Toronto CNT

These photos are thumbnail prints.  Click on pictures to see enlarged views.


This photo by S.F. Piggott dated March 20th 1914,  shows  a construction gang of linemen of the Great North West Telegraph Company installing a new pole line along the railway tracks somewhere in Toronto, Ont. The foreman of the gang was J. Charlebois.

A load of new cross arms are carried on the lorry.

The nearby building on the right side of the photo has the following painted on it- “The High Grade Oil Co Limited, Manufacturers of Lubricating Oils and Auto Cup Greases”. 

One year after this photo was taken, the control of the G.N.W. Telegraph Company was acquired by the Canadian Northern Railway. When the Canadian Northern Railway was amalgamated as part of the Canadian National Railway System, the former G.N.W. Telegraph Company was integrated with the C.N.R.’s telegraph system, and was thereafter known as Canadian National Telegraphs.

It is interesting to note that later generations of the Charlebois family carried on the occupation of lineman with the C.N. Telegraphs.  It is thought that two linemen who worked throughout Ontario in the 1960’s and later,-  Ray Charlebois, and Regent Charlebois, were nephews of the J. Charlebois who was foreman of the gang shown in the 1914 photo.


 G.N.W. Telegraph linemen using pike poles, raise a large telegraph pole in this 1914 view.

Above photos and story By: Gordon D. Smithson, (retired District Equipment Technician, Kingston,Ont) who also submitted the following article.



                        As a newly trained Automatic Operator taught in 1953 by Doris McLellan at the school run on Adelaide Street, Toronto, I stepped off the elevator onto the 10th floor, 347 Bay Street, into the large telegraph relay room. It was a hectic place with a noise pattern I had never encountered before.

                             There were hundreds of teletype machines, people all over the place working on sending or receiving telegraph messages, people hollering every once in a while “R X”. It seemed it took a large number of staff to keep the system going. The pneumatic tube system was constantly making its pumphhh sound as a cylinder arrived. Routing Aides were constantly coming and going with messages.

                             The majority of the staff were called Automatic Operators, specially trained to type telegrams onto a five level perforated tape which converted the message into telegraphic impulses that could be transmitted over telegraph wires to distant towns and cities across Canada and the U.S.A.

                             Some of the older employees homesteaded themselves to working the same circuit each day, and each time a class of newly trained employees came on staff, they were assigned to work with one of the experienced employees until they gained a sufficient working knowledge and would then work on their own.

                             Bob Cresswell gave out assignments to those of us who didn’t have a regular circuit, and we would give the regulars their lunch and short reliefs. After a few months we could expect to relieve any operator within the room, with the exception of the Overseas International circuit – only a very few were allowed to work it due to its unique operating routine.

                             When we had to question telegram content that didn’t read correct, we had Supervisory Aides, namely- Bob Boycott, Bill Lyons, Jim Gray, Len Hughes, Frank Faithful, Alex Ingram, Norm Savill, and Wilf Newans, who would give advice as to modifying or leaving text content as originally received.

                             At one side of the room, Supervisor D.S. McLean was accountable that all did their jobs, and when someone pulled a booboo, he called you over to explain why e.g. “Why did you change the wording in this telegram when you sent it?” 

                              I had it happen once, I typed it wrong, and some flowers didn’t arrive where they were supposed to. This was usually if someone interrupted you when you were concentrating on typing what was in front of you. About twice monthly, Frank Faithful would spot check your perforated tapes to ensure you were following accepted operating practices in typing your perforated tapes. Oh yes, we had to know how to read the perforated tapes, eventually it was easier to read with more experience behind you.

                             We had a number pad, with a stack of telegrams under it, ‘whammmh’ insert a new number, type the telegram on the perforated tape, insert the tape into the transmitter distributor, and it was whisked away to its final destination, or to another major Relay Office, similar to the one here. Meanwhile, the narrow tape on the receive only Model 14 teletype was receiving incoming telegrams and spilling out waiting for someone to glue it down onto a telegraph blank.

