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Page Index of A History of Portage la Praire
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Some of the early telephones installed in Portage were the "Blake" type, The talking current was supplied by a wet battery and every few months the telephone man, driving a horse and buggy, would come around to keep the liquid in the tank filled. To the horror of the housewife, quite often acid dripped down on to the carpet during the process,
Telephone lines in those early days were all "open wiring" with fences and roof-tops providing support. Poles were used only when the telephone people ran out of roofs, After a heavy wind, the telephone agent would parade down the streets armed with a long pole to clear the crossed and tangled wires. The pole would sometimes slip, accidentally of course, striking dangerously near a bedroom window. Many a resident was jarred out of bed at dawn by the telephone man "innocently" performing his duties.
The first long distance line between Portage and Winnipeg was opened for service in 1900 and proved a great boon to the businessman. Mr. O'Brien's premises soon became too small to ac commodate the growing exchange so the equipment was moved in 1905 to the building now occupied by Rey's Tailoring and Cleaning.
Following Mr. O'Brien's retirement, Mr. Frank Burbridge was put in charge. After a few years he retired due to ill health. He was followed by J. B. Carter who was in charge until 1910, when District Superintendent R. C, Brown was transferred from Dauphin to Portage la Prairie.
An MTS work-crew, (Picture taken in 1919)
Left to right: E. Smith, Dick Adams, V. McKenzie, J. Graham and Bill Letwin.