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John Lister Kaye

The Medicine Hat-based British financier owned the Canadian Agricultural, Coal and Colonization Company, as well as the 76 Ranching Company, which controlled 11 ranches and over 40,468.5 hectares along the CPR rail line. In March 1896, he encouraged John Ellis, his manager at the Stair Ranch, to devise the first recorded barbed wire telephone system in Alberta.

Sir John Lister-KayeThe Stair Ranch was located 12.8 kilometres west of Medicine Hat on the present site of the town of Redcliff. The fence used for transmission belonged to the CPR, and the telephone was installed in the CPR station. The wire then ran across the railroad bridge, and connected to the fence’s top strand, and from there into the ranch house.

As Tony Cashman writes in Singing Wires: "When the homesteaders arrived and began stringing them across the land they appeared to be barriers to communication. But as John Ellis was first to demonstrate they could be a means of communication."

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