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Edmonton District Telephone Company

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.

Operator at switchboard 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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