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Lethbridge and Cardston Telephone Company

Through Lethbridge’s first mayor Charles A. Magrath, this early long-distance company became established in 1894 using an unlikely trio of Mormons, Mounties and town boosters.

In March 1893, Magrath began negotiations to create the 112.6 kilometre long-distance telephone line that would become the Lethbridge and Cardston Telephone Company. On 3 January 1904, Magrath, the Mormon bishop Charles Ora Card from Cardston, and his fellow Mormons, O.L. Robinson, K.W. Taylor, Heber Allen and Richard Pilling filed a notice of intention to apply for letters patent to operate the company.

Magrath’s idea was to extend telephone service in its original application beyond the electoral district of Lethbridge, conceiving a loop that would include in its grasp Pincher Creek, MacLeod and Lethbridge. However, he was unable to convince federal authorities to allow such and extension, and relied instead on the company’s original intents.

By June 1894, Cardston, Lethbridge and the Mountie outpost on a hill overlooking the Montana border had their telephone line, after volunteer work by the area’s Mormon settlers cutting telephone poles and North West Mounted Police comptroller Fred White sponsoring an appropriation through Parliament for $2,100 to cover the cost of stringing the wire.

The company had been capitalized at $10,000 with the Mormon volunteers being given stock according to the contributions of poles and labour.

The Cardston partners, Card, Robinson and Allen added Sterling Williams and Sam Matkin to their board and formed a company that would offer local telephone service within Cardston.

The Farmers’ Water and Telephone Company was incorporated in 1902, but according to Tony Cashman in his telephone history of Alberta, Singing Wires, the company did not advance beyond the organization stage to actually provide telephone service.

 


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