BC Tel, Operator Services Division

British Columbia, Canada

Operator Offices

Note- the Terrace History Book covers parts of the other areas as well.

Once upon a time, just like a fairy tale, BC Tel/Telus had Operators, Real People, that actually handled all Long Distance Services, Radio Tel Calls, and Directory Assistance.

There were Operators in just about every community in the early days, operating cord boards.

Display Located at Prince George Railway and Forest Industry Museum

I was lucky enough to find a history book in Ken Blanes's collection, for the Terrace Office.
It also contained names for some of the Plant employees from the early years, which kick started my memory.

Hope to one day find the history of the other offices.

As a general interest note, I have in my collection, one of the original Operator stools, with the cane seat.

Mine was used for years in the Radio Office in the new Plant Center. After the old barn burned down, I think Don Parr scrounged us a stool to use, for our Mobile Radio repair bench.
But the cane seat was just about ruined, on this old stool, so it was heading to the dump.
I couldn't see that happen, so I grabbed it, and brought it home to add to my junk collection.
I was going to redo the cane myself one day. A couple years later, talking to my old buddy, Chuck Lequereux, he told me he had a near new seat, from one of the old swivel Operator stools.
He gave me the seat, I replaced the old ripped one, and voila, a perfect stool. Except I set a saw on it in 2017 and cut the cane!! One day it will get donated to the Terrace Museum, or maybe the George Little House?

The Operators belonged to the Operator Services Division of the Federation of Telephone Workers.
They had a separate Local for them alone.
Sad to say, the History book has no mention of the Local, and only a half page item on the contract demands for 1969.
There is also a small article on the early strikes. So if anyone knows the Local number, please let me know.
Before the Telecommunications Workers Union was formed, there was the Operator, Clerical and Plant divisions, and they negotiated as 3 separate units.
The Operators in those days, had lots of power, Even with all this power, They were treated very badly in some areas, in the pre 1981 era.
Only after the Terrace Operator Room was taken over, during the 1981 labour dispute, did the real story immerge. Having to hold their hand up to go to the bathroom was one issue.
Something I thought was gone in grade school! And a dress code? Seniority rights? Their eyes were opened, and after that, They became a little more militant,
And started to stand up to some of the silly demands of the Chief and Assistant Operators of the previous era.
I can still envision pictures of roller skates on the feet of the supervisors behind a row of Operators.
It was tough job, always monitored, always under scrutiny. Turn over was tremendous, as the list here shows. Wages were poor, compared to Clerical and Plant.
Yet their jobs were critical to the company. Still doesn't make sense to me. Now it's a lady computer voice, when you dial 0!
Not the friendly “May I help you”, or “Your Number Please?”


  • Last modified: 2018/02/18 19:19
  • by dlgent