                             If the incoming telegram had the words RUSH in the top line, when you completed gluing it to the telegraph blank, you raised your voice to holler out – “R X’ and slip the blank up under a metal clamp. A routing aide was supposed to respond and come immediately to speed  the telegram to its next routing,  so it didn’t get held up with the normal message traffic.

                             Other names that come to mind are Ward Kaufman, Early Night Supervisor, and Harry Murdock, Late Night Supervisor.

                             Some of the inter-city circuits were routed over a multiplex system, and maintenance of the syncronization of these mux-heads as they were called, was handled by Johnny Becker, Frank Babbington,  John Fawthrop, and Fred Cox. They also had to repair and/or replace any of the perforator keyboards, teletypes, and associated equipment that required attention.

                             In the rear corner of the operating room, was the MORSE Department, with about twelve morse operators on duty copying messages mostly from the station agents or telegraph operators of the Canadian National Railway. These messages could be commercial telegrams, or messages of  railway business.


Submitted by: Gordon D. Smithson, former Automatic Operator CNT TORONTO 1953-1958




5 level Transmitter Distributor     Model 14 Receive Only Tape Printer


Model 15 Page Printers were used on the TieLines such as Canada Packers, and Schneiders Meats Kitchener,  Lil Hider and Lucy Church were regulars on these circuits  located in front of Bob Cresswell’s desk.  Their messages were all in code, very hard to type, and very few Relief operators were allowed on these two circuits.

Above photos and story By: Gordon D. Smithson, (retired District Equipment Technician, Kingston,Ont)



NOVEMBER 26th 1953










ACES stuck in first place by taking a 5-2 split from DP’SSS while SPARKIES dropped into second place being defeated by EAGLES 5-2 and the HAWKS dropped to third place by losing all seven to the ROBBERS. With one week left in this first series the ACES seem to be sailing and unless they fall flat on their face should win the series.

Verna Kaldun for the ACES turned it on hot and heavy with 721 flat to gross 811 which helped her team in no small way to stay in first place. Other good flat scores were Tom Wensley 656, E.Devonshire 617 and Dona Warminger 603.

Despite the efforts of Tom Wensley with 827 gross and Dona Warminger with 765 gross for the DP’SSS they were defeated by the A’s because of Verna Kaldun 811, Joyce Selly 670 and Eddie Daly 647.

SPARKIES were no match for the EAGLES who bowled very well in the following order, Stan Doyle 658, Rose Donofrio 629 Shirley Peacock 605 and Jackie Cavalier 603. Myrtle Goetz was best for SPARKIES with 656 followed by Susie Courtney 629 and Dev 617.

The ROBBERS featuring Marilyn Colville 680, Jim Gray 669, Bob Boycott 651 and Gord Smithson 635 defeated the HAWKS 7-0. The best for the HAWKS were Wilf Keene 661, Bill Worfolk 604 and Doreen Prescott 601.

The HONEYS pulled their best bowling of the season out of the hat to defeat GOPHERS 5-2 led by Vic Hill 729 and followed by Shirley Powell 695, Russell Gilchrist 663 and Jack Brown 632. Helen Ritchie 704 and Colin Balmer 618 were the heavy hitters for the GOPHERS.



Next Week.

The following names comprise the 400pm-midnight employees who worked as Automatic Operators, Supervisory Aides ,and Mux Mechanics working on the 10th floor, and Management employees  on other floors of the Canadian National Telegraph building located at 347 Bay Street in downtown Toronto.

Although this bowling team list is half a century old, it may be of interest to you in associating a name with your visual memories of that name.

We had a unique working-social relationship in those years, Happy Times!


