Nova Scotia Telephone Company
1887 - 1910

Historical Notes

Also see: Maritime Telegraph & Telephone Company

On 28 November 1887, the Bell Telephone Company sold its
telephone  and  telegraph  operations  in  Nova  Scotia  and
New Brunswick to the Nova Scotia Telephone Company.
National Post, 28 November 2000

•   #   1905: Manager's testimony
•   #   1905: Winfield's List of Nova Scotia telephone companies
•   #   1905: Exhibit 71, 17th Annual Report
•   #   1905: Exhibit 72, Long-Distance Lines
•   #   1905: Exhibit 75, Agreements between Telcos
•   #   1907: Pictou County
•   #   J.H. Winfield
•   #   Opposition by C.F. Sise

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Appointed to inquire into the various
Telephone Systems in operation in
Canada and Elsewhere


To extend its reach across Canada the Bell Telephone Company of Canada needed capital and a secure legal mandate.  The first condition was obtained by aligning the company with the National Bell Telephone Company in the U.S., and with the emerging Canadian commercial, financial, and mercantile elite.  The American contingent appointed to the Canadian company's board included William Forbes, president of U.S. National Bell, Theodore Vail, National Bell's general manager, and Charles F. Sise, National Bell's U.S. representative to Canada.

Given the growing nationalist sentiment, it was also decided that the company should have Canadian representatives on its board.  Through such appointments the company established connections with leading Canadian financial, industrial, and political institutions, such as the Royal Trust, the Bank of Montreal, Banque Canadienne Nationale, La Caisse d'Economique du Quebec, Continental Life Insurance Co, Sun Life Insurance Co., Molson Breweries, Canadian Industries Ltd., Canadian Pacific Railway, the Liberal Party, etc.

A stable legal context for the extension of a national telephone system was secured when the federal government asserted legislative control over the telephone system and granted the company a Charter with extensive rights.  The charter was introduced into Parliament on February 23, 1880, and was passed less than a month later by both the House and the Senate.  The only substantive debate was whether or not the Bill usurped too much power from the provinces and municipalities, as it stripped them of any power to control the company's operations...

In 1905 the government of Manitoba studied the feasibility of public ownership, and lobbied the federal government to amend Bell's charter to allow provincial appropriation of its property in the province.

Manitoba's inquiries were joined by petitions from Trade and Labour Councils, the Union of Canadian Municipalities, the Montreal Chamber of Commerce, retail merchants of Ontario, numerous municipalities, private citizens, and independent telephone companies.  Each petitioner alleged inadequate service and anti-competitive actions by Bell, and asked for some form of government ownership of the telephone system.

The Mulock Committee

Although the federal government did not directly entertain the requests, it convened a committee to investigate the telephone system in Canada and elsewhere.  The Mulock Committee, named after its chairman, sat 43 times and received interventions from members of the public, co-operatively run telephone companies, municipal governments, foreign telephone systems and experts, and Bell management, among others.  The scope of the proceedings testified to the increasing national importance of the telephone...

At the time the form of ownership and control to take place in Canadian telecommunication were far from settled questions.

During the hearings, reference was made to municipal ownership, conditional municipal franchises, ownership and regulation by the Postmaster General, private ownership of local networks and state ownership of the long-distance network, state ownership, privately owned co-operative, as well as government chartered private companies.

Throughout the hearings Bell was criticized for its: excessive long-distance rates; high urban rates; almost complete lack of rural service; neglect of small towns and villages; anti-competitive practices by way of establishing restrictive covenants with public places such as railways; refusal to interconnect with independent telephone companies; and higher costs and lower general availability in comparison to countries like Denmark, Norway, Sweden, and Britain.

Bell countered that the problem was basically one of economic principles, and the maintenance of technical standards for network integrity.

Essentially, Bell wanted to engage in cream skimming, serving areas of substantial economic development and easily accessible by major waterways or railways, rather than undeveloped and less lucrative areas.

At the close of the hearings the committee's invited expert, Francis Dagger, recommended that the government spend $3,300,000 to assume ownership over the local networks and long-distance facilities, while allowing local municipalities to retain the right to construct their own systems or grant conditional franchises.  He also suggested that technical standards and attachment privileges be legislated in order to allow interconnection...

Source: A Social History of Canadian Telecommunications by Dwayne Winseck (Leicester University)
Canadian Journal of Communication, v20, n2 (1995)

Appointed to inquire into the various
Telephone Systems in operation in
Canada and Elsewhere

The Mulock Committee

General dissatisfaction with and animosity toward the Bell Telephone Company of Canada at the turn of the century grew to such proportions that parliament received petitions from hundreds of municipalities, counties, and individuals pleading for greater government control.  Led by William Douw Lighthall, the Union of Canadian Municipalities recommended that telephone systems be acquired by the government.  Facing growing public discontent, Prime Minister Sir Wilfrid Laurier in March 1905 established a select committee of the House of Commons, chaired by postmaster general Sir William Mulock, to investigate and report on the situation.

Source: Charles Fleetford Sise Sr. (1834-1918)
Dictionary of Canadian Biography Online

Appointed to inquire into the various
Telephone Systems in operation in
Canada and Elsewhere

The Report

Full text of "Appendix to the Fortieth Volume of the Journals of the House of Commons Dominion of Canada"
PART II.  REPORT of the Select Committee on Telephone Systems, Appendix A, containing letters addressed to the Chairman and other members of the Committee; also papers, statistics, &c., furnished by Foreign Governments and by various Telephone Companies in Canada and elsewhere, &c., &c.

Source: Full text of 'Appendix to the Fortieth Volume of the Journals of the House of Commons Dominion of Canada'
At the Internet Archive (the Wayback Machine)


Appointed to inquire into the various
Telephone Systems in operation in
Canada and Elsewhere

Minutes of Proceedings
No. 16
Committee Room No. 30
House of Commons

Tuesday, May 2, 1905

Nova Scotia Telephone Company


Mr. J.H. Winfield, Halifax, was called and sworn.

Questions by the Chairman:

Q.   Mr. Winfield, you are the manager of the Nova Scotia Telephone Company, I believe?

A.   Yes, sir.

Q.   Will you give us an account of the origin and development of that company?

A.   Well, about 18 years ago the telephone business was first started in the Maritime provinces.  I think it was started by the Bell Company — I have not any personal knowledge on the matter except what I have heard — and shortly after the Bell company started operations a local company was formed in opposition to them.

      After a short fight the Bell Company sold out to the local company, which was the Nova Scotia Telephone Company.  Some time after that, a local was formed in New Brunswick in opposition to the Nova Scotia Company and the latter sold out their holdings in New Brunswick to the New Brunswick Telephone Company, simply reserving serving the province of Nova Scotia for themselves.  Since that time the company has gone on developing and covering the country with a network of telephone lines, till I think today we have perhaps the best telephone province in the Dominion, or pretty nearly so.

      I noticed in Mr. Dagger's evidence before the committee the other day, that he stated there was only one telephone to every 122 of the population in Nova Scotia, whereas actually it is one to 74.  I think that compares very favorably with any other district.

Q.   Has there been any increase in the number of your subscribers within the last two years?

A.   They are increasing at the rate of about 300 a year.

Q.   Mr. Dagger gave an estimate for a period of some two years ago, whereas you are speaking of to-day?

A.   I am speaking of to-day, but two years ago it would have been about one telephone to 85 of the population.

Q.   One to 85, yes?

A.   That is a great difference.  There is a great difference between one telephone to 85 people and one telephone to 122 people.

