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
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
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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Heritage Community Foundation and
Telephone Historical Centre All Rights Reserved