Former Telephone Company Employees Reunite

There are family reunions, church reunions, neighborhood reunions and class reunions. But, it’s likely not often that former corporate employees reunite to celebrate the good times they had while working for their old employer.

Alumni from the Edmonton Telephones Corporation (Ed Tel) gathered on May 31 at the Kingsway Legion in Edmonton to begin a new tradition. Rick Lawrence, a past employee who did most of the organizing for the event, felt it was important to get as many of the old staff members together as possible.

“It’s been 18 years since Edmonton Telephones was sold and merged with the Alberta Government Telephones Commission [AGT] to form Telus,” he recalls. “[We wanted to] reunite with people we used to work with.”

Telus Communications formed in 1990 to ease the denationalization of crown corporation AGT. The company acquired Ed Tel from the city in 1995, and became the owner of all province phone services. Four years later, the company merged with the British Columbia Telephone Company (BC Tel), and became the second-largest telecommunications company in Canada.

Ed Tel alumni are already known as a pretty close-knit group. The Telephone Historical Centre in Edmonton was formed by a group of Ed Tel retirees in 1987. The centre holds a large collection of “antique telephones and telecommunications technology.” There are hands-on exhibits, a multimedia presentation and smartphone QR codes attached to the items so visitors can learn more about them.

Researchers and those looking for even more details on the industry can search the centre’s archives. It holds vintage telephone directories from 1895 to the present day, technical manuals from the 1800s on, oral histories, an extensive collection of photographs and many rare original tomes.

Lawrence put a lot of work into making sure his previous co-workers could reminisce and mingle. He promoted the reunion via e-mail, word of mouth and Facebook. “They all worked well,” he says, “especially cascading e-mails to existing [associates] looking for contact information from others [we still needed to connect with].”

He also feels the evening offered up a lot of memorable moments. “Just seeing all the smiling people together again was great,” Lawrence states. “I built a slide show of former work events and pictures of any memorabilia pertaining to Ed Tel, and the slide show ran all evening. [It was] a trip down memory lane, and a great sidebar for a reunion.”

Lawrence believes fellow reunion planners should start early for the best results.

“It was a great experience but lots of work, as I did most of the organizing myself. My advice would be to get lots of assistance and start collecting contact information very early in the process,” since it will probably be difficult to track some people down.