Q.   Mr. Dagger says his figures were taken from the Dominion statistician's report.

A.   Well, there are about 25 to 30 companies in Nova Scotia and only one that I know of makes any report.

Q.   Is your company a joint stock company?

A.   Yes, sir.

Q.   Is it working under control of the Bell Telephone Company?

A.   No.

Q.   Is it independent of that company?

A.   Entirely.

Q.   What is your capital?  Have you got the financial statement with you?

A.   Yes.

Questions by Mr. Bergeron:

Q.   I understand you say there are about 30 companies in Nova Scotia?

A.   I am speaking roughly, I have a list here.

Q.   Will you produce it please?

A.   Yes, sir.

(Winfield's List, presented 2 May 1905)

Exhibit No. 68

                        Exhibit No. 68

      With Approximate Number of Telephones Operated by Each

      The Nova Scotia Telephone Company Ltd.  .......  3,511
      Eastern Telephone Company Ltd.  ...............    923
      Valley Telephone Company Ltd.  ................    700
      Queen's County Telephone Company Ltd.  ........    180
      Central Telephone Company Ltd.  ...............     25
      Yarmouth Amalgamated Telephone Company Ltd.  ..    235
      Westport and Digby Telephone Company Ltd.  ....     15
      Barrington Telephone Company  .................     20
      Yarmouth Telephone Company  ...................     12
      Maitland Telephone Company  ...................     15
      Cheverie Telephone Company Ltd.  ..............     15
      Maitland and Noel Telephone Company  ..........     10
      New Ross Telephone Company Ltd.  ..............      3
      Bass River Telephone Company  .................      5
      Elmsdale, Gore and Rawdon Telephone Company  ..     10
      Economy and Five Islands Telephone Company  ...      8
      Parrsboro Shore Telephone Company  ............    120
      Conns Mills Telephone Company  ................     12
      Wallace Bay Telephone Company  ................     18
      Fox Harbour Telephone Company..................     15
      Wentworth Telephone Company....................     10
      Hammonds Plains Telephone Company..............      3
      Antigonish and Sherbrooke Telephone Company Ltd.    60
      Cumberland Telephone Company....................   250
      Blandford Telephone Company.....................     6
Note: In Mr. Winfield's list of Nova Scotia telephone companies:
Barrington Telephone Company refers to the Barrington Township Telephone Company.
Bass River Telephone Company refers to the Union Furniture and Merchandise Company.
Cumberland Telephone Company refers to the New Cumberland Telephone Company.
New Ross Telephone Company refers to the New Ross Rural Telephone Company.
Maitland Telephone Company refers to the Maitland Telephone Company of Yarmouth Ltd.
Valley Telephone Company refers to the Valley Telegraph & Telephone Company.
Wallace Bay Telephone Company refers to the Wallace Bay Rural Telephone Company.
Wentworth Telephone Company refers to the Wentworth Valley Rural Telephone Company.
Note: There are two more telephone companies, in addition to those listed above,
which are believed to have been in operation in Nova Scotia in the spring of 1905:
West Gore and Nine Mile River Telephone Company, Elmsdale, Halifax County
Southern Telephone Company, Sydney

One telephone to every 74 inhabitants.

Q.   So the result of the operations of that year was to pay 6 per cent interest, to lay up $10,000, to increase your profit and loss account by about $2,500?

A.   Yes.

Q.   That is about right?

A.   Of course, that $10,000 depreciation must be actual depreciation on the plant.

Q.   Does it?  I see.  Well, can you tell us how many instruments there are in places like cities, towns, and villages, and how many are in what we call the rural district?

A.   Well, that is a very difficult question to answer.  I have a list of the different companies in the province, with the approximate number of telephones in each, and most of these companies are rural companies.  Our own company is not a rural company.

Q.   You do not cater to the rural business?

A.   Well, we have not any of it, we cannot get it.  We have tried to get the farmers in our own section of the country to take the telephone but they do not want to pay for them.

      I will give you an instance.  We built a line from Pictou to Durham, which is practically the most prosperous farming section in Pictou County, and we endeavoured to get the farmers to come in and take telephones at $20 a year.  The most we could get was three on this ten miles of line.  We offered to do it for $15 and we could not get any more.  After the thing had been running two or three years we made an inquiry and we found there would be half a dozen farmers in one place clubbing together at one dollar apiece, and they were all getting the benefit of the service.  That is the way they do down our way.  We were giving a telephone service to some 60 or 70 farmers for $60 a year.

Question by Mr. Burrows:

Q.   Well then, they do want the telephone right?

A.   They wanted it but they were not prepared to pay for it.  Of course, the greater part of our country is not a farming country, that is the section of the country we cover.

Question by the Chairman:

Q.   Still you have people living in rural districts who are engaged in farming?

A.   Well, we will go along our line 15 miles without seeing a house in some places.

Question by Mr. Burrows:

Q.   It is a bush country?

A.   Yes, lumbering and mining principally.

Questions by the Chairman:

Q.   What is the reason your company is not catering to rural telephone people?

A.   We are not catering because we have not got the business.  These other companies that we have encouraged to start and build in districts that are not covered by our lines are most of them rural companies.

Q.   You appear to have invested some of your capital in stock of the other companies?

A.   Yes.

Q.   What companies are those?

A.   Well most of them are rural companies that we have assisted to start by taking stock.  In some sections of a country that are not served by our lines, the people would come to us and say: "We want to get a telephone connection.  Will you build or will you give us connection if we build?"  We agree to do so.  If they build themselves they can do it cheaper and we give them a start and assist them.

Q.   You encourage rural lines?

A.   We go as far as to sell them supplies and all the instruments they will need for the construction of the lines, at cost, in order to encourage them.

Question by Mr. Maclean:

Q.   You take stock?

A.   And we sometimes take stock in them as part payment.  In some cases we do not get a dividend, but having the rural lines is an advantage in connection with our system.  It brings long-distance business at practically no cost to us.

Question by the Chairman:

Q.   They gather business for you, they are agents for you?

A.   If we have to build the line for 20 or 30 farmers in the country, it may be 15 miles out, and we have got to send out a man with a wagon to fix a little break which will cost about six dollars or more.  If a farmer owns a line and there is a break perhaps right outside his door, he will shin up the pole and fix it himself, and it does not cost him anything.  That is where the farmers can run a line a great deal cheaper than we can.  In the matter of poles, they are much better off.  They don't figure their time as anything, and they can get them out and erect them on the co-operative plan, whereas we have to import poles from Quebec, and it costs a great deal of money to take them down.

Question by Mr. Burrows:

Q.   What are your rates in the city of Halifax?

A.   Forty-five dollars for business telephones and thirty dollars for residents.

Question by the Chairman:

Q.   Here, Mr. Winfield, is a list that is furnished of the different telephone companies operating in —

A.   In Nova Scotia?

(Documents filed and marked Exhibit No. 68).

Question by Mr. Zimmerman:

Q.   Have you connection with all these companies?

A.   All of them directly or indirectly.  Some of them we have to go through one to get to another.

Questions by the Chairman:

Q.   Exhibit 68 is a list of the telephone companies operating in Nova Scotia?

A.   Yes.

Q.   Is this the complete list?

A.   As far as I know.  There may be some others that I do not know of out in the backwoods somewhere.

Question by Mr. Maclean:

Q.   How many of these roughly have you shares in?

A.   I think we have shares in about 7 or 8 of them.

Questions by the Chairman:

Q.   This list contains the names of 25 companies and these companies have 6,181 subscribers?  This is correct, is it?

A.   It is correct, as far as I know.  It is approximately correct; some of them may be out two or three.

Q.   But as far as you know, this is a complete list?

A.   Yes.

Q.   Of the companies operating in Nova Scotia?

A.   In Nova Scotia.

Q.   Some operate, I suppose, in rural districts?

A.   Well, I think there has been one omitted which I have just thought of, the Westport & Digby.  Oh yes, I have it here.

Q.   Are these operating in cities, towns and villages?

A.   Some of them, yes.

Q.   They are to some extent in rural districts?

A.   Yes.

Q.   To what extent in rural districts?

A.   I can show you a map.  (Produces a map.) That will give you a better idea.  This is Halifax, (pointing to map).

Q.   Yes.

A.   And this represents our line to Truro, New Glasgow, Pictou and to the Strait of Canso.  We come down here to Bridgewater and from here to Windsor, up this way to Amherst.  Now, there is a rural company goes right along this shore right around through to Amherst with cross-connection lines all through.  There is another one scattered round in this section in Cumberland county.  There are three private lines centering at Pugwash, two or three at Wallace and quite a large company started up last year in Guysboro' county which connects with us at Antigonish.

Q.   Just go over to the map and explain to the committee the ramification of the telephone system of Nova Scotia?

A.   This is Halifax.  These lines practically represent our own, we have some of the other company's in but not all.  Our lines go from Halifax through to Truro and thence to New Glasgow and the Strait of Canso, where we connect with the Eastern Telephone Company of Cape Breton, another branch going through to Amherst where we connect with the New Brunswick Telephone Company.

      We have another line along the shore from Amherst to Pictou, another line from Halifax to Windsor, another from Halifax to Bridgewater.  At Bridgewater or a few miles out of Bridgewater we connect with the Queen's County Telephone Company, which operates all through Queen's County and serves several towns, Liverpool, Shelburne and some other places.  They also connect with two or three other companies.  Finally we get to Yarmouth.

