This entrepreneur and inventor was Edmonton’s first telegrapher,
meteorologist and timekeeper. Mostly, though, he is known as the
grandfather of the Edmonton’s first telephone system.
In 1883, an Edmonton committee had asked the Bell Telephone
Company to provide service, but the Eastern-based company would
agree to install a few phones, but no telephone exchange, at what
was considered an exorbitant cost.
One Edmontonian suggested a better idea. While working for the
Winnipeg-based Dominion Telegraph and Signal Service, Taylor
proposed running a telephone line from his telegraph office to St.
Albert. He purchased two English-made telephones phones of Spanish
mahogany and asked storeowner H.W. McKenney to be the keeper of the
device at the St. Albert end of the connection. On 3 January 1885,
the pair tested Northern Alberta’s first "long-distance" telephone
Taylor would co-found Edmonton’s first electric company in 1891
(the Edmonton Electric Light Company) and in 1893 its first
telephone company (the Edmonton & District Telephone Company). He
secured a 10-year telephone franchise with the town of Edmonton, and
illness would force him to sell the company in 1904.
In 1908, Alex Taylor School was named in his honour, and in
2004—a century after he sold his 400-subscriber telephone company to
Edmonton for $17,000—he would be named one of the 100 Edmontonians
of the Century to celebrate the city’s centennial.
Copyright © 2004
Heritage Community Foundation and
Telephone Historical Centre All Rights Reserved