Skip to main content
Canada’s most-awarded newsroom for a reason
Enjoy unlimited digital access
$1.99
per week
for 24 weeks
Canada’s most-awarded newsroom for a reason
$1.99
per week
for 24 weeks
// //

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.

Story continues below advertisement

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.

Story continues below advertisement

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.

Story continues below advertisement

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.

Story continues below advertisement

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.

Your Globe

Build your personal news feed

  1. Follow topics and authors relevant to your reading interests.
  2. Check your Following feed daily, and never miss an article. Access your Following feed from your account menu at the top right corner of every page.

Follow the author of this article:

View more suggestions in Following Read more about following topics and authors
Report an error
Tickers mentioned in this story
Due to technical reasons, we have temporarily removed commenting from our articles. We hope to have this fixed soon. Thank you for your patience. If you are looking to give feedback on our new site, please send it along to feedback@globeandmail.com. If you want to write a letter to the editor, please forward to letters@globeandmail.com.

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff.

We aim to create a safe and valuable space for discussion and debate. That means:

  • Treat others as you wish to be treated
  • Criticize ideas, not people
  • Stay on topic
  • Avoid the use of toxic and offensive language
  • Flag bad behaviour

If you do not see your comment posted immediately, it is being reviewed by the moderation team and may appear shortly, generally within an hour.

We aim to have all comments reviewed in a timely manner.

Comments that violate our community guidelines will not be posted.

UPDATED: Read our community guidelines here

Discussion loading ...

To view this site properly, enable cookies in your browser. Read our privacy policy to learn more.
How to enable cookies