      Then there is the Central Telephone Company from Bridgewater to Middleton.  This is a rural line to Middleton.  Then there is another telephone line which operates from Windsor half way to Truro.  There is another company whose name I  forget which goes from Truro to meet this Cheverie line.  There is another one from Elmsdale to West Gore, another from Stewiacke down to Ship's Harbour, and another one form Brookfield to upper Stewiacke.

      All these people connect with us.  Then there is still another one from Parrsboro' covering a great section of Cumberland county coming into here and going to Amherst.  The Cumberland Telephone Company has a great many lines all through the county of Cumberland.  There are also four or five lines, about 15 to 20 miles long, connecting at Pugwash and Wallace.  There is another company formed a year ago at Antigonish and I suppose they have somewhere around 150 miles of line now.  We were instrumental in getting them started.

Q.   Do you know what is the cost to the farmers to get rural telephones?

A.   Well, in most cases, these lines have been built by the co-operation of the farmers themselves.  They go to work to build the line.  They come to us and ask us if they build a line whether we will give them connection right away and we agree to do so on the usual conditions and to supply them with all the material they want at the lowest possible price.  We buy very large quantities and can therefore afford to sell to them cheaper than they could buy anywhere else.  We also give them the benefit of our expert advice as to the proper way of building a line and sometimes lend them our men at simply the cost of their time.  We get them to put up as good a line as possible and they usually do it on shares.

Q.   Do you find a growing demand in the rural district for telephones?

A.   That is growing all the times.  These companies are starting all the time.

Q.   There is an active development in the telephone system throughout Nova Scotia?

A.   Yes.  Of course, we could not touch this business in a great many cases at the rates the farmers are able to do it for themselves.  In fact, as I said, they will erect and maintain them very much cheaper than we can.

Question by Mr. Zimmerman:

Q.   Do you get any long-distance business from these companies?

A.   Well, we do not get very much.  We get a little of course.  It is an advantage to have connection with these rural lines.  Supporting it is a place like Antigonish, where we have 50 or 60 subscribers.  Well, the doctors at Antigonish, if they can phone to their patients in the country it is a convenience to them.  It gives a certain value to our exchange and we get a certain long-distance business from them.

Questions by Mr. Lewis:

Q.   You said you were willing to connect with the rural companies on the usual conditions?

A.   Yes.

Q.   What are those conditions?

A.   We make a formal agreement that they shall accept business from us and we will take business from them; that they will not overlap the territory occupied by us, and we will do the same by them; they will not extend their lines without our permission.  This is necessary because many companies are starting, and we agree to protect them from competition in their own territory.  We have got to get them to define their territory, otherwise some other company will start up and go to us for connection and we will find they are infringing on the other man's ground.

      I have a case in mind just now.  The Antigonish and Sherbrooke Company built a line and we made our usual arrangements for connections with them.  That was all right.  But another company said they wanted to build another line from Blue Mountain, New Glasgow, and came to us for connection.  We said: "Of course we will give you connection."  But when they started the other company complained that the line was going to be built through their territory, where they had a line already.  Then we had to get after the Blue Mountain Company.  You see we act as a sort of clearing house for the whole of these companies.  We undertake to connect with these companies and to protect them, and in the same way they protect us in any territory that is ours.  We also specify that they shall use a standard make of instruments in order that the service will be satisfactory.

Q.   Just one other question.  What are the rates you have in connection with these other companies?

A.   Well, it varies according to circumstances.  In some cases where connection is made with the exchange we charge them five cents every time they go into the exchange.  That is not a paying price at all, it is more of a losing matter, but we do not want to be hard on the farmers, but rather to help them along.  In the case of the long-distance business they simply pay our usual rates the same as anybody else.  In some cases we have commuted the five-cent business to a rental of so much a year for the telephone.  Five or six dollars a year for the telephone will give them the free use of the exchange; everything depends upon the particular local conditions.  We always endeavour to meet them and to go get some arrangements that would be mutually satisfactory.  We have never had any difficulty with them at all.

Q.   Are you the largest company in Nova Scotia?

A.   We are the largest.

Q.   And the Bell Company is not there?

A.   No, sir.

Questions by Mr. Maclean:

Q.   You have 3,260 phones?

A.   Yes.

Q.   How many of these are in Halifax, roughly?

A.   There will be 1,950 in Halifax today.

Q.   That is more than half in Halifax.  What other towns have you local exchanges in?

A.   Amherst, Antigonish, Bridgewater, Lunenburg, Mahone Bay, New Glasgow, Oxford, Pictou, Pugwash, Shubenacadie, Truro, Windsor, Wallace, and Springhill, and other towns.  There are a few smaller places where there are only half a dozen telephones which we would hardly call a local exchange.

Q.   Besides these you have a number of pay stations, have you?

A.   Toll offices on the long-distance line.

Q.   Quite a number?

A.   I suppose we would have 200, but I am guessing at that.

Q.   Yes, roughly?  That is what I want to get at.  You have nearly 1,000 phones in Halifax, 20 or so towns where you have a general telephone business like the Bell Company has in towns, and you have nearly 200 pay stations?

A.   I think possibly it is nearly 200.

Q.   And the general policy of your company then is to do this town and city business to get more long-distance service connecting with any local line that desires to connect with you?

A.   Yes, our policy —

Q.   Your policy is to encourage a local line business?

A.   Our policy has been to get most of the long distance lines built in as perfect a condition as possible and let the farmers build their own lines because they build them cheaper than we can.  In districts where there is not sufficient money to build a first-class line such as we would build ourselves, we encourage other people to do it.

Q.   Your rate in Halifax is $45 for business, what is it for residences?

A.   Thirty dollars.

Q.   And what is it say in a town of 5,000 habitants?

A.   Well it depends upon the service given.  In Halifax, of course, we have a central energy system and metallic circuits.  In the town of Amherst we have 212 telephones and we charge $25 for business phones and $20 for residence phones.

Q.   Taking a lower grade still then — have you any lower than that?

A.   Oh, yes, we have Bridgewater.  We have 101 telephones, where we charge $20 for business and $15 for residence.

Q.   Go on down the list.

A.   We have Mahone Bay, where we have 18 telephones and charge $15 all around.  All the places under 30 subscribers we have a flat rate of $15.  It is the lowest rate, and the people claim that the service, we being small, is not worth more than that.  In every one of these small towns we lose money.

Q.   Roughly speaking, what proportion of your business is toll and long-distance business?

A.   The revenue?

Q.   The revenue, yes?

A.   It is as 90 is to 35.

Q.   It is better than one-third?

A.   Yes, the long distance is 35.

Q.   And you say you connect with the New Brunswick Telephone Company and the Eastern Telephone Company?

A.   Yes.

Q.   And it brings business to you?

A.   Undoubtedly.

Q.   There is business in it?

A.   There is no business in the connection with the Eastern Telephone Company, but we hope there will be.

Q.   Your policy is to connect with all companies so as to increase your business?

A.   Precisely, unless that company is in opposition to us — if they respect our territory.

Q.   Tell us about the railway stations.  Have you your lines in the railway stations?

A.   Most of them.

Q.   Have you ever sought to get the exclusive contract with the railways?

A.   No.

Q.   So as to keep out any other line?

A.   No, we have great difficulty in getting into railways sometimes.

Q.   On what ground?

A.   The agents don't want to be bothered with it.

Q.   Government employees don't want to serve the people?

A.   We have in several cases known agents to make objection.  In some places we put the telephones in free of charge and in other places the railways pay for them for their own business.

Q.   Your policy is then to do business with all companies?

A.   Yes.

Q.   You are anxious to get into the railway stations and are not preventing any others?

A.   Exactly.

Q.   And are you ready to do an interchange of business?

A.   From any one outside.  Of course we would not interchange with a company that started up in our own territory.

Question by Mr. Burrows:

Q.   There is no other company in opposition to you?

A.   There is one in opposition.  We do not connect with them.

Questions by Mr. Maclean:

Q.   When you bought out Bell, how much did you give that company, is that a fair question?

A.   I cannot say.  It is previous to my knowledge.

Q.   Did you give them stock?

A.   Yes.

Q.   How much?

A.   I do not know what they got at that time.  I could tell you what they have now.

Q.   What have they now?

A.   $66,450.  That is about 14 percent of the total capital.

Q.   When you increase it, what proportion of it goes to the Bell?

A.   If we make an issue of stock at par to the stockholders, they usually take their pro rate share.

Q.   By paying for it?

A.   Yes.

Q.   Not by surrendering anything?

A.   I guess not.

Q.   How much of these 6,000 shares have they acquired since your company took over their business?

A.   I do not know how much stock they got originally.  I am not familiar with the history of the company as far back as that.  I think they possibly got 2,000 or 3,000 shares, originally.  I am only guessing at it.

