Chapter: Connections

Hardwood wall phone

"All calls were 'crank' calls"
1916 circa wood wall crank phone with separate ear horn and protruding mouthpiece wood wall phone


The wall-mounted wood magneto phones were part of every Manitoba home for almost 100 years. In the rural areas they provided a means of communication for isolated farm families and provided access to the market for their products.

Manitobans still tell the stories of 10 people sharing one party line and "rubber necking" (listening in on other's calls on the same line). On shared lines, each household had its own unique ring - for example line 323 ring 7 was one long and two short rings.

One lifted the ear piece from the side, turned the crank on the other side to summon the operator, and spoke into central extension. The two round black bells (not unlike school bells) rang when a call was coming in.