In the fall of 1939 the right of way was cut for the power line to bring electricity from St. Andrew’s through Goshen. Poles and lines were put in place April 1940. Goshen was hooked up at that time.
Road works and Automobiles
Around 1920, cars started to populate the roads of Goshen. Lloyd Sinclair’s grandfather had a ’28 Essex. Seward Feltmate got a truck in 1941, a Chev, one of the first in the area.
In the 1950’s the roads were rebuilt and the highway paved in the early 1960′s.
South River Mutual Telephone Company Limited
Service area in Antigonish County: Fraser Mills, Upper South River, South River Lake, Loch Katrine, and Copper Lake. In Guysborough County: Goshen, Eight Island Lake, Argyle, and Giants Lake.
The South River MT Co. was incorporated under the Rural Telephone Act on 29 August 1913. It connected to the North American telephone system at the MT&T Antigonish Exchange.
In 8 Island Lake, Seward Feltmate cut the poles and buried them to get the first phone service in the area in the late 1930’s early 40’s. It was a novelty and people in the area came to the house to use the phone.
On 5 October 1974, South River MT Co. abandoned its territory and went out of business. At the time of the shutdown, the company had sixteen circuits on 36 miles /58 km of pole line, and served 97 subscribers.
Telephone operators in Goshen were Mrs. John Kennedy of Argyle who kept the telephone board in her house followed by Hughie Turner, who served as operator until the automated operator system came to Goshen in1974.
Finding newspaper clippings of retirement parties for Hughie Turner prompted a bit of research on the history of the rural telephone in Goshen and area, and also the names of previous operators.
To summarize a write up in Rose Carter’s book “Ripples from Copper Lake”, a meeting in Copper Lake School in March 1913 resulted in the formation of the Cooperative Mutual Telephone Company. This was for the areas of Copper Lake, Lochaber, Goshen, Loch Katrine, South River and Giant`s Lake. The switch board was to be located in the Loch Katrine area. Rose did not list any of the operators of that exchange so after some research and some calls I have listed what I hope is the proper sequence of operators and events.
The first location of the switch board was in the home of Peter Kennedy at Loch Katrine. This information came to me from Donald R. MacMillian, Upper South River. Donald`s mother Laura (Morrison) MacMillian (who was born in 1913) came as a young child in 1919 with her parents from California to Loch Katrine where their family roots were. Laura remembers that Jessie Kennedy, daughter of Peter, was the operator at that time.
Later the switch board was moved to the home of John and Jean Kennedy and Mrs. Kennedy became the operator for many years. On her retirement in the early fifties, the switch board was moved to an old house on a Cameron property on the other side of the South River. Operators at that location and in chronological order for a short period of time were: Mae Kennedy (Mrs. Charlie), Nellie (Kennedy) Hallet (Mrs. Seward), Muriel (Cameron) Mac Gillivary (Mrs. Angus), Ruth Reid (Mrs. Wyman) and Hughie Turner.
The Company then purchased a building from Warren and Ida Cameron in Goshen. When I was growing up (1940’s-1950’s) this building had been an ice cream parlour and canteen. This building was very close to the highway so after the purchase the building was moved farther back from the road. Hughie Turner then moved from the Cameron house in South River to Goshen and became the operator in the newly purchased building. He lived there too. He retired in the fall of 1974 when the exchange became a dial system under Maritime Tel&Tel. The building was then given to Hughie and moved to land he owned on a hill overlooking South River Lake. This became his retirement home.
Hughie was a soft spoken quiet man with unlimited patience and kindness. I remember calling home when I was at university and Hughie would say, “Elizabeth, your mother is at a meeting, but when I think she’s home I’ll call and tell her you called. Is everything all right with you? Do you want me to give her a message? Everyone is well at your home.” This was a ‘voice message service’ long before voicemail was developed.
The poetry Alice MacCulloch wrote to honour Hughie on his retirement has several lines that say:
“He was a grand old operator, with his voice so kind and true; And most of us would give our all to know the news he knew!”