Q.   Since then they have paid the par value the same value as other shareholders?

A.   Yes exactly.

Q.   Still, you are in alliance with the Bell in a way?  What is that Bell Company called which owns part of your stock?

A.   The Bell Telephone Company of Canada.

Q.   I am glad you pointed that out because I thought it was the original company in the United States.

A.   No.

Q.   It is the Bell Telephone Company of Canada that has these 6,000 shares in your company?

A.   Exactly.

Q.   Well now, you are satisfied, on the whole, there is a good outlook for your company?

A.   I think so.

Q.   In the way it is doing business, with its policy of interchange of business and of encouraging local companies to do local business and to connect up with you.

A.   That has been my policy since I have had charge of the management and the company is in a progressive state.  We are not making very much money, but we hope to be able to live.

Questions by Mr. Zimmerman:

Q.   Have you long-distance connections outside of the two that you have mentioned?

A.   All these companies in Nova Scotia, we have connection through their lines.

Q.   Have you connection with this part of Canada?

A.   No.

Q.   Wouldn't it be a great benefit to you?

A.   I do not think so.  I do not think there would be any business.  The rate would be too high to get business.  We have connection with Boston, for instance, but we do not have one message in three months.  There is no demand for it.  The rate is $3 or $4 and the people down there are not educated up to paying long-distance rates.

Q.   So you don't think it would be any benefit to your company to have connection with this part of Canada?

A.   I do not think so.  I think New Brunswick is about as far as our local interests go.

Questions by Mr. Maclean:

Q.   Has the Bell Company a director on your board?

A.   Yes.

Q.   How many?

A.   Two.

Q.   How many directors have you?

A.   Seven or nine.  The Bell Company's directors hardly ever appear.  They are simply nominal.

Questions by Mr. Burrows:

A.   You say you make arrangements with these companies that connect with you by which you protect them against any company coming into the same territory?

A.   Exactly.

Q.   Do you confine them to the price, do you say that they cannot charge more than a certain figure?

A.   We let them charge any rate they choose.

Q.   You protect them in a monopoly?

A.   It is to their interest not to charge an unreasonable rate.

Q.   Nobody else can come in?

A.   Anybody could get in.  As a matter of fact it is really a mutual concern in a great many cases.  The people who build the lines are majority of the residents of the district and they charge outsiders for the use of the line such as commercial travellers — they charge them perhaps 20 cents.

Q.   What do you figure on the cost of building a mile of line, an ordinary line in the country?

A.   It depends on the character of the place and the kind of line.

Q.   An ordinary line, a farmer's line?

A.   Poles of spruce or cedar.

Q.   Cedar?

A.   That would again depend on the location.  Our country is very rocky in some parts.  In some parts we have to pay $2 or $3 in railway freights if it is anywhere out of the radius of the Intercolonial.  We can get the Intercolonial to bring a carload of poles for $40 or $45, while over the Dominion Atlantic Railway, or the South Shore Railway it might cost $90.

      We are very subject to severe storms, such as sleet storms, and we have, therefore, to build exceptionally strong lines in that country.  I would say that a mile of farmer's line would cost approximately $150 to $200, depending entirely on the location where it is built.  The poles would cost $1.25 each, and the freight would be from 80 cents to $1.50 per pole.

Q.   What standard pole do you have?

A.   25 foot (7.6 m) pole.

Q.   What size at the top?

A.   7 inches (18 cm).

Q.   That is a splendid pole?

A.   Of course, if it is a line only to carry two wires, we would not need so large a pole, but our experience is that it pays to build right to start with.

Question by Mr. Maclean:

Q.   Some of these lines built by the farmers themselves cost less than $50 a mile?

A.   Yes, they do not figure on the cost of the poles.  They cut them from their own farms.

Questions by Mr. Boyce:

Q.   You make connection with independent rural lines?

A.   What do you mean by independent?

Q.   Independent of your company?

A.   Yes.

Q.   What condition do you require before connecting with these companies, and do you stipulate as to the manner in which it is maintained before you give a connection with that line?

A.   In some cases it is incorporated in the agreement In other cases there is a distinct understanding that the line has to be built properly and maintained efficiently.

Q.   If the company or association of farmers have built a line in the rural districts and apply to you for connection, what provisions have you to make with regard to connection in order to satisfy yourselves that it is such a system as you can give connection to?

A.   We usually go over it, and see what it is like.

Q.   On what do you have to be satisfied?

A.   We want to see that they have an efficient instrument.  You see, if a farmer's line of poor character is connected with our system, and a man on our system find it impossible to talk over that, he blames us.

Q.   These are the points.  What are the essential points which you consider before you make connection with a system?

A.   It is necessary that the instruments shall be of the same standard as we use ourselves.

Q.   Standard?

A.   Standard with regard to the instrument, method of operating and everything else.

Q.   Any provisions with reference to the wires?

A.   We have never had occasion to deal with a company that has already been in existence.  We have always been able to supply them with their supplies ourselves.  We give them to them at cost in order to see that they put in the right kind of stock.

Q.   You have had no experience with an independent line applying for connection?

A.   Except one or two.  They had already bought their materials from us.

Q.   Would the wiring of a rural system be a matter of importance?

A.   Oh, no, as long as it is properly done.

Q.   I mean any wires?

A.   If they use a poor quality of iron wire they would not get as good service as if they used as good quality.

Q.   And the question would be of the efficiency of the instruments themselves?

A.   The efficiency of the instruments and the way in which the line is kept up.  Some will let wires go down, and leave them there two or three days unless you force them to do something.

Q.   What are your arrangements with regard to maintaining switches?

A.   We usually do the switching.  It depends upon the locality.

Q.   It is a matter of agreement?

A.   It is a matter of mutual agreement.

Questions by Mr. Miller:

Q.   Just one statement that did not seem to agree.  That is where you state that in small towns where you had a service of less than 30 subscribers you find business to be unprofitable at $15 a year.  You find that to be a fact?

A.   Yes.  I will give you an instance.  Take the case of Shubenacadie, where we have 16 telephones.  We charge $15 a year.  Our average rental is $12.37.  That comes out by the fact that some of these telephones are only in for part of the year.  Our average expense was $18.93, so that there is a distinct loss of over $6 per telephone.

Q.   In a town of that size, how do you pay your agents?  By commission or salary?

A.   By salary.  They would not take it on commission, because there would not be anything in it.  We could operate in that town 50 telephones for practically the same money.  That is why it does not pay.

Q.   If it was possible to pay by commission rather than salary it might be made profitable?

A.   It could hardly be made profitable because it is practically 20 miles away from any place where we keep a man, and we would have to send a man there in case there was anything wrong.  There would be a great expense in sending a man there two or three times a month to fix things up.  In a farmer's line, if the telephone is out of order for two or three days they will fix it up themselves, but if we were running it, they would demand a better service and we would have to do it the right way.

[text missing here]

Questions by Mr. Boyce:

Q.   How often have you had to renew your system?  I understand it was built 18 years ago?

A.   It has been renewed about four times in the last 18 years.

Q.   That is, renewed thoroughly?

A.   Yes.  We started first of all with the Law system.  That was thrown out.  We put in the Gilleland system.  That was superceded by the Standard, and today we have the Central Energy, but they say that will be superceded by the Automatic.

Q.   You have to allow a considerable amount of depreciation?

A.   Yes, it is very high.

Q.   Have you any figures which will show the cost of these alterations and renewals?

A.   We figure about ten percent per annum.

Q.   Depreciation?

A.   Yes, we always that out to cover it.

Q.   After an existence of how many years?

A.   Seventeen or eighteen years.

Questions by Mr. Maclean:

Q.   Have you any trouble collecting the balance from the local companies?

A.   No, we collect from the head office of each company.

Q.   You get the money?

A.   As a matter of fact there is very little money exchanged, we owe them a balance, and they owe us a balance.

Q.   Here is a question which you may not care to answer.  How many deadhead telephones has your company?

A.   I cannot tell you that.

Q.   Have you a thousand?

A.   No.

Q.   Have you 500?

A.   No.

Q.   Have you 100?

A.   We have not 50.  We have a number put in employees' houses and sometimes we give charitable institutions such as the Y.M.C. or hospitals free telephones.