HONEYS                    ALLEYS 25-26           SPARKIES

Jack Brown                                               E.Devonshire

Russell Gilchrist                                        Peggy Quinn

June Lerch                                                Leon Jacques

Joan Selly                                                 Susie Courtney

Shirley Powell                                            Bob Guay

Victor Hill                                                  Myrtle Goetz


EAGLES                     ALLEYS 27-28           GOPHERS

John Becker                                              Wilf Newans

Bill Mitchell                                               George Filmore

Jackie Cavalier                                          Lil Hider

Shirley Peacock                                         Helen Ritchie

Rose Donofrio                                            Colin Balmer

Stan Doyle                                                Bobby Deschamps


HAWKS                      ALLEYS 29-30           ACES

Al Lennox                                                  Mike Richard

Bill Worfolk                                                Eddie Daly

Doreen Prescott                                          Verna Kaldun

Beryl Sweetman                                         Claire Walsh

Beverly Morton                                           Midge Lynch

Guy Desormeaux                                        Joyce Selly


DP’SSS                       ALLEYS 31-32           ROBBERS

Gaetan Laferriere                                        Jim Gray

Steve Maczko                                             Bob Boycott

Sylvia Ring                                                Marilyn Colville

Dona Warminger                                        Marjorie Fillingham

Sofie Nicolof                                              Ruth Quantz

Bonnie Bickerstaffe                                    Roly Peacock

Above story By: Gordon D. Smithson, (retired District Equipment Technician, Kingston,Ont)



Peter  Ray Whiting age 17.jpg (49354 bytes)

Peter Jones (on curbside) and Ray Whiting walking down Bay Street in Toronto about 1945 or 1946.


M Guest.jpg (28403 bytes)

Midge Guest circa 1948-49 

Bicycle Safety.jpg (61213 bytes)

Len Ferguson submitted this card showing the CNT bicycle safety requirements.

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Len ferguson submitted this CNT telegram notification tag.

CNT Bay St.jpg (80248 bytes)

Len Ferguson submitted this photo of the Automatic Department on Bay Street Circa 1950.  Norm Saville is in the lower right hand of the picture.  Does anyone know the identity of the other operators in the picture.

Stan Doyle submitted the above photo of the staff at KI CNT Office

Peter Jones Clerking.jpg (26144 bytes)

This picture was taken in 1950. Peter Jones is  the Clerk behind the counter and the  gentleman that Peter is supposed to be serving is actually a Norm Saville who was roll playing and he actually was the relief Teleprinter Operator.

CNT Management Meeting.jpg (103009 bytes)

The above picture was submitted by Mike Ricks.  It is the 1951 Annual CNT Management meeting at 151 Front Street In Toronto.

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CNT Systems Training course in Toronto  in 1953.

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George Philips found this old photo in his archives and he is hoping someone might be able to identify some of the staff..   Marjorie Lecky has put some names to faces. The photo was taken sometime in the year 1954 of the Superintendent's Office staff (as they were called then) at 119 Adelaide Street in Toronto.

Peter Jones 2.jpg (37243 bytes)

This picture was taken in 1969. Peter Jones is on left with Morley Kipp receiving 1969 CNT Toastmasters Award by Bob Symonds who is a CNCP Retiree now living in Newfoundland.

CNCP 1986 YMCA.jpg (88962 bytes)

Brian Milne submitted this photo of the team entered in the 1986 YMCA Corporate Challenge.

CNCP 1987 YMCA.jpg (87542 bytes)

Brian Milne submitted this photo of the team entered in the 1987 YMCA Corporate Challenge.

Retirement party.jpg (138693 bytes)

The picture above was taken at the CNCP  Retirement Party held at the Leaside Memorial Gardens on April 15, 1988, and includes all the retirees in the Ontario District for the 1987 year (at least all those who were able to attend). It was the company intention, at that time to hold one of these parties each year for the retirees in that year. I'm not sure that it was ever repeated, as things started going badly for Unitel shortly thereafter, with downsizing etc., making a party of this nature impractical. (Submitted by Len Ferguson) 

Graduation Picture of T&R Class 1980 Toronto (Submitted by Ron Hart)

Click Picture for Larger View


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Date this page was last Updated

04/09/08 03:08:45 PM