Ticker School 1958

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by Gord Smithson


As an Automatic Operator in the operating room on the tenth floor at 347 Bay Street, I applied on a bulletin listing an upcoming Equipment Maintainer School to commence shortly at Toronto. I wrote the required test and it was passed by Jim Eaton.

Our teacher was Frank Dickson, who got us orientated on gaining some knowledge of the 5A Stock Ticker in use on the Toronto and Vancouver Stock Exchanges. Part way through the course, Frank was replaced by Dick Billson who taught us the remainder of the course on Model 14 and Model 15 teletypes.

When it came time to trouble shoot the equipment, Dick Billson would place troubles for us to locate, such as a spring disconnected at one end, and loose screws, etc.

I think Dick got bored with this, so he got Charlie Basley to give us some more trouble shooting problems to solve.

When we went on staff as junior equipment technicians, we worked under Frank Sparling. Our assignments were the downtown stockbrokers in the Bay, King, Adelaide Street financial district. My white shirts were forever getting covered with ticker ink, and occasionally those little ink rollers dropped to the floor, and yes, an un-removable stain resulted. We had little cans of alcohol which got some of the ink stain off our hands.

Oh by the way, would you suspect your fellow workers of un-doing the turnbuckle that held in the small-parts trays in your tool bag, and then you had the trays slip out onto the sidewalk or middle of the street car tracks at the intersection?

When Bob Paxton came on board as head of the ticker maintenance section, a new program which involved the rotational swapping of tickers at each broker monthly, caused chaos in a number of brokerage firms. The print quality on the clear cellophane tape was critical of the speed of the Translux pullmotor and the orientation of the print shield above the typewheel of the 5A ticker. The problem was solved some years later with the complete removal of the old 5A tickers being replaced with the modern Transjet overhead screens. CNT staff were subcontracted to troubleshoot and install the new Transjet equipment so we didn’t loose staff in that regard.

One individual that stood out in the staff at Toronto was Norm Ayre who was an expert at repairing the ancient old-style Sports Tickers, and the pedestal-mounted units with a rotary dial in use by the stockbrokers and their customers. Norm was also the un-official CNT liason contact party between the Ticker Department and Harvey Moore of the Toronto Trans Lux Corp’n office.

The Toronto Stock Exchange had wall-to-wall Translux screens that were elevated above the trading floor. CNT staff were homesteaded by choice to this location to ensure continuity of service. Gord Sim handled the tickers, and the other facilities came under the care of Dave Phillips, Stan Skinner, and E.W. Bullock.


How times have changed since then! The old mechanical equipment has gone from the stockbroker’s office to be replaced with compact computer keyboards and monitors on each individual employee’s desks. The answers to the worldwide markets are responded within mili-seconds, and requests for information are a click of the mouse away!


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Frank Sparling, CNT Toronto  Equipment Supervisor, 1958

TransLux&5ATicker.jpg (75960 bytes)

TransLux Projector with 5A Ticker


CNTtickerSchl 580002.JPG (63271 bytes)

l-r back row:  Bob Wilson, Bill Hammel, Clyde Paddle, Vic Hill, Leon Dukeshire,

Tony Battaglia, Gord Kenmer.

l-r sitting:       Helmutt ______, Gord Smithson.

CNTtickerSchl 580003.JPG (44134 bytes)

l-r Leon Dukeshire, Gord Smithson, Charlie Basley,  and Clyde Paddle (troubleshooting)


Webmaster A. R. (Sandy) Purdie   

Date this page was last Updated

04/09/08 03:32:06 PM