Q.   Have you a deadhead list?

A.   No.

Questions by Mr. Roche:

Q.   What instruments did you say you used?

A.   Mostly those manufactured by the Northern Electric Company.

Q.   In Canada?

A.   Yes, some of them are American.

Q.   What do they cost?

A.   Anything from $7.50 to $25, according to the type.  There are a great many different types of telephones.

Q.   Have you a uniform instrument that you insist upon independent companies using?

A.   It depends entirely on their line.  If they are going to have five telephones they can use cheaper phones than the line which has 15 telephones.

Q.   But of similar manufacture?

A.   Similar manufacture or similar style.  Of course an instrument on a line where it will have to ring 15 or 20 telephones, will cost more than where there are five.  It takes a more powerful bell.

Q.   The other material?

A.   The wire, and transmitter will be the same.

Q.   Are they manufactured in Canada?

A.   Mostly.

Q.   Have the Bell Company any stock in the connecting lines that you have mentioned?

A.   No, unless the New Brunswick Telephone Company.

Q.   In the Nova Scotia companies?

A.   No, in none of these.

Questions by Mr. Johnson:

Q.   Have you any arrangement with the Dominion Atlantic Railway?  Do they use your telephone?

A.   The Dominion Atlantic is not our territory.

Q.   At Windsor?

A.   They have one of our telephones at Windsor.  They have one in their freight shed and ticket office at Halifax.

Q.   And one at Windsor Junction?

A.   No.

Q.   Have they ever made application to you for installation of one of your telephones between Windsor or Windsor Junction?

A.   There have been applications — about a week ago there was an application for a man living in Windsor Junction.

Q.   Have you made any efforts to furnish them?

A.   No, of course our lines don't go near Windsor Junction.

Q.   Do you run your line along the Intercolonial?

A.   No, along the post roads.

Q.   At what points on the Intercolonial do you touch?

A.   Do you mean where we go?

Q.   Do you give a telephone service along the Intercolonial?

A.   Practically all the way which is in our territory from Amherst to Halifax and Mulgrave.

Q.   Do you furnish the Intercolonial with free telephones?

A.   In some cases, in small towns where the railway has no business of their own for a telephone we give it, but in the larger towns where they require a telephone for their own business they usually pay for it.  In some cases they have a half dozen.  In Halifax they have a large number.

Q.   In a number of cases employees of the Intercolonial object to the installation of the telephone?

A.   In some cases.

Q.   For what reason?

A.   They claim they have more work than they can do without answering a telephone.

Q.   Would you feel like giving the committee any particular instance?

A.   I would not care to do that.  One particular case I had in mind, the agent has been removed to some other place and the new agent has not made the same objection towards placing a telephone there, but they do not give it the attention that they might.  But I would rather not cite an instance.

Q.   Have you brought it to the attention of the Intercolonial that some of their employees objected to the installation of a telephone?

A.   It has been, yes.

Q.   How long since?

A.   It is possibly a year or a year and a half.

Q.   You have not brought it to the attention of the General Manager, Mr. Pottinger?

A.   No, in one case we had great difficulty in getting permission from the railway to put a telephone in at all.  That is at Maccan.  There is a coal company there, I forgot the name of it.  David Mitchell is the manager.  He got a telephone from us and he said that we should have a telephone in the railway station.  His mine is some three miles away, and he found it necessary for business reasons to be connected with the railway.  We applied to the railway for permission and it was refused, and it was several months before Mr. Mitchell himself was finally able to work the oracle and we could get one in.

Q.   How long ago?

A.   About a year ago.

Q.   Were they assigning any reason for refusing to let you install a telephone?

A.   No, Mr. Scott, wrote me, that he could not allow the telephone to be placed.

Q.   Who is Mr. Scott, the electrician?

A.   Yes, we have to make application to him.  He submitted the matter, I presume, to his superiors.

Q.   Were you offering a free telephone?

A.   Yes.

Q.   That is extraordinary?  You have not gone to anybody about it?

A.   Of course, that telephone is now in.  We went to Mr. Scott and he told me it was not any use pressing the matter and we then dropped it.

Q.   You have not at any time consulted the general manager of the Intercolonial as to his policy on the question of telephones?

A.   No, there have been only two or three places where we had any difficulty and the influence of the local residents had sufficient power.

Q.   Is the Halifax and Southwestern in your district?

A.   Yes, as far as Bridgewater.

Q.   Using your telephone?

A.   Yes.

Q.   On the same basis as the Intercolonial?

A.   Yes, paying for them.

Q.   How do you do your regular rates?  Has your company a free hand as to the rates you shall charge?

A.   No, the rates are under control of the government.

Q.   To what extent does the government control the rates —

Question by the Chairman:

Q.   What government is that?

A.   The local government of Nova Scotia.  They passed an Act some two years ago in which every company was compelled to file a copy of its rates for the approval of the Governor in Council, and we are not permitted to make any changes without their consent.  These rates have been submitted and approved.

(Schedule produced and filed as Exhibit No. 69.)

Exhibit No. 69


Sir. — I am directed to inform you that the schedule of tolls, &c., of the Nova Scotia Telephone Company, Ltd., filed in this office in the 14th inst., has been approved by the Governor in Council.  I enclose herewith copy of the schedule with certificate of approval thereon.
I am
Your obedient servant.
Manager, N.S. Tel. Co.,      Secretary
Halifax, N.S.

Frederick Francis Mathers (1871-1947) Wikipedia

HEAD OFFICE, HALIFAX, N.S., April 11, 1903

To His Honor
The Lieutenant Governor in Council.

In accordance with the provisions of Bill No. 258, entitled: "An Act relating to Telephone Tolls," we beg to submit for your approval the following schedule of tolls, rate, and charges for telephone services, as furnished by this company.

All the above rates are for instruments located within one mile of the exchange, subscribers beyond the one mile line radius to pay an extra annual rental of $10 per mile for grounded circuits and $18 per mile for metallic circuits.

Long-distance instruments when required in place of Blake instruments, to be $5 per annum additional.

Long-distance Service.

The rates for long-distance messages shall be 40 cents per 100 miles, with a minimum charge of 25 cents for five minutes conversation, and shall be arranged in 5-cent increases as per the following table:—
     Up to  50 miles  ..........  25 cents     [ up to  80 km]
     51 to  66 miles  ..........  30 cents     [ 81 to 106 km]
     67 to  83 miles  ..........  35 cents     [107 to 134 km]
     84 to 100 miles  ..........  40 cents     [135 to 161 km]
    101 to 112 miles  ..........  45 cents     [162 to 180 km]
    113 to 125 miles  ..........  50 cents     [181 to 201 km]
    126 to 138 miles  ..........  55 cents     [202 to 222 km]
    139 to 150 miles  ..........  60 cents     [223 to 241 km]
    151 to 162 miles  ..........  65 cents     [242 to 261 km]
    163 to 175 miles  ..........  70 cents     [262 to 282 km]
    176 to 188 miles  ..........  75 cents     [283 to 302 km]
    189 to 200 miles  ..........  80 cents     [303 to 322 km]
It is understood that the distance shall be calculated on the length of the telephone line between any two points and not by an air-line.

In cases of special difficulty and expense of construction such as submarine cables, &c., then the company shall be entitled to a proportionately extra charge for messages over that part of the line.

All of which is respectfully submitted.

(Signed) B.M. Chipman, President

The foregoing schedule was approved by the Governor in Council on April 14, A.D. 1903.
(Signed) F.F. MATHERS, Clerk of the Executive Council.

Frederick Francis Mathers (1871-1947) Wikipedia

By Mr. Johnston:

Q.   That is two years ago?

A.   Yes.

Q.   This is a statement of your rates, submitted to the Governor in Council?

A.   Yes.

Q.   Have these been approved?

A.   Yes.

Q.   Has any objection been taken by any community in which you operate to the schedule of tolls which the Governor in Council has approved?

A.   No.

Q.   It has been regarded as satisfactory?

A.   Satisfactory.

By Mr. Maclean:

Q.   Is there an appeal from time to time?

A.   The government has power if at any time any person thinks the rates are unsatisfactory and makes a protest to call a public hearing.  If we want to raise the rates they also call a public hearing to discuss the matter.

