Author Topic: Automatic Electric (Canada) History  (Read 3753 times)

Offline DavePEI

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Automatic Electric (Canada) History
« on: October 08, 2015, 07:46:55 AM »
While working on the Museum's  Facebook page, I have put together a number of postings on the Automatic Electric Plant in Brockville, as well as on the  Eugene F. Phillips Electrical Works plant which first manufactured AE phones in Brockville. I am going to present them here for what they are worth, post by post, for those interested in Automatic Electric.

It began with a discussion of a piece of Phillips Cable which Terry rescued and dropped off:

A section of cable manufactured at the Phillips Cable Plant in Brockville, Ontario. Previous to becoming Phillips Cables, it was known as Phillips Electrical Works, where AE phones were manufactured in Canada from the 1930s. IN 1953, construction of a new AE plant began in Brockville on Strowger Bldv., and AE moved to the new facility in 1954. Phillips was bought by British Calendar Cables, and continued manufacturing wire and cable for many years. This sample brought by Terry Biddlecombe.
 This section of cable was manufactured in 1957 according to its runner. One has to cut through its lead sheath to expose the wires and runner.
 See the brief discussion about the plant under my photos of the finished AE phones brought by Terry. This has been mounted in the Museum Wire and Cable display, added to it this afternoon.
« Last Edit: October 08, 2015, 08:12:41 AM by DavePEI »
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Offline DavePEI

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Re: Automatic Electric (Canada) History
« Reply #1 on: October 08, 2015, 07:48:12 AM »
Then:

 A photo from the days when it was known as The Eugene F. Phillips Electrical Works and manufacturing AE phones (Pre-1954) This photo from the Book, "How Phillips Cables Helped to Build a Nation", printed in 1989.
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Offline DavePEI

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Re: Automatic Electric (Canada) History
« Reply #2 on: October 08, 2015, 07:49:47 AM »
 In 1954, following AE's move to its new plant, it became  Eugene F. Phillips Cables, and produced Wire and Cable only until its closure.
« Last Edit: October 08, 2015, 08:14:07 AM by DavePEI »
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Offline DavePEI

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Re: Automatic Electric (Canada) History
« Reply #3 on: October 08, 2015, 07:53:03 AM »
The plant at the end came under the umbrella of General Cable, and one of their reps found this copy for me of the anniversary book left over in one of their store-rooms when he sent me wire samples for the Wire and Cable display. It was printed on the occasion of their anniversary.

Phillips had the first rolling mill in Canada. The construction of the Rolling Mill plant in the 1920s in Brockville - from the above mentioned book. The mill was built on King St. West, and had many expansions over the years as various product lines were produced. By the 1930s, Automatic Electric had increased its ownership of the plant to 80%. In 1935, they began construction of telephones in a separate building at the plant, and were building telephones, switchboards, and other communications equipment. During that time, it was officially known as the Eugene F. Phillips Electrical Works, making telephones in one building, and producing cable in the Rolling Mill and plant..
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Offline DavePEI

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Re: Automatic Electric (Canada) History
« Reply #4 on: October 08, 2015, 07:54:16 AM »
In 1953, Automatic Electric began building their new plant on Strowger Blvd. in Brockville and when it opened in 1954, work at the Phillips plant reverted to its former Wire and Cable manufacture only. Below is a photo of part of the new AE plant under construction, late 1953. This was considered to be the prototype for the later Eastlake plant in the U.S. I hope all this will be of interest to people who have either Phillips Electrical Works or AE (Canada) phones made in Brockville. I remember both these plants very well, growing up during their heyday, and a good third of my friend's parents worked at one, or the other plant!
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Offline DavePEI

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Re: Automatic Electric (Canada) History
« Reply #5 on: October 08, 2015, 07:55:18 AM »
Workers assembling Switch Banks at the new Strowger Blvd. AE plant:
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Offline DavePEI

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Re: Automatic Electric (Canada) History
« Reply #6 on: October 08, 2015, 07:56:09 AM »
Also, something that may be of interest to AE fans. This is a matchbook cover I purchased some years ago. I remember seeing many of these these discarded when i was very young. I now have it framed, as part of the AE display. It reads, "Whichever way you look at it, the Type 80 Monophone has everything. Made in Canada by Automatic Electric (Canada) Ltd., Brockville, Ontario"
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Offline DavePEI

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Re: Automatic Electric (Canada) History
« Reply #7 on: October 08, 2015, 07:58:25 AM »
 The new plant was built on a 33 acre site on Schofield Hill, on a appropriately named new road,  Strowger Blvd. (100 Strowger Blvd.) in Brockville. I don't have any good photos, as back then, I didn't have a camera. So here is a brief history of the new GTE/AE plant:
1953 - Construction began.
1954 - Construction completed and telephone operations moved to the new plant.
1955 AE Merges with General Telephone & Electronics Corp. [GTE].
1979 - Became AEL Microtel, then Microtel  (owned by the British Columbia Telephone Company (BC Tel)).
1990 - Plant sold to Nortel, becoming Brock Telecom and was doing support for the GTD-5 digital switches in Canada.
1999 -- Sold to Samina SCI Systems - I have several photos from this era.
2001 - Plant closed, and later was subdivided to become an Industrial Mall of sorts, and is still operating in that function.
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Offline DavePEI

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Re: Automatic Electric (Canada) History
« Reply #8 on: October 08, 2015, 07:59:54 AM »
One final photo of the plant main entrance taken while the plant was still GTE/AE, provided by Roger Reid via Clarence Marshall sent to me a few years ago. This one really brings back memories to me.
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Offline DavePEI

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Re: Automatic Electric (Canada) History
« Reply #9 on: October 08, 2015, 08:00:59 AM »
Here is another photo of 100 Strowger Blvd., the above building as photographed by Google Street View in August 2015. If you go to Google, and enter 100 Strowger Blvd, Brockville, you can pan around and examine various parts of the plant's exterior. There, you can also see the Earth View, from the sky of the plant as it is now.
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Offline DavePEI

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Re: Automatic Electric (Canada) History
« Reply #10 on: October 08, 2015, 08:02:14 AM »
Artist's conception of the new Automatic Electric from the AE Book, "Automatic Electric - Pioneers in Communication Techniques", Published the year after the new plant opened. Needless to say, it was expanded considerably through its operating years.

In 1969, I had the pleasure of getting to know a large number of their employees, when I did the stage lighting for the Automatic Electric's Players production of "The Magical Lamp of Aladdin",  which they put on in the auditorium of the Brockville Collegiate Institute. Unlike newer schools, it had a full auditorium and stage with full theatrical lighting. I still have the lighting script for the show. Some years later after graduation, as mentioned in another post, I returned the same school to work with a contractor installing a Step switch provided by AE, along with AE80s and AE90s provided by AE. Phillips provided the wire for the complete rewiring of the school.

Alas, I left Brockville in 1978, and missed the declining years of both plants, but will always be proud that Brockville was a telephone town. After all, these plants were a large reason for my interest in telephones!
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Offline DavePEI

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Re: Automatic Electric (Canada) History
« Reply #11 on: October 08, 2015, 08:07:02 AM »
This post is a bit out of order, due to the fact I had placed it elsewhere on the Museum page, but I am including it since it shows the old Phillips plant in its entirety....

The afore mentioned photo of the cable refers to was referring to a cable manufactured by Phillips Cables in my home town, Brockville, Ontario. This is the same plant, formerly, Phillips Electrical Works, that first manufactured AE in Brockville until the new AE plant opened in 1954. AE remained closely aligned with the plant, with AE selling cable manufactured there for many years.  I will be mounting that section of cable in the Wire and Cable display! The Phillips plant was demolished in 2008, the end of an era. The last item to be demolished was its huge smoke stack. The following photo taken from a 1949 calendar when the plant was still manufacturing AE phones: I have a few items manufactured there, and always welcome more, as they bring back fond memories of my childhood. Thank you, Terry!
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Offline DavePEI

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Re: Automatic Electric (Canada) History
« Reply #12 on: October 08, 2015, 08:08:28 AM »
I apologize for the monologue format of this thread, but it was the only way I could think of bringing up the subject here. I spent quite a while back some years ago researching the changes in ownership after I had left Brockville, and had a lot of assistance from Terry. I eagerly continue looking for further information and photos from the heyday of both these plants, as they were part of my youth. I hope that you AE collectors will find this history and collection of photos of interest.
« Last Edit: October 08, 2015, 08:23:51 AM by DavePEI »
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Offline Fabius

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Re: Automatic Electric (Canada) History
« Reply #13 on: October 08, 2015, 10:29:22 AM »
1955 AE Merges with General Telephone & Electronics Corp. [GTE].
1979 - Became AEL Microtel, then Microtel  (owned by the British Columbia Telephone Company (BC Tel)).


Wasn't British Columbia Telephone owned by GTE at the time (1979)?

Thanks for posting the information.
Tom Vaughn
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Offline DavePEI

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Re: Automatic Electric (Canada) History
« Reply #14 on: October 08, 2015, 10:49:10 AM »
No, BC Tel bought out GTE.

Theodore Gary & Company bought a substantial interest in BC Telephone in December 1926 held in Canada under the Anglo-Canadian Telephone Company.

Although GTE of Stamford, Connecticut, became a 50.2% owner of the BC Telephone Company when the Theodore Gary Company merged with GTE in 1955, BC Tel remained an entity on its own.

 On October 6, 1979 the BC Telephone Company acquired GTE/Automatic Electric Canada and formed "AEL Microtel". Soon afterwards the name was shortened to "Microtel".

A bit of a Corporate juggle, perhaps, but in the end, BC Tel  got control over GTE Canada. While I don't understand all of the legalese, the end result, is that AEL Microtel and Lenkurt wound up under BC control.
 
Terry may be able to fill in a few more details when he returns from his cruise.

1955 AE Merges with General Telephone & Electronics Corp. [GTE].
1979 - Became AEL Microtel, then Microtel  (owned by the British Columbia Telephone Company (BC Tel)).


Wasn't British Columbia Telephone owned by GTE at the time (1979)?

Thanks for posting the information.
« Last Edit: October 08, 2015, 11:23:52 AM by DavePEI »
The Telephone Museum of Prince Edward Island:
http://www.islandregister.com/phones/museum.html
Free Admission - Call (902) 651-2762 to arrange a visit!
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