BC Tel

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BC Tel
Industry Telecom
Fate Merged with Telus (formerly AGT)
Successors Telus
Founded 1904
Defunct 1999
Headquarters British Columbia, Canada

BC Telephone and later BC Tel was the legal operating name for the telephone company operating throughout the province of British Columbia, Canada. For most of its history, BC Tel served as one of several regional monopolies in Canada. In 1985 the Canadian Radio-Television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) ruled to once again allow competition in long-distance telephone service.[1] In 1998, BC Tel merged with Telus to become the second largest telecommunications company in Canada.

History[edit]

William Farrell has been credited as consolidating virtually all of the telephone interests throughout BC to create the foundation of the BC Telephone Company/TELUS as we know it today. [2]

William Farrell moved to Vancouver with his wife Jessie Maude in 1891 as the first General Manger of the Yorkshire & Canadian Trust Ltd. for BC. With small private telephone exchanges springing up through BC in the early 1890’s Farrell took a large interest in the New Westminster & Burrard Inlet Telephone Company. Working with the owner he worked to amalgamate it with smaller companies eventually forming BC Telephone Company Limited in 1904. As president, William was the hand that guided BC Tel through the first 20 years initiating programs and balancing growth. Under his leadership, the company connected up the local exchanges in every community from Port Alberni to Victoria and Agassiz to Vancouver to create the telecommunications network we rely on today.[3]

In 1904 the Victoria & Esquimalt Telephone Company and the New Westminster & Burrard Inlet Telephone Company were taken over by The Vernon & Nelson Telephone Company. On July 5, 1904 the name of the company was changed to the British Columbia Telephone Company Limited. In 1916 the British Columbia Telephone Company Limited obtained a Federal charter and dropped the word Limited from its name.

Theodore Gary & Company bought a substantial interest in BC Telephone in December 1926 held in Canada under the Anglo-Canadian Telephone Company. Other Gary Companies at the time included International Automatic Telephone Company & British Insulated Cables. Mr G H Halse remained as President & General Manager of BC Telephone. BC Telephone participated in Canada's first coast to coast radio broadcast for Canada's Diamond Jubilee, July 1, 1927.

On the 1 April 1929, a charter was obtained for a new company under BC Telephone to be called "North West Telephone Company". This company was created to experiment with Radio-Telephony as a method to serve areas of the province otherwise unreachable by wire. The first experiment was in providing a connection to Powell River from Campbell River, 50 miles across the water.

A new record for storm damage in the BC Telephone system was set little over a year after the previous record had been set. The rain and sleet began early in the morning of Monday January 21 1935. There were 1500 poles and 700 miles of wire down in the Fraser valley. Victoria had 1800 telephones out of service. The trans Canada toll line wasn't back in service until 10 February 1935. The first photographs ever to be transmitted from Vancouver via wire photo service took place during the royal visit of 29 May1939.

GTE of Stamford, Connecticut, became a 50.2% owner of the BC Telephone Company when the Theodore Gary Company merged with GTE in 1955. The "North West Telephone Company" was officially merged into the BC Telephone Company on 1 January 1961. In 1979 the BC Telephone Company acquired Automatic Electric Canada and formed "AEL Microtel". Soon afterwards the name was shortened to "Microtel". In 1982 "BTE - Business Terminal Equipment" was formed to compete in the newly deregulated premise equipment field. BC Telephone formed "BC Cellular" in 1985 to compete in the new cellular telephone business. On 1 May 1993 BC Telephone reorganised under holding company "BC Telecom Inc" and changed its legal operating name to "BC Tel".

Merger with TELUS[edit]

The deregulation of the phone industry in the 1990s combined with the competition of copper lines with cell phones, totally changed the business environment. In a 1999 "merger of equals", BC Tel merged with Telus (the telephone operating company in Alberta). Initially registered as BCT.Telus, the hunt for a new name began. Soon after it was announced that the newly formed company would keep the Telus name and the headquarters would be in Vancouver. With the merger, the newly formed Telus became the second largest telephone company in Canada after Bell.

References[edit]

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