Part 9 – [Geraldton : An Alternative History]

The Geraldton switchboard of Long Lac Telephones ca 1949. The operator to the R is Ada-Jean Frost (later McCarthy); the person to the L is unidentified. See two sidebars. Photo source unknown.


The telephone was an early “resident” of Geraldton[. It] became
an accepted form of [communication] in the quickly developing
community shortly after the discovery of gold led to the rapid
growth of the area in the early 1930’s. The first [long-distance]
service was provided by Long Lac Telephones Limited for Little
Long Lac Mines (sic).

The first officers of the company were H. A. Coon, president;
E.T. Downs, secretary -[treasurer;] Directors were J. MacKenzie
from Bankfield and J.C. Dumbrille from Hardrock. The first employees
were [Reg Gibbs, manager,] and Hank Burden[,] lineman.

The January 29 ,1937 edition of the Fort William Times Journal
reported [that “the] telephone line from Geraldton to the head of
the lakes will be taken over and [operated] by the Bell Telephone
Company when completed. All calls to the two cities (Port Arthur
and Fort William) will be handled through Fort William exchange.
An exchange is being established at Geraldton with branches for
long distance use at Beardmore and Jellicoe, and it is likely
that [exchanges] will be [established] at these two points later.”

Local telephone service began in Geraldton February 28,

  1. On that date, Long Lac Telephone Limited opened an
    exchange which initially served 100 telephones. [Customers
    turned] a crank on the telephone to signal the operator.
    Local residents were amazed to learn that during the first
    few days after the exchange opened, Geraldton’s first two
    operators , Madge Bruneau and Ada Leach[,] were making
    [connections] for 400 local calls and 56 long distance calls a day.

Clara Doust [(Marino),] Mary Daneff (Tweedie),]and Iris Cotter
(Webb) were early operators for the telephone system. One year
Clara and Iris both gave birth to twins, just a short time apart.
The two sets of twins consisted of a boy and a girl. The word
around town was “[Oh, well,] those two always did get the wrong
number. “

A sidebar . . .
A sidebar . . .

5 thoughts on “Part 9 – [Geraldton : An Alternative History]

  1. I think the other lady might be Dixie Smith. Sorry dont know any other info on her and Smith would have been her maiden name.


  2. Edgar, thanks for all that you do to document the rich and fascinating history of the area. My Mom in the photo Ada Jean McCarthy loved this job. We just lost Mom at the age of 91 on March 4/23. My Dad who is 90 and has a great memory identifies the other woman in the photo as Joy Martenson. (Married Name) She was my Mom’s boss and the one who hired her.
    Thanks again! Best wishes to you,
    Kim McCarthy


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: