Telegraph Department

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From 9:00 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., the Telegraph Department, housed at head office, was filled with the overtones of the staccato tap, tap, tap of the telegraphic typewriter, the undertones of the dot and dash tappings of the Morse Code operators, and the interrupting swish, floop of the pneumatic tubes carrying typewritten messages to and from the more important departments of Head Office or the Montreal Branch.

In the 1930s, Bank of Montreal’s Telegraph Department and private wire system were considered the “last word in up-to-date equipment.” This was the nerve centre of a far-reaching system of communications that connected Bank of Montreal branches across the continent and overseas.

The teletype machine could send and receive messages, making it possible to carry on a typed conversation much in the same way we use texting on our smartphones today.

From the BMO archives, here’s a description of what it was like to watch the machine:

“There is a touch of the weird in one’s first experience with one of these machines, especially if it is receiving. You see a machine, quite unattended, busily typewriting a message, just as though a stenographer is operating it, but that stenographer is hundreds of miles away.”


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