Nelson Telephone Company

About 1907, The Nelson Telephone Company Limited was given a charter by the Ontario Government. The Company was authorized to operate a phone system in the Townships of Nelson and Trafalgar with $10,000 in capital. The Village of Lowville, in Nelson Township, would house the main office.

Thomas G. Ramshaw owned and operated the telephone Company. In other accounts, Mr. Ramshaw is described as one of the Company’s founding members and was the Secretary and Manager of the Company.  Thomas George Ramshaw was born in Lowville, the son of George Ramshaw and Mary Jane Coulson.  George was a blacksmith in Nassagaweya. 

In 1913 he relocated to Milton where he had a real estate and insurance business.  He also served on Milton Town Council from 1918 to 1920.  He was Reeve in 1931 and 1934.  It is interesting to note that in a biography he is described as a Liberal and a Methodist.   

The office was located on Lot 7, Concession 3 just at the top of the hill in what was known as Highville.  The building was constructed in cinder blocks.  A photo from the time also shows a building attached to the north.  Just barely able to be seen are the letters W W or V……OTEL.  It is unknown what ‘hotel’ this might have been.  In later years, it was referred to as a tenement house; perhaps it was a long term stay residence for workers or families not yet able to purchase a home of their own or just passing through.  

To the south of the building was a white frame house that was the residence of Mr. & Mrs. Ramshaw.

Some of the local Lowvillians such as E. B. Coulson and James Auckland worked for the Company helping to transport poles and equipment. Ladies held positions as telephone operators. In the photo, Millie Coulson and Mrs. C. Readhead represent the operators.

In May of 1922, Mr. Frank Twiss was billed $0.25 for a call to John Prudham in Waterdown and an additional $15.00 for one year’s phone service. Interest on overdue accounts would be charged at $0.25 per month.

In 1925, The Bell Telephone Company took over the Nelson Telephone Co. lines. The system was overhauled at that time to bring it up to date. The article which appeared in the Georgetown Herald on April 22, 1925 reported that the headquarters were in Lowville for 40 years. This does not align with the local folklore that the Company was founded in 1907.

Courtesy of Georgetown Herald

If you have information that is different or confirms what is in the article, please don’t hesitate to contact us

Contributing Author: Helen Callaway