Nova Scotia Electric Telegraph Company

Historical Notes

#   1849 June 9: Advertisement, call for tenders
#   1851 March: Act to Incorporate the Nova Scotia Electric Telegraph Co.

Service area: "Any town, village, hamlet, or place in the province" (see below, Section 4 of the 1851 Act of Incorporation).

1847 March 30

Nova Scotia Electric Telegraph Company

On this day, the Nova Scotia Legislature passed 10 Victoria chapter 58, An Act to Incorporate the Nova Scotia Electric Telegraph Company, with an authorized capital of £5,000, "to construct and operate a telegraph line between Halifax and the New Brunswick border, to meet the telegraph line from Quebec and St. Andrews, and such branch lines as might appear necessary and expedient."  Nothing was done, and the next year this Act was repealed.

1849 June

Contract for Building an Electric Telegraph

A single wire, number nine

A prominent display advertisement appeared in Halifax newspapers in June 1849, calling for tenders for construction of Nova Scotia's first electric telegraph line, from Halifax through Truro to Amherst and continuing northward to connect with the New Brunswick Electric Telegraph Company's line near the Nova Scotia boundary.  This telegraph line would be the last link in a continuous electric telegraph line all the way from Halifax to Boston and New York.

The advertisement appeared in multiple issues of several newspapers, including the Times and Courier of 9 June 1849, and the Novascotian of 11 June 1849.  There were slight differences in the wording of the various ads; for example, the Novascotian ad stated "The whole line will be required to be completed in good working order, and ready... for immediate use, on or before the last day of October next", while the Times and Courier ad specified "...on or before the 1st day of November next".  These variations were minor and of no real consequence.

Advertisement in the Halifax Times and Courier
9 June 1849

Nova Scotia Electric Telegraph tender call, June 1849

for Building an Electric Tele-
graph from Halifax to Amherst and
onwards, in the Province of
Nova Scotia

      Sealed Tenders will be received un-
til the 30th day of June next, for building
a Line of Electric Telegraph, starting from the City of
Halifax – following the public road on the western side of
Bedford Basin, thence from the head of the Basin to the
Eastern Post Road from Halifax to Truro, and from Tru-
ro to the north-west boundary of Nova Scotia, passing
through the village of Amherst – following generally the
line of the Post Road, or such other line near thereto as
may be hereafter directed by the Commissioners.
      The line will be built forty posts to the mile – said posts
to be of Hacmatac or Cedar, 25 feet in length, 6 inches
in diameter at the top, stripped of bark, as nearly straight
as the natural growth will permit, and each post to be
set five feet in the ground, either in sand or gravel, and
strongly embedded.  Where rocks occur, they are to be
firmly secured by means of foot bands and braces ; or by a
wall of stone well lade [laid], not less than five feet in height,
wedging towards the poles; and where soft or wet earth
or clay is found, the hole shall be enlarged sufficiently,
and the earth replaced with stone, so as to prevent equal-
ly the poles from being disturbed or driven from the per-
pendicular by the action of violent winds, or their up-
heaving in soft and wet soil by the frost.
      Where the Line passes through forests, dead trees and
all other tress, which, by falling, may touch the wires,
to be cut down at the expense of the Contractor – the ob-
ject being to prevent the working of the Line being af-
fected by wind falls.
      The line is to be constructed with a single line of wire,
of the best quality, number nine, and weighing not less
than 330 lbs. to the mile – such wire to be firmly con-
nected with, and yet insulated from, the top of the posts
by the Patent Insulator – of which a pattern may be seen
by applying at the office of the Provincial Secretary.  It
consists of a cast iron shaft, with teeth cup and cover,
glass ball, with bolt and shoulder, nuts and screws at
each end to secure the wire firmly to the glass ball.  The
glass ball to be cemented in the cast iron cup, with a
non-conducting cement, by a lining of some non-conduct-
ing substance between the bolt head and the cover, so as
to secure a insulation, and to protect the glass from frac-
ture and other damage.
      The party contracting will be required to furnish the
necessary Registers, Batteries, and magnets, of the latest
and best quality, of Morse's Patent, for not less than
three stations – their different sites to be hereafter ap-
pointed by the Commissioners.
      The whole line will be required to be completed in
good working order, and ready to be delivered to the
Commissioners or their Agents fit for immediate use, on
or before the 1st day of November next.
      The Tenders will not include the cost of the Poles –
the Commissioners having already arranged, by Contract,
for a sufficient number of these to build the whole line ;
and these will be laid down in such quantities and sites
as may be required.
      Ample and satisfactory security will be required for
the due and faithful performance of the work, as above
      W. MURDOCH
      June 2
Note: The above ad appeared, and the Halifax - Amherst telegraph line was built, about eighteen months before the Nova Scotia Electric Telegraph Company was formed in the spring of 1851.

