This Heritage building was one of the largest cable relay stations in the world. It housed some of the most technologically advanced equipment for its time. Nine thousand miles of cable ran in and out of this building facilitating much of the news of world events and communications between Europe and North America. It was first constructed of wood in 1884 and replaced by the brick building in 1888.
Located in Hazel Hill, just outside of Canso, this town has elegant company houses which are vestiges of a bygone era.
Next to the building is a park which has one of the Stations of The Trans Atlantic Cable Communications Heritage Trail.
The Americans first conceived the idea of linking the hemispheres and it was their money which primarily financed the companies involved. The German-designed cable was constructed at Sir Alexander Siemans’ factory at Woolrich, England. The English not only did the actual work of laying the cable but also provided the ships necessary for this important task. Almost all cable operators were rigidly trained in England. The Creed Automatic Printing Device, an instrument used in virtually every cable office in the world, was invented by a native Nova Scotian who for many years lived in Canso. His name was Frederick Creed.
Although an American Company, Commercial Cable relied almost exclusively on the English for operation and management personnel. The Hazel Hill ‘Canso Station’ was promoted by the company as being the most technologically advanced Cable Station of its’ time. To attract and retain their workforce, Commercial Cable is reported to have provided “generous salaries and luxurious working living conditions to their British telegraphers” …and families. Commercial Cable employees lived in rent free homes. They were also provided with a multitude of recreation and leisure activities, one month of vacation each year, and a fifty dollar bonus every three years. “Such amenities in the nineteenth century were virtually unheard of.” Company homes had electric lights, running water and indoor plumbing, well in advance of most homes of that area.
Commercial Cable was sold to International Telegraph and Telephone (ITT) in 1927 which in turn was acquired by Western Union in 1988.