Information, Please! – Ms. Frieda Lauchrey
While Information operators were intended by telephone companies to
be sources of telephone related information, such as particular
telephone numbers, they were the answer to all questions in the eyes
(and ears) of the public. From cooking to travel, the Information
Operator was supposed to know it all, which made for some very
interesting phone conversations. Former Operator Frieda Lauchrey
Child’s Call to Santa Claus – Ms. Isobel Peters
The Information Operator was often expected to give more information
than just correct phone numbers. At Christmas, children would call
in with various questions about Santa Claus. Former operator Isobel
Peters recounts one such call.
Becoming a Switchman – Mr. Alf Want
In 1919, Alf Want started his training as a switchman for the
telephone exchange. He recounts some of his experiences in this
Knowing the Score –
Mr. Alf Want
In the days when the famous Edmonton Grads challenged the world for
basketball supremacy, the switchmen were kept hopping on game
nights. On such nights, the information operator boards were
overloaded with calls from people seeking the latest score, as radio
was not available to make such information available to those who
couldn’t attend the games. Mr. Want recalls the days when the
telephone exchange workers knew the score.
Duties of a
Switchman – Mr. Alf Want
Keeping telephone exchanges running smoothly, without signal
interference or power loss, was the duty of the telephone switchman.
Alf Want, a former switchman, describes some of the responsibilities
of his trade.
The Life of an
Apprentice – Mr. Tom Wiley
Tom Wiley describes the many duties of the young men who apprenticed
as switchmen for the telephone exchange. There was a lot to learn
under close scrutiny, but practice made perfect as the apprentice
gained time and experience.
Climbing Down Poles – Mr. Gord Gerdes
Climbing telephone poles whose lines needed servicing was not so bad
with a little practice, but descending the poles was tougher than it
looked. Gord Gerdes remembers his first time trying to descend a
telephone pole after working on the raised lines.
Working On Poles In Rainy Weather – Mr. Gord Gerdes
Mr. Gerdes discusses how linemen found themselves up on the poles
regardless of the weather conditions. This could sometimes prove to
be a physical challenge.
Climbing Poles In Cold Weather – Mr. George Chilton
Climbing a telephone pole in fair weather was challenging enough,
but add ice and snow into the mix and one has a problem that only
experience can solve. Mr. Chilton discusses.
Stubborn Workers Refusing to Climb Down for Materials – Mr. George
When working on the telephone lines, linemen had to be sure to bring
all the necessary tools along, because it was a hassle to climb all
the way down the pole again to retrieve them. Mr. Chilton remembers
a comical incident in which two workers contended over who was going
to be the one to descend.
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Heritage Community Foundation and
Telephone Historical Centre All Rights Reserved