On this day, in 1879, Toronto’s first telephone directory was published
When Toronto’s very first phone book was published on June 8, 1879, the phone was still just a latest-generation gadget that had only been patented three years earlier.
The 56 businesses and residences listed at the time span a total of six pages. Of course, there weren’t any numbers yet – a live operator had to connect every call between phone subscribers.
The telephone book, published by the Toronto Telephone Despatch Company, predated dialing, combined earpieces and mouthpieces, and even the ability to speak and listen at the same time.
It was easy to see why making a quick call was a little tricky for residents at the time – so much so that clear instructions on how to do it were included in the book.
âLet the phone rest against the lower lip. While listening, press the phone firmly against your ear, âhe says. âSpeak slowly and clearly, with a little force, but not in a high tone. “
“Give your listeners enough time at all times to transfer the phone to their ear before speaking, and make sure a sentence is finished before answering.”
The Toronto Telephone Despatch Co. lasted only two years before being acquired by the Bell Telephone Company of Canada, later becoming the famous Bell Canada.
Needless to say, Toronto’s very first phone book was a far cry from the heavy yellow pages that collected dust in your closet.