The first telephone exchange in Hamilton was devoted to chess movements


In order to facilitate his regular game of chess, Hugh Cossart Baker Jr. rented four phones so that he and his friends could contact each other directly about their chess moves.

Melville Bell (Alexander Graham’s father) came to Hamilton and set up three phones on Baker’s private telegraph line and at the house of his friend CD Cory’s sister, JR Thompson.

This was the first telephone transmission between more than two telephones on the same circuit in Canada. After several successful trials, a public demonstration of the installation was arranged for August 30, 1877. The four telephones used for the August 30 public demonstration were the second telephones to be rented in Canada, and the cost was $ 45 per year.

Telephone schedule:

1874: Alexander Graham Bell invents the telephone. He was patented in 1876 when he was 29 years old.

June 25, 1876: At the International Exhibition in Philadelphia, Baker learns of Bell’s invention and decides to test the communication tool in Hamilton.

1877: The Bell Telephone Company is formed by Alexander Graham Bell.

June 20, 1877: Hugh Cossart Baker Jr. starts Canada’s first commercial telephone service in Hamilton. Baker and his friends TC Mewburn and CD Cory organize the West Side Domestic Telegraph Co., with main offices at their respective homes. Telegraph linemen thread the single line from house to house through rooftops, tethered to trees and a few conveniently located telegraph poles.

August 1877: Baker rents four phones and sets them up with his friends so they can discuss their chess moves.

August 30, 1877: A public demonstration of the installation is organized.

January 1, 1878: Baker forms the Hamilton District Telegraph Company. Later that year he bought the exclusive rights to the telephone facilities in the counties of Wentworth, Halton and Haldimand.

July 15, 1878: Hamilton’s first telephone exchange opens on King and Hughson streets, on the top floor of the Hamilton Provident and Loan building. It was the first telephone exchange in the British Empire and the second in North America.

May 15, 1879: Hamilton becomes the site of the British Empire’s first commercial long-distance telephone line.

December 1879: Baker founded the Hamilton Telephone Co., which received a federal charter in 1880. This later became the Bell Telephone Co. of Canada.


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