From The Scrapbook By Rev. Bill Randall


October 1998

 By Dr. Bill Randall

Harvey’s Early Telephones

Telephones become increasingly efficient, but some of us older people a bit complicated. Wouldn’t it be nice to go to that big box on the wall, grab that crank on the side, and accomplish three long and one short! or just one long and be able to talk to a human voice – maybe Carol Hood, Marie Williams or Muriel Embleton?

Here are a few facts relative to the early history of the telephone in the Harvey area.

As early as 1904 or 1905 the Harvey Telephone Company was organized. This company actually was a composite of several different companies, in other words it was made up of divisions. Each division served a separate settlement which built its own line and was responsible for its maintenance. The shareholders in each division had a manager who represented them on the board of management. All messages from one division to another were without charge and all divisions paid their portion of the operation expenses. Under this organization rural lines were constructed from Harvey Station to Tweedside, Brockway, Prince William, Magaguadavic, Blaney Ridge and Lake George. For instance, the line between Thomaston Corner and Brockway was built by the Brockway people. Mr. J.D. Davis was the manager of this division and represented the Brockway community on the board of management. Mr. Ernest Vail, prominent merchant and lumberman at Brockway built a line of his own from his place of Business at Brockway to Lawrence Station with a spur through to Flume Ridge thus completing a circuit from Harvey Station through to Lawrence Station.

The Harvey Telephone Company was not in operation long until trouble arose between certain divisions which in time practically wrecked the Company, therefore, around 1909 the York and Charlotte Telephone Company was organized and incorporated. Mr. Thomas Robison of Harvey was one of the chief promoters. A switchboard was installed in the store of S.B. Hunter at Harvey, and in July 1910 an agreement was made with New Brunswick Telephone Company whereby the York and Charlotte Telephone Company would run a trunk line circuit from their exchange at Harvey Station to Lower Prince William on the west side of the St. John River twenty-two miles above Fredericton and the New Brunswick Telephone Company agreed to run a circuit from the Keswick Exchange to this point to connect with it.

“I have a statement of tolls between the NB Telephone Co. Ltd. and the York and Charlotte Telephone Co. for the month of April, 1923. Calls made from Harvey to Fredericton – 24 calls, to Keswick – 4, to Saint John – 4, to Vanceboro – 1, to Woodstock – 2. In that month, Miss Robison made the most number of calls, possibly on behalf of others for she was an operator.”

In 1916 the exchange was moved from Hunter’s store to the residence of S. Allan Robison, Miss Mary Robison, his daughter becoming the operator. By this time the

maintenance and operating expenses had so increased as to make it necessary to increase the yearly rentals of the telephones. This was bitterly opposed by many of the subscribers and a number had their telephones removed, from this date on the Company began to decline not having the necessary money to keep up the system. The pole line began to deteriorate and by 1934 Harvey was practically without telephone service.

At the request of the people in and around Harvey the New Brunswick Telephone Company installed an exchange in 1934 and constructed a toll pole line from Long Creek through to Harvey and McAdam. They also re-routed their St. Stephen – McAdam toll line by constructing a line by way of Lawrence Station and Brockway joining the Harvey – McAdam line at Thomaston Corner. The Company’s exchange was installed in a building owned by Frank N. Halford, now owned by Ethel N. Halford, and a No. 1220 Northern Electric switchboard was installed starting with one hundred subscribers.

Today, 1948 Harvey Station Exchange has 153 subscribers, one direct toll line to Fredericton and one to McAdam. The staff is as follows:

Miss Violet M. Halford, Chief Operator

Miss Irma R. Cunningham

Mrs. Bertha F. Grieve

Miss Barbara F. Mowatt

Miss Margaret T. Robison

Harvey Station is in District 3 and under supervision of Fredericton.

“There are many interesting stories involved with the operation of the local exchange you could now phone Muriel Swan, Elinor Holland, Joan Little, Judy McCullough, Barb Embleton, Marie Williams, Faye Henry, Joan Woodcock, Carol Hood, or others and I’m sure they would be happy to tell you their own personal adventures.”

Source: Rev. Bill Randall’s “From The Scrapbook Vol. One.”

Recommended Reading

Interested in learning more about the rich history and heritage of the Harvey region? Here are a few blog posts that might pique your interest: