Quest in Roots:
Brookdale Manitoba History

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The telephone has played an important role in the growth of Brookdale over the past 80 years.

Early in 1877 only a year after Alexander Graham Bell obtained the first telephone patent, the first two telephones made their appearance in the west. They were installed in Winnipeg by an enterprising telegrapher named Horace McDougall.

The Bell Telephone line came through the district in 1906. The Brookdale telephone exchange opened with its office in the drugstore. Miss Myrtle Clegg (Mrs.

Bradley) was one of the first operators. She worked there for three years at $35 a month until she earned enough money to attend Wheat City Business College.

There were 55 subscribers at that time.

In 1908 Manitoba''s telephone facilities were ..

Minnie McWilliams and Margaret Brandon purchased by the Provincial government for $3,300,000 making it a publicly owned utility known as the Manitoba Government Telephones. By that time there were 14,000 customers in Manitoba. The utility later assumed the present name of "The Manitoba Telephone System".

Manitoba Government Telephones official directories are still in existence today and date back to the 1890''s. The telephones in the Brookdale area can be found recorded as early as 1913,with 11local subscribers and 56 rural subscribers.

Mr. J.F. Jones came to Brookdale and built the brick boarding house. He had the telephone office in that building. In 1921, Mr. R. Barrett purchased the boarding house from Mr. J.F. Jones and he also had the telephone office as well as his boarding house, and served meals. Miss Nora Atkinson (Mrs. Ben Dennis) worked in the telephone office here for many years.

The telephone switchboard, post officeand general store were for many years all in one building occupied by Mr. A.L. Curtis, Mr. Joe Babcock, Mr. Dankesrihter, and Art Becker. There were many operators over the years and some of them were: Doris and Edna Curtis, Martha Dodds (Irvine),Rena Roberts (Wilman), Annetta MacKenzie (Kinney), Merle Alexander (Chisholm), Winnie Rankmore (Brandon).

There must have been some concern about Brookdale losing their switchboard when this poem appeared in the Oberon news in May 1924.

Telephone Question We''ve cast our little ballot. and we''re anxious for the day, When we hear from J.E. Lowry in his office far away, But this will be his verdict, to every chief and squaw, Some of you willgo to Carberry and some to Neepawa, Then our friends who live in Brookdale, How they''ll holler, how they''ll yell.

Messrs. Lawrie, Curtis and Loader willraise particular hell.

But it matters not to Lowry - it''s all as clear as water, He wants us for subscribers to cash in every quarter.


However Brookdale continued to hold the switchboard.

In 1945 a new telephone office was built next to J.P. Lawrie''s home and the switchboard moved from Becker''s store to the new building. There were living quarters in the back for the chief operator. Erma Conde was the first chief operator. Some others who worked in this telephone office were Vera McCwlough (Hockin), Lila Rankmore (McLeod), Edith White (Pierson), Carolyn Robinson (Ruckle), Harriet McQuarrie (Costley), Marion Mitchell (Kennedy), Peggie Jones (Hunter), Thelma Jones (Grasby), Kay Winslow (Haslan), Shirley Ellard (Winslow), Grace Simpson (Jones), Ruby Gowan (Adams), Shirley Jones (Reidle), Ruth Chudley (McDonald), Mae Chudley (Hoey), Phyllis Chudley (Harvey), Ina Sayward (Garbutt), Marie Chudley (Denbow), Joyce Hockin (Fraser), Margie Kennedy (Taylor), Miss Brimacombe, Mrs.

Muriel McIntyre, Mrs. Lottie McLeod, Mrs. Violet Hoey, Mrs. Hazel Taylor.

In the spring of 1960 the telephone system took its initial step to introducing buried cable facilities to rural subscribers. On January 18, 1968 the new telephone exchange on the corner of Cypress St.

and Railway Ave. was opened when the residents of Brookdale and district began using their new dial telephone.

This dial exchange was established at a cost of more than $150,000 and served some 170 local and rural telephone customers. During a brief ceremony, the facilities were officially inaugurated at 9 a.m., Thursday, January 18, 1968. Councillor A.W. Poole of the Rural Municipality of North Cypress pulled the switch to retire the old manual equipment, while Reeve W.M. Froom energized the new automatic facilities. AlMidwinter, from the Manitoba Telephone System in Brandon was on hand to provide an explanation of the new dial system. Coincident with the conversion to dial, Brookdale residents began using seven-digit telephone numbers listed in the new provincial directory.

September 8, 1975 The Manitoba Telephone System announced the arrival of Direct Distance Dialing (DOD) to 10 southwestern Manitoba Communities, including Brookdale. DDD enabled these communities to dial their own station-tostation long distance calls to most of the telephones in North America. The introduction of a new electronic switching machine was part of a $10 million project that would eventually bring Direct Distance Dialing to some 70 communities through the new Brandon facilities.

A new Traffic Operator Position System (TOPS), the first of its kind in Canada, was part of the new system installed.

TOPS allows operators to record calling information automatically onto magnetic tape instead of the manual procedure used at that time.

The modern positions also feature video display terminals that present calling information on television-like screens. The use of TOPS positions is one more example of the on going modernization of the telephone network, allowing MTS to handle more and more calls with greater efficiency while keeping its costs at a reasonable level.

Now in 1985-86 there are 142 subscribers at Brookdale who truly make good use of their telephone system as they can call - Carberry, Neepawa, Arden, Eden and Riding Mountain exchanges without long distance charges.

The Manitoba Telephone System is owned and operated as a public utility by the Government of Manitoba. Its objective is to provide all of Manitoba with the most up-to-date and versatile communication system possible.


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