From the Gazette in 1928, “Hammond is to have the honor of being the first place in the Province to have Automatic Telephonic service. The nearest place to B.C. is Edmonton, whereas in Winnipeg and other large towns, it has been in operation for many years.”
The exchange operated out of the Hammond office, servicing 125 subscribers.
The exchange was run by the British Columbia Telephone Company, later known as BC TEL and today, as TELUS. The company’s roots began as the Vernon and Nelson Telephone Company, with incorporation on April 20, 1891.
In 1904, after buying up a number of the smaller telephone companies throughout the province, the Vernon and Nelson Telephone Company changed its name to the British Columbia Telephone Company, Limited. The name – British Columbia Telephone Company – was established in 1923, under a federal charter that the company had obtained in 1916. This marked the start of BC TEL which remained relatively unchanged until the mid-1990s, when the company came under the brand of TELUS.
The earliest telephone numbers issued after the installation of the first exchange in Hammond were single digit numbers. Some of those low numbers survived the automation of Hammond if they were located in Haney. After the automated exchange was installed in 1928, Hammond appears to have gone to 4 digit numbers as indicated by the 1942 list.
By 1944, numbers were changed again with low numbers still in Haney and with a letter suffix added after most residential numbers. It may be that this reflects the addition of “party” lines where, for example, 35-F and 35-G would be neighbours on the same line.
In 1951, the Haney exchange was automated and became the dominant exchange for Haney-Hammond while the old Hammond exchange became a residence. At that point, the numbers were all changed to 5 digit numbers with either “Haney” or “Hammond” as a pre-fix.
In 1954, the numbers are the same as 1951 but are written in the format, “Haney 7-1234” which is getting more like modern numbers. Between 1957 and 1960, the “exchanges” were introduced, likely to reduce compilation from community names having the same first letters. Haney-Hammond became “Ingersoll” but that was not to last long.
As the need for real long-distance developed internationally, all number phone numbers of the modern type were introduce: first in Whonnock and then later all of Maple Ridge. The 1963 phone book shows all numbers as “IN 5-9536”, for example, with Whonnock numbers shown as 462-7369. By the 1964 phone book – all are numbers.