by Gordon Smithson

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Gordon Smithson, Clerk, CNT Windsor, Ont. 1952

The CNT Commercial Office was located at 364 Ouellette Ave., next door to the Prince Edward Hotel in downtown Windsor, Ont. We shared a long narrow office with the CNR Passenger Department, the latter being situated first in the door from the street. A long customer counter extended the length of the office from the front door to a point where it curved in a right angle to the sidewall, at about centre of the telegraph room allotment.

The CNT Manager, Frank Barsotta had his desk immediately behind mine. Mr. Barsotta’s telephone was one of the older daffodil models. He managed to grip the receiver with his shoulder and chin, and typed quite efficiently on the typewriter with his other hand. He had an extension to the morse order-wire and was well versed on using the morse code.

My job, in 1952, was early night counter clerk for telegraph customers, and in addition to this, I typed up due bills, and handled incoming telephone customers (sending telegrams) after the early night telephone operator, Robert Ivey, went off duty.

After Ernie Michaud went off duty at 400 p.m., Burt Mullen despatched the CNT messenger staff who handled the early night deliveries of telegrams to the customer.

I recall the process of a thin wet see-through-paper that was placed on top of a telegram, then sandwiched together through a set of rollers, creating a copy to be retained in the office, while the original was sent out for delivery with one of the messenger boys.

(The ink on the teletype ribbon was a special type that transferred onto the wet paper).

The rear of the office was partitioned off and this is where the telegraph bays of plant equipment were situated. Jack Leonard was the day Wire Chief, and the evening shift was covered by Pat Lacey. TX Toronto could be coded in by morse code enabling a selector to engage a buzzer in the Toronto plant centre. (dot dot dot space dot space dot dot or a similar morse pattern, and vice-versa Toronto could engage the Windsor Wire Chief’s buzzer in similar fashion).


Just inside the rear door leading in from an alley, the messenger boys waited in a small room for their call to come to the front office to get their next delivery.

An interesting thing about this CNT office, it had its Telegraph Operating Room located in the basement. A pneumatic tube system provided the means of passage of outgoing and incoming telegrams between the main floor and the basement.

My favourite restaurant was just around the corner- The Tunnel Bar-B-Q, and our coffee break was an orange drink enjoyed next door at the Honey Dew Restaurant.



Profile Of A Fellow Windsor Employee – Elwood Hough

Elwood Hough, teletype-operator/wire chief, Windsor,Ont. 1952


I got to know Elwood Hough during my short time at Windsor when we both worked the early night shift, and went out for supper at the Tunnel Bar B-Q .

In addition to being a teletype operator, he also had a background in wire chief plant duties.  About 1952, Elwood was in the process of applying for work in the United States, eventually getting a position with a major US railway at or near Bakersfield, California.


In 1954, I returned to Windsor as Automatic Operator covering a vacation relief for the Telegraph Operating Room staff. A 1954 photograph that accompanies this narrative, shows the pneumatic tube system, and a receive-only and a send-receive Model 14 teleprinter. An additional Model 15 page printer accommodated the sending and receiving of press reports.

Gordon Smithson, Automatic Operator, 1954

and a portion of the CNT Windsor,Ont.

Telegraph Operating Room.



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Date this page was last Updated

04/09/08 03:09:12 PM