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John T. Moore

Red Deer promoter John T. Moore incorporated the Western Telephone Company 5 January 1903, and by 1904 was also supplying the town with its first electricity through the Western General Electric Company.

The former Toronto alderman, engineer and land developer came west in 1881, first to Saskatchewan, and then Alberta. In 1903, Red Deer town council granted him a 25-year franchise for combined telephone and electrical service through the Western General Electric Company. The telephones using a central-energy or common-battery system, the first of its kind in Alberta. However, as Moore continued to establish his sevice, so, too did the Bell Telephone Company enter the community, at the behest of the federal government in Ottawa, to string pole lines on Red Deer’s major streets. Simply put, Bell was more efficient in providing service to Red Deer than Moore, despite the fact that Bell was not welcome by the town’s administration. As the Red Deer Advocate wrote on 15 December 1904: "The avarice of the Bell Telephone Company. in overriding the decisions of municipalities by its having a Dominion charter is leading many places to advocate government ownership of trunk lines. Municipalities who fail to encourage the growth of telephone competition still further strengthen a monopoly which every year will acquire a tighter hold upon the people who will become more and more powerless to get their right which have been voted away by the men whom they elected to protect them."

In 1904, then, this naturally instigated something of a telephone war in Red Deer, the first and only Alberta town to experience such a conflict. Moore lost the contract for long-distance service to the Bell Telephone Company, and sold Western General Electric to Red Deer in 1926.

Little wonder, then, that Moore favoured a government-owned telephone system that in 1908 would buy out Bell for $675,000.


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