Joseph Howe
George R. Young
W. Murdoch
A.G. Archibald
Thomas Logan, (1794-1875) farmer at Amherst, Nova Scotia; Member of the Provincial Parliament at Halifax representing Amherst Township 1843-1847.

1851 March

Act to Incorporate the
Nova Scotia Electric Telegraph Company

14 Victoria, chapter 17

On 31 March 1851, the Nova Scotia Legislature passed the Act to incorporate the Nova Scotia Electric Telegraph Company.  Excerpts from that Act follow:

Section 1: Proprietors of the electric telegraph company
Thomas Killam, William A. Henry, Hiram Hyde, and all other persons who shall become proprietors of shares in the company hereby established, shall be a body corporate by the name of the Nova-Scotia electric telegraph company.

Section 3: Capital stock of company
The capital or joint stock of the company shall be twenty thousand pounds, but the company shall have the power to increase this amount to the extent of the cost of any branch lines of electric telegraph that may be built and joined to the lines of the company, and the capital shall be divided into shares of five pounds each.

Section 4: Company may build lines throughout the province
The company may build lines of electric telegraph from any point or place to any town, village, hamlet, or place in the province, and through, across, or under any stream, gulf, strait, or body of water.

Section 5: Different sections
The line on the western post road, via Windsor, Kentville, Annapolis, Digby to Yarmouth, shall be one section; from Halifax, via Lunenburg, Liverpool, Shelburne to Yarmouth, another section; and from Pictou to Sydney, Cape Breton, another section; but the whole shall be under the management of the corporation as one general company.

Section 7: Governor to transfer Halifax and Amherst line to company
When the company have connected Yarmouth, Liverpool, and Windsor, with Halifax, and Sydney, Cape Breton, with Pictou, by electric telegraph, the governor in council shall transfer to the company, the line of electric telegraph, with all its appurtenances, now erected between Halifax and Amherst, the company paying to the government the first cost of the line less the surplus revenue derived from the line over and above five pounds per cent. per annum, and the company shall thereupon accept the line and pay therefor as stipulated in this clause.

Section 8: One general rule of charge
One general scale or rate of charges shall prevail over the province, that is to say, no greater sum shall be demanded for the transmission of a message a given distance in one direction than is charged for the same number of words in another direction.

Section 11: Shareholders in any town may elect directors
...(more to come)

1852 August 11
Telegraph line completed, Halifax to Sydney

A telegraph office was opened in Antigonish on 19 July 1852,
by the Nova Scotia Electric Telegraph Company. 
On 11 August 1852, telegraph communication was completed between Halifax and Sydney.
Source: Pictou Antigonish Regional Library (PARL)

Testimonial letter to the Board of Directors
of the American Telegraph Company, New York,
on behalf of Jesse Hoyt
8 May 1860

Testimonial for Jesse Hoyt, manager of the former
Nova Scotia Electric Telegraph Company, signed
by the Bishop of Nova Scotia and 206 others;
recommending Hoyt as superintendent for Nova Scotia,
"in preference to a stranger," now that the NS Company
has been absorbed by the American Telegraph Company.
8 May 1860   12 pages

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These links were accessed and found to be valid on 13 March 2010.

Go To:   History of Telegraph and Telephone Companies in Nova Scotia

Go to:   Ode to the Code ...Morse Code is officially retired...
Go to:   Farewell to Morse Code
Go To:   The Duke of Kent's Signal Stations by S.G. Roscoe
Go To:   Transportation and Communications Links between Nova Scotia and New Brunswick in 1849
Go To:   History of Electric Power Companies in Nova Scotia

Go To:   History of Railway Companies in Nova Scotia

Go To:   Nova Scotia History, Chapter One

Go To:   Nova Scotia Historical Biographies

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