Abstract: Telephones and the Challenge to Monopoly Ownership in the Early Twentieth-Century Canadian West

Ronald S. Love


In the early twentieth century, there erupted a major controversy in Canadian that directly affected the emergent telephone enterprise across the country. This was the debate over private versus public ownership of industries classified as "public utilities." Engaged in the quarrel were two major antagonists: large monopoly corporations determined to protect and expand their control of certain services free from external interference or regulation; and resentful municipalities equally determined to halt the wholesale chartering of public service corporations by federal or provincial governments in a campaign to recover lost autonomy within their own jurisdictions. Connected to the feud were serious questions about the quality of the specific services provided in relation to allegedly exorbitant fees paid by subscribers.