Montreal Telegraph Company

422-424, rue François-Xavier

At the time of its foundation, Montreal communication was limited to hand writing.  Around 1837, the Morse code was an emerging method to send messages. To transmit a message, the telegraph was using an electromagnetic field.

During this period Montreal had the full attention of the British but Toronto was working hard to get more attention.  It looks like Toronto was slightly ahead of time for the deployment of the telegraph. Montreal businesses reacted strongly by recruiting Mr. Wood, a student of Morse, for the implementation of the telegraph in Montreal.  In 1847, the Montreal Telegraph Company was born and Mr. Orrin S. Wood was the president.

While Wood had the expertise, business-wise Mr. Hugy Allan, from Allan Shipping Company, had the contacts and in 1851 he became the president.  Together, they both made things happen. The expansion of the service went quickly to Quebec City, Toronto, and New York, all in the same year.  They even purchased Toronto’s telegraph company the next year making them a leading company.

Over time, many smaller entities were looking into this new technology. Competition was strong and many were purchased by Montreal’s Telegraph Company.  Even the railway companies were interested in the subject and it seems even the Montreal Telegraph Company was changed to C.P.R telegraph (Canadian Pacific Railway).

Since the building located on 422-424 François-Xavier Street in old Montreal had been built in 1901, it can’t be the first building where it all began. However, with the Telegraph Chambers engraved on its façade, activities surely occurred here and it is a mark of the Montreal accomplishment in this development. This was the beginning of long distance communication. Today, the building is a residential complex.

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