Edmonton Alberta EXchange History Back
Mark J. Cuccia, 1996/10/02

The telephone company in Edmonton Alberta had for *DECADES* been owned by the city government. Early last year (1995), Telus, now the parent company of AGT purchased EdTel from the city government of Edmonton.

Edmonton had dial service since about 1910 or so, using Step-by-Step equipment. It was originally supposed to have a "Lorimer" system which was a 'rotary' version of the future panel switch, however the purchase order wasn't fulfilled by the time the telephone company wanted to begin converting some exchanges to dial. The Edmonton District Telephone Company thus purchased Stroger step equipment from Automatic Electric of Chicago. Originally, Edmonton's dial equipment was 'three-wire'. Ringing was NOT provided by machines, but still by either turning a magneto crank (although power was common battery), or by pressing a button after dialing the local number. Thus it was possible to press or crank out 'coded' rings to identify *who* was calling, which individual at a number was *being* called, or to 'telegraph' out family messages without even having to verbally converse! (Something like what could be done on a 'party line')

Eventually, this system was converted to standard two-wire connections, along with central office based automatic 'ringing machines'.

I don't have the years any particular exchange was introduced, nor when an exchange was converted from manual to dial. However, I do have information here regarding Edmonton's conversion to 2L-5N (seven digit) numbers, which occurred in one night, on 15 March 1959.

Edmonton had five and six digit local numbers prior to this. No names had been used, although the exchange was identified by the first digit for five digit local numbers, or first two digits for six digit local numbers.

In 1959, Edmonton began to use *named* exchanges, rather than simply converting to seven numerical digits. AT&T and the other North American telephone companies had been considering eliminating 'names' for exchanges about this time (ANC, All Number Calling), so it does seem ironic that they would have gone from all numbers (although less than seven digits) to *named* exchanges at such a late date when converting to seven dialpulls.

2-xxxx became GArden-2-xxxx (422)
4-xxxx became GArden-4-xxxx (424)

9-xxxx (provincial government offices) became CApital-9 (229) (Sometime by the late 1960's, 229 for the provincial offices was changed to an "Edmonton" form 4NX exchange, although I don't know what it would be. All Calgary numbers were of the form 2NX by that time.)

All other numbers were six digits, with the first digit being converted to a letter:

3x-xxxx became GEneva x-xxxx (43x)
5x-xxxx became GLendale x-xxxx (45x)
6x-xxxx became HOmestead x-xxxx (46x)
7x-xxxx became GRanite x-xxxx (47x)
88-xxxx became HUnter 8-xxxx (488)
89-xxxx became HUdson 9-xxxx (489)

It does seem from the 'numbering arrangement' that Edmonton was still exclusively a "step-by-step" city at the time of conversion to seven dialpulls, although Edmonton Telephones might have begun introducing #5XB offices at the time. Maybe someone has further details to fill in any gaps.

I also want to thank Geoff Capp who supplied me with most of this Edmonton exchange history.