By Mr. Johnston

Q.   These rates are subject to revision from time to time?

A.   So we understand it.

Q.   Any community quarrelling with the rates you charge has the right of appeal to the Governor of Council?

A.   Yes.

Q.   That applies to all the companies?

A.   Yes, every company in Nova Scotia.  These rates were originally submitted and in one case we applied for an increase of rates and got it, the case of New Glasgow where we installed a common battery and relay system.  We asked for an increase of five dollars and had a public hearing.  The Board of Trade and all the merchants of the town were down, and after the thing had been explained they were satisfied to pay it, and the government granted the increase.

Q.   Do you mean to say that the people of New Glasgow agreed to it?

A.   Yes, and after the new system was installed the people expressed themselves as quite satisfied with the rates.

By the Chairman:

Q.   You were asked to bring some papers here.  Have you brought them?

A.   Yes.

Q.   What have you brought?  I do not know what part they play in this inquiry, but if we get them we will have them read and if necessary we will publish them on the records.

A.   These are copies of agreements with other telephone companies with which we connect (documents produced).  We have some agreements which have practically lapsed, become obsolete and never renewed, but the thing is running on under a verbal agreement.  I have not brought them.  Then there is a schedule of the rates and charges.

Q.   This we have here.

A.   Then the financial statement.

Q.   This financial statement which you have given us is the statement for the year ending 1903.

A.   For the year ending 31th January, 1904.  The statement has not been audited yet.

Q.   That shows assets and liabilities to the 31st, 1904.  That must be for the financial year?

A.   For the financial year ending 31st January, 1904.  Here is the statement for the previous year, and for the year 1904.  (Documents filed and marked Exhibits No. 70 and 71, as follows):

Exhibit No. 70




Exchanges and plant......................................... $360,859.27

Stores................................................................... 22,971.31

Stock in other companies................................ 97,530.00

Real estate, buildings, &c................................ 16,353.73

Amounts due company.................................... 5,577.35

Due by agencies, including Halifax.............. 8,521.40

Cash in hand and bank................................... 25,647.40

_________ $537,487.47


Capital stock......................................................... $417,467.00

Bills payable......................................................... 354.15

Sundry amounts due.......................................... 24,614.98

Dividend No. 33 payable February 2, 1903... 6,262.01

Insurance reserve............................................... 12,400.00

Unearned rental reserve................................... 10,000.00

Accident reserve................................................. 10,000.00

Contingent and depreciation........................... 49,090.76

Profit and loss..................................................... 7,298.57

__________ $537,487.47

Audited and found correct.



February 1. -- By balance........................................ $26,763.10


January 31. -- By net earnings.............................. 31,844.06

__________ $58,607.16


January 31. -- To dividend No 30, paid June 1, 1902................ $4,500.00

To dividend No 31 paid September 1, 1902.................... 4,500.00

To dividend No 32. paid November 1, 1902................... 5,681.23

To dividend No 33, payable February 2, 1903...... 6,262.01

To contingent and depreciation.................... 17,695.35

To unearned rental reserve...... 12,400.00

_________ $51,308.59



January 31. -- By balance carried forward................................$ 7,298.57

No. 16 — MAY 2, 1905.


Exhibit No. 71


The directors have much pleasure in submitting herewith their Seventeenth Annual Report together with the regular audited financial statement for the year ending January 31 last (1904).

The year has been one of large growth, with a corresponding satisfactory increase in revenue.

Two hundred and ninety-one new subscribers have been added during the year, making the total number of instruments in use 3,260.

Five hundred and one miles of wire and 46 miles of poles have been added to the long-distance system.

The long-distance lines now owned and operated by this company comprise 2,216 miles of wire on 700 miles of poles.

In addition to this, 90 miles of poles have been rebuilt and strengthened to carry additional wires, and 34 miles of spruce pole line have been replaced by cedar poles.

It was deemed advisable to extend the underground system in Halifax by adding 4,321 feet of conduit, comprising 31,643 feet of duct; 9,187 feet of cable were pulled in containing 561 miles of wire.

All of which is respectfully submitted.




June 16, 1904.




Exchanges and plant $410,927.31

Stores $20,142.86

Stock in other companies $122,530.00

Real estate, buildings, &c. $19,184.40

Amounts due company $9,106.63

Due by agencies, including Halifax $11,739.50



Capital stock $447,650.00

Bills payable $13,370.79

Sundry amounts due $6,321.14

Dividend No. 37, payable Feb. 1, 1904 $6,714.75

Unearned rental reserve1 $6,400.00

Insurance reserve $10,000.00

Accident reserve $10,000.00

Contingent and depreciation $73,448.95

Profit and loss $9,725.07







Feb. 1, 1903, by balance brought forward $7,298.57

Jan. 31, 1904, by net earnings $38,578.28



May 1, 1903, to dividend No. 34 $6,262.01

Aug. 1, 1903, to dividend No. 35 $6,537.80

Nov. 1, 1903, to dividend No. 36 $6,637.22

Jan. 31, 104, to dividend No. 37 payable

Feb. 1, 1904 $6,714.75

Jan. 31, 1904, to transferred to contingent

and depreciation $10,000.00


By balance carried forward $9,725.07

Here is a memorandum of the long-distance lines:—


Exhibit No. 72

Memorandum of Long-Distance Lines
of the Nova Scotia Telephone Company Limited

The long-distance lines of this company comprise 704 miles of poles, 2,450 miles of wire (the average cost per mile of wire is $72).

The expense per mile of wire last year was $12.83

The revenue per mile of wire last year was $12.62

The long-distance rates are on a mileage basis of 40 cents per 100 miles, with special low night rates.

As over 90 per cent of the long-distance lines are metallic these figures will require to be doubled in order to arrive at the cost, etc., per 'circuit mile' as below.

Estimated expense per circuit mile $25.66

Revenue per circuit mile $25.24

Loss per circuit mile $0.42

Exhibit No. 73

Then there is a map showing our long-distance lines and connections.

Map filed and marked Exhibit No. 73.

Exhibit No. 74

By Mr. Maclean:

Q.   Have you a list of the shareholders of the company?

A.   Yes, sir.

List filed and marked Exhibit No. 74.

I have also copies of agreements with other telephone companies with which we connect.

The CHAIRMAN. — These agreements might be filed and a summary thereof made and marked as Exhibit No. 75.


Exhibit No. 75

Summary of agreements entered into by the Nova Scotia Telephone Company, Limited, with a number of telephone companies operating throughout Nova Scotia, embodying the details of a working agreements for the exchange of telephone connections.

Contract Number One

No. 1.   Agreement between the Hammonds Plains Telephone company and the Nova Scotia Telephone Company, dated May 23, 1902, for a term of three years.

The companies agree to receive, transmit and deliver the messages of the subscribers of their respective companies.  The charge to and from Halifax being ten (10) cents and beyond Halifax the tariff of the Nova Scotia Telephone Company in addition thereto.

Neither parties are to compete with each other within the territory now occupied by them respectively nor shall they make connections with any telephone company or corporation operating in competition with the Nova Scotia Telephone Company or the Hammonds Plains Company.  The Nova Scotia Company to have the first option of purchase of the Hammonds Plains Company.  The Hammonds Plains Company shall not purchase or use any instruments or apparatus but the standard 'Bell' these to be purchased from the Nova Scotia Company.

Contract Number Two

No. 2.   Between the Union Furniture and Merchandise Company of Bass River, N.S., and the Nova Scotia Telephone Company, dated June 1, 1902, for a term of three years.

The companies agree to receive, transmit and deliver the messages of the subscribers of their respective lines.  The charge to and from the Union Furniture and Merchandise company's lines shall be ten cents, except to Great Village which shall be fifteen cents and beyond Truro the tariff rates of the Nova Scotia Telephone Company in addition thereto.  The Nova Scotia Company to pay the Union Furniture and Merchandise Company Fifteen dollars ($15) per annum for the free use of their lines for the Nova Scotia Company's subscribers at Great village exchange, non-subscribers at that exchange to pay fifteen cents per conversation to be handed over to the Union Furniture Company.  The Union Furniture Company shall pay the Nova Scotia Telephone Company $15 per annum for connection to switch-board and switching at Great Village.  The Union Furniture Company shall remove all instruments in the Nova Scotia company's territory and shall not place any others without the...

