MTS has played a part in everyday
life in Manitoba for a century – through
a general strike, two world wars, and two major floods. And during
that time, our services and our employees have had a significant
impact on important events in our customers’ lives. Allstream,
too, has been contributing to the lives and businesses of customers
across the country for more than a century and a half.
If you have a memorable story about
how MTS Allstream or one or more of its employees made a special
impact on your life, please share it with us. We will share
selected stories from those contributed on this site – so
please check back in the months ahead.
Click here to share your story
My grandfather, Adam P. Jamieson was a very early employee of MTS. His daughter, Jean (my mother) is the only one of Adam's children still alive today, at nearly 86 years old. She tells me that he was living in Scotland as a young single man and was a soccer player of some note and as a reward, he was given the opportunity to relocate to Canada to work for the new telephone company in Winnipeg.
Mum says that her dad was at first a lineman and then soon after became the paymaster -- a job which he held for his entire life. He emigrated to Canada in 1907.
Mum also said that growing up in Winnipeg, they were one of very few people to have a telephone in their home. As a child, they learned that having a telephone was a privilege and they learned telephone manners very young and that a telephone was to be respected and never to be abused.
I started working with CNT in 1943 and left briefly to work with Defence Communications, which was a combination of CN & CP engineering people and the heads of some large companies. I went back to CNT in 1946, going into the automatic operators school, and continued as an operator until 1971 when I transferred to the computer center in the Place du Canada building in Montreal to become a computer operator.
A Computer Operations Supervisor position was created and I was the first to fill it. I continued in that capacity until the center was closed and operations transferred to the CNCP Bldg on Notre Dame St. By that time we had worked with CNCP Telecommunications, then Unitel, and then a few more name changes after that. I retired from the company in September 1985 and am still enjoying my retirement.
One of my most vivid memories is from around 1958, shortly after CN Telegraphs moved into the Bonaventure building. A fire broke out in the lumber yards in a town called Cabano, which ultimately resulted in most of the town being destroyed by the fire. As this was happening, messages were being received back and forth for days and the wires were humming with activity, with news flashes and all the requests for help from the mayor of the town and the provincial government.
This is more an observation than a story – it involves a movie called Mob Story, which was filmed in Winnipeg in 1990, and thanks MTS in the closing credits.
Mob Story had a lot of great shots of Winnipeg – the Eaton’s department store sign was still there and a major scene in the movie featured a car chase down Portage Avenue, with a lot of visible Winnipeg landmarks.
This credit at the end of the movie brought a smile to my face. I thought it was great that MTS was involved and credited with helping this movie, which featured many famous Canadian actors, including Al Waxman, and Margot Kidder and John Vernon.
Mob Story should be recommended viewing for our Eastern friends, who so enjoy kidding about our cold winters in Winnipeg – the movie certainly enjoys taking a jab at our wintry climate.
And, hats off to the MTS executives that saw the value in supporting this movie. Since 1990, Winnipeg has been the filming location for a number of major Hollywood films including Capote, Shall We Dance, and The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford.
During the early 1980’s, I was hired by MTS as a summer student and worked as a pay phone coin collector and counting clerk. Under the managerial leadership of Fred Hafichuk and his staff, I learned career building accounting and managerial skills that I employ today. I was proud to be out on the road, representing the company as I traveled from the Interlake to southeast Manitoba and to every corner of Winnipeg.
My prey was the Nortel Centurion pay phone and the task was to find it and relieve it of its bounty. In the pre-cell phone era of the early 1980’s this phone was in wide use. From beach side boardwalks to manufacturing plant floors, I had the unique opportunity to visit pay phone installations that opened my eyes to Manitoba’s industry, institutions and diverse society.
I’ll never forget the pay phone that stood alone on the shores of Lake Manitoba that was constantly hit by lightning or my ventures into the industrial floors of the Transcona railway shops. Without a doubt, this was the best summer job that a young man could have.
To my former co-workers, family and friends employed at MTS Allstream, Happy 100th anniversary.
I started working for C.P. Telecommunications in Winnipeg in 1959. My job at that time was as a temporary telegraph bicycle messenger, which I worked on weekends and summer holidays. It was a dangerous job – I remember getting hit by a car at Portage and Main, but fortunately for me I received only minor injuries.
In those days, messengers were expected to always look good and have their uniforms clean and boots polished. We were given a hat with the C.P. logo, a blue shirt, and a black leather pouch that we carried our pack of telegrams in; I still have that pouch today.
I remember a lady that was assigned to look after us messengers – her name, I believe, was Mrs. Koskie. She would always inspect our uniforms while we sat together on a long wooden bench waiting to receive our pack of telegrams. One of my most memorable days on the job was the day Queen Elizabeth II came to Winnipeg on a Canada-wide tour. We were told to make sure we showed up on time, looking great, with boots spit and polished, and to stand at attention in front of the office at Portage and Main.
Those were the good old days…
Back in the Kenton, Manitoba area in the 1950s, it seemed like our MTS Operator, Bessie, worked 24 hours a day - it seemed that no matter what time you picked up the phone, Bessie was there to help you reach whomever you wanted to call.
We had party lines back then, and everyone had their own specific ring to let them know when the call was for them. There were times when you had half the community on the same line, too - when you think about it, we had conference calls long before the businesses in the city did.
I remember early one morning at harvest time, we heard the one long ring that meant "emergency". Everyone picked up the phone, and Bessie told us all that there was a barn fire over at a neighbouring farm; we all packed up and went over to help put out the fire, as there weren't fire engines in our community in those days. Just about the whole community was there, working together to help out a neighbour - thanks in large part to our MTS Operator, Bessie, and her emergency call.
Some of the most notable, yet rewarding times I remember from working at MTS occurred during the 1997 Flood when all of us had to quickly shift gears from the IPO to preparing for a major disaster.
I was working on the crisis communications roll-out and was amazed by the dedication of the employees and the company. Being still fairly new with MTS, I hadn’t really seen them in full action, but I am still impressed by how well everything went. Not only did we keep telecom service fully operational throughout the event, we managed to generate some good news coverage for the company at the same time.
I’m particularly proud of the way we as employees took time - with the full support (and pay) from MTS - to load up buses of volunteers who went out sandbagging in some of the most threatened areas. I also remember how well we leveraged our technology. In one case, I recall an incident when a member of the Armed Forces fell into the rushing water and, thanks to the special (and highly durable!) MTS wireless unit he was using, he was able to stay in communication and was later pulled to safety.
Stories like this were common during my time with MTS. So while we faced some tough challenges, we also had a lot of fun and did a lot of great things in our communities. I’d have to say throughout it all, it was the people who made the difference.