleford, 490 kilometres from Edmonton.
Taylor’s company emerged from the debacle resulting from
Edmonton’s application to the Bell Telephone Company of Canada for
service in Edmonton, a telephone exchange and connections with St.
Albert and Fort Saskatchewan. When Bell refused to install any more
than a token number of telephones over what amounted to an enormous
party line, Taylor showed that homegrown know-how could create a
telephone system. In 1893, Edmonton’s first telephone company came
into existence, and Taylor secured a 10-year telephone franchise
with the town of Edmonton.
From 1887 until 1904 when illness forced him to sell his company,
Taylor would amass 400 subscribers. Edmonton was a town on the cusp
of becoming a city, and in 1904 Taylor accepted the offer of $17,000
for his system. The new company, City Telephones—later, to be known
as Edmonton Telephones—was taken over on 1 January 1905.
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Heritage Community Foundation and
Telephone Historical Centre All Rights Reserved