[text missing here]

Contract Number Four

No. 4.   Between the District Five Telephone Company and the Nova Scotia Telephone Company, dated March 22, 1905, terminable on one year's notice.  The District Company shall purchase the telephone plant now owned by the Nova Scotia Company, carried on District Company's poles, twelve miles, in all, and pay therefore one hundred and forty-five dollars ($145), the Nova Scotia Telephone Company to apply and maintain either Byng or Blake bridging and telephones at a rental of $15 per annum to members of the District Company, the latter company to provide and maintain the lines.  Long-distance transmitters charged $5 per annum additional.

Nova Scotia Company shall hand over to the District Company (less the agent's omission of 20 per cent) fifteen cents per conversation from parties in the River Herbert exchange.  The Nova Scotia Company's subscribers to have the option to pay the District Company a flat rental of five dollars for residence and seven dollars and fifty cents for business instruments, (less the agents commission of 20 per cent) in lieu of the aforesaid tolls.  The District Company to charge ten cents on all long-distance messages over their lines to non-subscribers, to be collected by the Nova Scotia Company's agents for 20 per cent commission.  The District Company shall not extend their line beyond Polling District Number Five or connect with any other line or company without the consent of the Nova Scotia Company.

Contract Number Five

No. 5.   Between the New Ross Telephone Company and the Nova Scotia Telephone Company, dated December 1, 1904, for a term of three years.

The companies agree to receive, transmit and deliver the messages of the subscribers of their respective companies.

The charge between the New Ross Company's lines and Chester Basin shall be 10 cents, to go to the New Ross Company.  Between the New Ross Company and the Chester Basin Exchange (excepting Chester town, 25 cents), 20 cents, 5 cents of which goes to the Nova Scotia Company.  Between the New Ross Company and any other point, 15 cents, plus the Nova Scotia company's rates from Chester Basin, of which the New Ross Company takes 15 cents.  The New Ross Company to pay the Nova Scotia Company five dollars $(5.00) per annum for each instrument connected with their line.

Neither parties are to compete with each other within the territory now occupied by them respectively nor shall they make connections with any telephone company or corporation operating in competition with the Nova Scotia Telephone Company or the New Ross Company.  The Nova Scotia Company to have the first option of purchase of the New Ross Company.  The New Ross Company shall not purchase or use any instruments or apparatus but the standard 'Bell', these to be purchased from the Nova Scotia Company.

Contract Number Six

No. 6.   Between the Valley Telephone company and the Nova Scotia Telephone Company, dated September 21st, 1902, for a term of three years.

The companies agreed to receive, transmit and deliver the message of the subscribers of their respective companies.

The Nova Scotia Company to charge the same rates as to its Windsor subscribers less 5 cents, making the rate from Hantsport to Windsor 10 cents, Hantsport to Halifax, 20 cents.  The Valley Company to charge to and from Berwick and points east therefore, 15 cents; points west thereof, 20 cents.

Neither parties are to compete with each other within the territory now occupied by them respectively, nor shall they make connections with any telephone company or corporation operating in competition with the Nova Scotia Telephone Company or the Valley Telephone Company.

Contract Number Seven

No. 7.   Between S.P. Borden, Secretary, Wallace Bay Line, and the Nova Scotia Telephone Company, dated December 3, 1902, for a period of five years.

The Nova Scotia Company agrees to connect with the Wallace Bay Line, provide switching apparatus and do switching for five dollars per annum.  All telephones on Wallace Bay Line and within one mile of Pugwash shall be removed and no instruments placed within these limits or any extension made to any point covered by the lines of the Nova Scotia Telephone Company or connections made with any other line (Fox Harbour Line excepted), the telephones in residences of Messrs. Mitchell, Ross, Tuttle and Brown to remain, but same shall not be transferred to other parties nor shall any more instruments be placed between these points.  Ten cents shall be charged on all long distance messages going to or from Wallace Bay Line, which money shall be paid to the owners of the Wallace Bay Line.

Contract Number Eight

No. 8.   Between H.F. Elliott, Secretary, Gulf Shore Line, and the Nova Scotia Telephone Company, dated December 3, 1902, for a period of five years.

The companies agree to receive, transmit and deliver the messages of the subscribers of their respective companies.

The Nova Scotia Company agrees to connect with the Gulf Shore Line, provide switching apparatus and do switching for $5 per annum.  All telephones on Gulf Shore Line in and within one mile of Pugwash shall be removed, and no instruments placed within these limits or any extension made to any point covered by the lines of the Nova Scotia Company or connections made with any other lines.  Ten cents hall be charged on all long-distance messages going to or from the Gulf Shore Line, which money shall be paid to the Gulf Shore Line.

Contract Number Nine

No. 9.   Between the Conn's Mills Telephone Line and the Nova Scotia Telephone Company, dated December 3, 1903, for a period of five years.

The companies agree to receive, transmit and deliver the messages of the subscribers of their respective companies.

The Nova Scotia Company agrees to connect with the Conn's Mills Telephone Line, provide switching apparatus and do switching for $5 per annum.  All telephones on Conn's Mills Telephone Line in and within one mile of Pugwash shall be removed and no instruments placed within these limits or any extension made to any point covered by the lines of the Nova Scotia Company or connection made with any other lines.  Ten cents shall be charged on all long-distance messages going to or from Conn's Mills Telephone Line, which money shall be paid to the Conn's Mills Telephone Line.

By the Chairman:

Q.   I would like to ask whether the companies with which you have working agreements are free to purchase their instruments in the open market?

A.   No. The agreements in most cases require them to purchase from us.

Q.   Why is that?

A.   Simply to protect them against themselves.

Q.   Do you manufacture instruments yourselves?

A.   No, we purchase them.

Q.   From whom?

A.   From the Bell Telephone Company, the Kellog Telephone Company —

Q.   Are you free to purchase where you like?

A.   Yes.

Q.   In the open market?

A.   Yes, we buy the best instruments anywhere we can get them for the particular purpose for which they are to be used, and we sell to these other companies at cost, simply to induce them to put in the right kind of apparatus.

Witness discharged.

J.H. Winfield

1905: J.H. Winfield, Manager
Nova Scotia Telephone Company
House of Commons Select Committee appointed to inquire
into the various Telephone Systems in operation
in Canada and Elsewhere; Minutes of Proceedings
Committee Room No. 30, House of Commons, 2 May 1905
1922: The Prince Edward Island Telephone System
George E. Faulkner, President
O.E. Smith, Vice-President
J.H. Winfield, Managing Director
S.M. Brookfield, Director
1922 Prince Edward Island Telephone Directory
1927: J.H. Winfield, Managing Director
Maritime Telegraph & Telephone Company, Halifax
World Record Broadcast Made: Canadian National Railway, August 1927
1935: The Island Telephone Company Limited
J.H. Winfield, President
G. Fred Pearson, K.C., Vice-President
E.L. MacDonald, Director
Andrew MacKinlay, Director
C.H. Mitchell, Director
1935 Prince Edward Island Telephone Directory
1940: J.H. Winfield of Halifax is the Managing Director
of Eastern Utilities Limited, an investment holding Company
which owns all the issued shares of Canada Electric Company
Limited; The Eastern Electric and Development Company
Limited; and with the exception of 33 shares, all of
the 11,254 shares (par value $100) of the Moncton
Electricity and Gas Company Limited; also the majority
of common (voting) shares of Maritime Coal, Railway
and Power Company Limited; and all the issued shares
of Joggins Coal Company Limited.
—Source:  A prominent display advertisement in the Kentville Advertiser,
9 May 1940, by Johnston and Ward, a large Montreal brokerage firm,
offering for sale shares of Eastern Utilities Limited.


J.H. Winfield

James Henry Winfield's father, Rev. James Abbott Winfield arrived in 1891 in Halifax from England, with his wife and two sons, to serve as a lay missionary at St. Paul's Anglican Church.  After being ordained, he moved on to serve at New London and Alberton in Prince Edward Island.  He went to Africa and Palestine as a missionary prior to coming back to Nova Scotia and serving the church in Bedford as well as in Berwick before retiring to Kentville, where he died in 1945.

James H. Winfield was born in Derby, England on September 13th, 1874.  James attended High School in Halifax and after graduation he began his long career asan employee of the Nova Scotia Telephone Company.  During the day he sold and installed telephone service, while in the evenings he did "night operating."  Two years later he transferred to New Glasgow as the new local manager.  He returned to Halifax in 1900 and was promoted to Superintendent of Service.  A year later he was appointed Assistant General Manager and within the next few years he was promoted to General Manager.  By 1917 he was a Director of the Company, 1922 Managing Director, 1931 Vice-President, 1935 until 1943 was President and Chairman of the Board until 1948.

