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Bell Canada's plan to become an income trust is the latest metamorphosis in the company's 126-year history. Canada's largest communications company, whose past is tied to the invention of the telephone, will become the largest income trust in the nation. Here is a list of key past - and recent - developments in the company's history:

Summer 1874: Alexander Graham Bell discusses his theories on the telephone with his father, Professor Alexander Melville Bell, at the family home in Brantford, Ontario.

March 7, 1876: Mr. Bell receives a patent for the electric-speaking telephone and his father unveils the invention. Early phones were made of wood in the shape of a box or a butter stamp. Much of the conversation was lost. The rental fee was about $40 a year.

February 1879: Dominion Telegraph agrees to market the Bell telephone. At the same time, Montreal Telegraph acquired the rights to distribute Edison telephones. The keen competition between these two companies had negative effects: Montreal Telegraph subscribers and Dominion Telegraph subscribers couldn't telephone each other and city streets were invaded by a profusion of poles and wires.

Summer, 1879: Professor Bell decided to sell his rights to the telephone. Potential Canadian purchasers declined, and the rights were sold to National Bell of Boston, owners of Graham Bell's patent in the United States.

1880: National Bell chooses a Boston businessman, Charles Fleetford Sise, to organize a Canadian phone company. Sise becomes the founder of The Bell Telephone Company of Canada, incorporated by federal charter on April 29, 1880.

1881: The Mechanical Department (now known as Nortel Networks) in Montréal was created to assemble the American-made telephone parts.

1915: Marked a turning point in the history of the phone with the first transcontinental telephone call.

May 1, 1920: The first stock purchase plan of The Bell Telephone Company of Canada was introduced for its employees.

December 31, 1931: As the Depression worsens, more telephones are disconnected than are connected for the first time in Bell's history.

1943: As a result of the Second World War, a growing number of women are trained as technicians in some central offices.

March 7, 1968: Use of corporate name "Bell Canada" is authorized.

April 28, 1983: Bell Canada Enterprises Inc. becomes the parent company of Bell Canada and all shareholders of Bell Canada become shareholders of BCE Inc.

June 12, 1992: CRTC opens door to long distance competition.

May 6, 1998: Jean C. Monty succeeds Red Wilson as the new CEO of the company

June 30, 1998: CRTC allows competition in the public phone service sector.

Feb. 25, 2000: BCE launches an unsolicited $2.3-billion bid for CTV. The buzz word of the time: "convergence."

Sept. 15, 2000: BCE, Thomson, and Woodbridge Co. Ltd. create a new company that will own The Globe, CTV and Sympatico-Lycos.

Jan. 9, 2001: BCE and Thomson Corp. create Bell Globemedia, a company with interests in broadcasting, newsprint and the Internet.

April, 2002: Jean Monty surprises investor by resigning from his CEO post. Michael Sabia becomes president and chief executive officer of BCE.

June 28, 2002: BCE says it will pay $6.3-billion over the next two years to buy back the 20 per cent of Bell Canada held by SBC Communications Inc., of San Antonio, Tex.

Sept. 11, 2006: Telecom rival Telus announces plans to convert to a trust, sending BCE shares soaring on talk it would soon follow suit.

Sept. 12, 2006: Bell's chief operating officer George Cope down played speculation the company would convert to a trust. "At the last AGM in June . . . we indicated we were not prepared to convert the balance of Bell Canada at that time," he said. "We also said management and the board continue to review the suitability of an income trust structure in light of technical and competitive change. And that remains our position."

Oct. 11, 2006: BCE says it will convert Bell Canada into an income trust.

With files from Bell Canada's website and the Globe and Mail archive.

Follow Tavia Grant on Twitter: @taviagrantOpens in a new window

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