Sidetone: Autumn 1996


25 High Park Blvd. Toronto M6R 1M6 (416) 536-9252
  • Joel Eves
  • Stephen Purdey
Sidetone is a regular publication of WTT Communications Ltd. distributed, free of charge, to customers, staff and friends.
Editor this issue:Joel Eves
Vol. XXXIIIAutumn, 1996No. IV


On Saturday October 5th, collectors of antique telephone equipment converged on Central United Church in Barrie for Ontario's fourth annual antique phone show and sale. Organized by Bill Doherty of Midhurst, this year's event garnered a good deal of interest from the general public.

An excellent first impression was made by the beautifully restored 1957 Bell installer's truck in the parking lot. Pet project of Murray Crimless, a telephone hobbyist from Cannington Ontario, the Dodge Fargo custom-body pickup took five years to complete. It was a painstaking project and, at his table inside the church, Murray had the photos to prove it.

Elsewhere inside, more than a dozen collectors, some from as far away as Detroit and Montreal, displayed or sold their wares. US collector Pete Blanshard, from whom I bought a 202 (1930's desk phone), was intrigued to learn there's a Blanshard Municipal Telephone System in Ontario.

It was a pleasure to meet and talk shop with old friends Bruce Crawford of Cargill, Paul Axman of Guelph and Frank Lutka of Etobicoke. Fellow key equipment collector Jean-Claude Laramée of Montreal, whom I met at the first show in 1993, finally got the opportunity to come back and wander through our warehouse after the event.

Although I spent more money than I took in that day, all in all it was a great time. And I got some of my Christmas shopping done early!

Any who doubt that telephone collecting is a modern hobby should look at on the internet. This site, es­tab­lished by noted US collector and high-school Guidance Counsellor Chuck Eby, is the definitive telephone collectors' page. Features include a list of phone buffs with e-mail addresses, photos of collectible desk telephones of the Bell System, and membership information about the Antique Telephone Collectors' Association (ATCA), a US-based organization more than a thousand strong of which Chuck is a board member.

Anyone considering themselves to be a collector can get their name on Chuck's list. Those who are actual ATCA members also have access to a buy/sell/trade listserver which may someday replace the traditional monthly newsletters used for this purpose by organizations such as ATCA and TCI (Telephone Collectors International).

Our congratulations go out to Chuck for a fine effort. Let's hope his internet site continues to grow.


During its 29 years of business, Western Telephone has had a total of eight vice-presidents. It was indeed a rare occurrence when more than half of them attended a Company social event this summer.

To immortalize this unusual convergence, former VP Ian Steer snapped the photo below (while being in it, of course).


The ListerMeister! The infamous INI UNOT hp SJ Purdey The famous PJ Barnes JCE A Portrait of Five Vice Presidents

Here's our Who's Who (clockwise from bottom right):

Paul "PJ" Barnes, our first VP (1967-68), now produces and distributes video tapes of steam trains and other historical transportation media under the name Video Classics. When not working, PJ can often be found singing and playing guitar at a favourite hangout in the Beaches.

Joel (never been VP) Eves: still at WTT after all these years.

Ian Steer (1981-83) is a recognized writer and photographer. By day, he sells specialized computer systems.

Tõnu Naelapea (1989-92) is working at home, when his two children allow it, as well as continuing his education at U of T.

Henry Postulart (1977-78) now writes custom software, designs web sites and helps out on WTT projects.

Steve Purdey (1970-77, 1983-87) is an old hand at this VP stuff. Our current Vice-President, Steve is concurrently finishing work on his MA in Political Science at U of T, and is active in the movement toward sustainable development.

Dave (I don't work here) Lister just couldn't resist a photo opportunity. Vice-President of a Toronto brokerage, Dave thought the call for VPs applied to him. A friend and customer, Dave worked at WTT while a student in the summer of 1974. Maybe he'll return as VP someday.


With the advent of voicemail, automated attendant and other telephone features requiring the caller to use Touch-Tone, the days of the rotary dial telephone must surely be numbered. Or are they? While its usefulness on the public network is becoming limited, the old, reliable dial phone can still be a valuable asset for intercom service.

The building intercom currently being installed by WTT at a west Toronto business centre is just such an application. The system, when completed, will allow visitors to the Sorauren Avenue building to contact tenants from the front door any time of the day or night. When the authenticity of a visitor has been verified by the tenant, the touch of a button will admit the visitor to the building.

Originally built near the turn of the century as a knitting mill, the building at 251 Sorauren Avenue is being systematically upgraded by owner Jodno Ltd. Jodno spokesman Todd Stein is enthusiastic about the outdoor telephone set to be used at the front door; its look is in keeping with the renovated industrial theme of the project. Now a somewhat rare item, these phones were once commonly used for police call boxes, taxi stands, and other outdoor applications.

Western Telephone is a principal tenant in the four-storey building, using about half the ground floor as warehouse and Work Centre. In all, the complex houses about two dozen businesses in a wide range of fields including theatrical prop rental, architectural model building, printmaking and guitar repair. Management is currently involved in a program to improve facilities at the Sorauren building; the intercom is part of this upgrade.

Each tenant's unit will receive a rotary dial wall telephone as part of the project. While principally installed for door answering, these phones will also be useable for tenant-to-tenant communication. Since the system uses standard analog telephony, the door intercom can also be accessed from multi-line analog phones such as those in our own Sorauren facility.

To be completed during November, the Sorauren security intercom will rent to Jodno on a full-service plan. Location of the intercom's switching apparatus in our own WTT Equipment Room will facilitate our fine-tuning of system features. Once the tenants have had a chance to evaluate the intercom, a similar project may be undertaken at a second Jodno building on Dovercourt Road in Parkdale.


Three engineers and three accountants were about to travel to a conference together by train.

"I'll bet all three of us can get to the conference on one ticket," bragged one of the engineers.

"Show us!" said the accountants.

As soon as the train arrived, the three engineers boarded and squeezed into the same lavatory. Some time later when the conductor passed by to take tickets, the lavatory door opened a crack and a hand came out holding a ticket. Once the conductor had moved on, the engineers emerged and found seats.

The accountants were impressed, and after the conference they announced that the three of them would return on one ticket.

"That's fine," boasted one of the engineers, "we'll go home without buying a ticket!"

The accountants purchased their ticket, boarded the train and tucked into a lavatory. A moment later, one of the engineers strode up to the lavatory door, knocked, and gruffly intoned: "ticket, please". Out came a hand holding a ticket. The engineer took the ticket and, with his two cohorts, headed for another lavatory to await the conductor.

(origin unknown)

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