His wealth of knowledge in the field of public utilities and his many undertakings were well known throughout Nova Scotia and the West Indies.  Mr. Winfield held prominent positions on various Boards of several Halifax companies.  To name only a small number of these positions: Chairman of the Board of the Maritime Telegraph and Telephone Company; Director of the Island Telephone Company, the Atlantic Utilities Ltd., the Eastern Electrical and Supply Company, Thompson Adams and Co., Eastern Trust Company, Maritime Life Insurance Company, Lord Nelson Hotel, and the Tobago Plantation Ltd.; as well as the Managing Director of the Moncton Gas and Electric Co., the Eastern Electric Co., and the Canada Electric Co.

James Winfield was also instrumental in playing a role in the development of the Masonic Temple in Halifax.  He was initiated into the Society in 1903 and continued to be active in the organization for nearly sixty years.  He was presented with the 50 year Jewel in June 15, 1953 and given possession of the Erasmus J. Philipps Medallion.  He also was an Ex-Commodore of the Royal Nova Scotia Yacht Squadron and the Chester Yacht Club.  He died in Somerset, Bermuda, in 1963.

Case #H00197: Application to consider 76 Peregrine Crescent, GolfLinks Park, Bedford, as a Municipally Registered Heritage Property submitted to Mayor Kelly and Members of Halifax Regional Council, 8 May 2007


Appointed to inquire into the various
Telephone Systems in operation in
Canada and Elsewhere

Opposed by

Charles Fleetford Sise Sr.

In March 1880 Charles Fleetford Sise was hired as a special agent by William H. Forbes, president of the National Bell Telephone Company of Boston, a forerunner of the American Telephone and Telegraph Company (AT&T), to supervise the takeover of Canadian telephony by National Bell, a task which he accomplished most expeditiously.

Two Canadian subsidiaries were formed in 1880 – the Canadian Telephone Company and the Bell Telephone Company of Canada.  The first was to hold patents and lease equipment to the second, an operating company.  Meanwhile, Sise had also obtained the telephone operations of both the Montreal and the Dominion Telegraph companies, at the time the major telephone-operating companies in Canada.  By 1881 he had acquired, on behalf of his employer, "all remaining telephone properties in Canada" – 3,100 telephones in all.

General dissatisfaction with and animosity toward the Bell Telephone Company of Canada at the turn of the century grew to such proportions that parliament received petitions from hundreds of municipalities, counties, and individuals pleading for greater government control; led by William Douw Lighthall, the Union of Canadian Municipalities recommended that telephone systems be acquired by the government.  Facing growing public discontent, Prime Minister Sir Wilfrid Laurier in March 1905 established a select committee of the House of Commons, chaired by postmaster general Sir William Mulock, to investigate and report on the situation.  This unexpected turn of events caused Sise, then aged 70, to cut short a European vacation and hasten to Bell's defence.

Sise hired a prestigious and politically influential team of lawyers and expert witnesses and supported Bell in other ways as well – through his own lengthy and impassioned testimony before the committee and also by backroom lobbying.  Despite evidence received by the committee of high rates in territories where the firm had a monopoly, predatory practices in competitive territories, and a general unavailability of service in rural areas, Sise was successful in persuading the committee not to make recommendations, but merely to publish its extensive transcript, thereby all but neutralizing its work.

Laurier terminated the telephone inquiry just before the end of the parliamentary session in July 1905.  Regulatory powers over Bell were delegated to the Board of Railway Commissioners in 1906.

Source: Charles Fleetford Sise Sr. (1834-1918)



Pictou County

Letter to the Editor Sir: I see by investment circulars that the paid up capital of the Nova Scotia Telephone Company is $750,000.  In their report to the investigating committee two years ago they stated they had 704 miles [1133 km] of pole line, costing $72 per mile [$45 per km], and 3600 telephones connected.  Since then they have increased their pole line mileage.  Allowing them 1500 miles at $150 a mile [2400km at $90 per km], double the cost reported by themselves, and 5000 telephones connected at a cost to them of $15 each the total is only $300,000.  Where is the balance of $450,000 invested?  The question arises as to whether we are charged high rates to pay large dividends on water*, and apparently a good deal of it.  The more the subject is inquired into the more necessity there seems to be of an investigation.  Let the Government give us one.  The people along the line demand it.  It is hoped that one will be provided for during this session of the Nova Scotia Parliament.
A. Ross, Avondale, April 20th, 1907.

* Note: "Watered stock" is essentially a swindle perpetrated on the public by a company's directors and top management.  "Watered stock" refers to company shares offered to the public at a greatly inflated price as compared to the corporation's true value based on actual assets owned.  In the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries many promoters used this tactic (which was not only allowed but was actually encouraged in many jurisdictions by laws that rewarded it – laws that often were put into effect by elected officials who then received large financial benefits that were not publicly known).  The term may be derived from the practice of feeding salt to cattle to induce them to drink large amounts of water just before they are sold, thereby increasing their weight.  Thus, the buyer – whether of corporate stock or of livestock – pays for more than is actually received.

Watered stock Thomson Reuters
Watered stock Wikipedia

Editor's comment: If Dr. Ross's calculation is correct it would show that more than half of the Telephone Company's stock is water.  There must be some explanation, for it is a very serious thing to be told that half the cost to the public on the telephones used is charged to pay dividends on stock that never existed, or at least, stock that is not represented by paid up capital.
[New Glasgow Eastern Chronicle, 23 April 1907]

The annual meeting of the Pictou County Farmers' Association was held in Alma, Pictou County, on Wednesday afternoon and evening, 19 June 1907.  A goodly number of farmers were present... Dr. Ross, of Avondale, moved a resolution in favour of Government ownership of telephone lines.  Speaking to his motion the Dr. went very fully into the question of telephone rates, quoting statistics to show that the charges or rates of the Nova Scotia Telephone Company are excessive.  Comparisons were made with the telephone system established in other countries and the inference is that the company doing business here are not neglecting the opportunities of providing at least for their own families for the future.  Mr. George Cameron and Harold Falconer followed along the same lines and it was finally decided to lay the matter over for a special meeting to be called in some central place when the question of rural telephones will be discussed in all its branches.
[New Glasgow Eastern Chronicle, 25 June 1907]

Report of the Select Committee on Telephone Systems

No. 158

Mink Cove, Digby County, N.S.

Sir William Mulock
Ottawa, Ont.

I received your letter and papers of inquiry concerning telephone systems.  The Westport and Digby telephone line, I now represent, was organized by a company in 1888, stock issued $2,000.  The company ran the line 15 years.  The government laid two cables, one across Grand Passage, the other across Petite Passage.  The one at Petite Passage was carried away several times, vessels dragging down upon it, catching it with their anchors and cutting it away.  The government at last refused, or at least did not put another down.  It remained without a cable for a long while; the company ran heavily in debt and they sold out to me "personally."  I repaired the line and put a new cable down; the line then was forty miles iron wire, from Digby to Westport.  I also ran an extra wire of copper from Sandy Cove to Westport, a distance of 20 miles, exclusive of the two passages which were cabled with a one-core cable – that made half the distance from Digby to Westport copper.  The other 20 miles of iron wire, I connected with by-lines for business purposes.  I do about all the work myself excepting the repairing of instruments, which I send away to manufacturers.  The poles I furnish (nearly) all myself.  Other material I buy mostly in Montreal.

The system operates in Digby county.  The population of the territory served is 5,000, and total number of telephones in operation 40, of which 14 are direct one-station lines.  The number of residence telephones is 14, business 12.  The system is magneto, the central office equipment being manufactured by the Fisk, Newhall Telephone Manufacturing Company, of Chicago, Illinois, and the subscribers' telephones by the "Bell" Company, Couch & Seeley, Boston, and John Starr & Co., Halifax.  The rates charged per annum are, business $15, residence $10.  The system interchanges service with the Valley Telephone Company, the Yarmouth Amalgamated Telephone Company, and the Western Union Telegraph Company.

The system operates 40 miles of long-distance lines.  The charges for conversations over the long distance lines are 20¢ per message, exclusive of delivery, and 15¢ per message when connecting on other lines, in addition to the usual tariff of the connecting companies.

[boldface emphasis added]

Yours truly,
Owner and Manager, Westport and Digby Telephone Line

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Nova Scotia Telephone Company, Historical Notes

Archived: 2007 April 09

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