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Manitowaning Telephone Switchboard

Contribution du public
Manitowaning, Ontario
1950 - 1960
Matériaux et techniques
Wood and metal; Machined construction
Northern Electric Company Limited
Numéro d'identification
Assiginack Museum 1502.001
The earliest Manitowaning switchboard office was in Watson's Store. In 1939, the office was moved to the home of Ross Burns. In 1951, it was moved again to Roy Fields' residence. The switchboard office later moved to the Manitou Gift Shop, operated by Mary Pryslak. In 1960, the Gift Shop was destroyed by a fire, but the switchboard was saved. When Pryslaks rebuilt their home, a room was built for the switchboard, next to the kitchen.

The switchboard pictured is the final one to be used in the Pryslak office. It was used by the Assiginack Telephone Company up until the system changed to dial telephones on August 5, 1973. The old switchboard then found a new home in the Assiginack Museum.

The switchboard handled calls, telegrams, night letters, fire calls, and even the alarm for the bank was hooked into the switch. Since this was all done through one long-distance line, it was common to wait all day to get through to long distance. A party line in a small community meant that others often did listen in on conversations. There was little privacy, but it also meant that a community shared its news, gossip, and emergencies.

Mary Pryslak told the story about a time when a man wanted to buy 50 turkeys for a friend in Toronto when they were hard to get. He called a friend on the other end of the island, saying he didn't want want word to spread, or everyone would raise their prices. Thanks to the party line though, everyone knew. Within 10 minutes, he was getting calls with offers. Within an hour, he had his 50 turkeys at his back door.
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