Hosted by Interpool Development
Copyright © Port Hope and District Historical Society

Dr. Alexander Carruthers Beatty - The Telephone Exchange in Hope Township

A Special Feature presented by the Port Hope and District Historical Society

[ Dr. Alexander Carruthers Beatty ]Alexander Beatty was born in the village of Elizabethville on Oct. 10th, 1860. He attended the local one-room school and later Port Hope High School. After graduating he taught school in Elizabethville in order to earn enough money to attend medical school. He graduated from Trinity Medical College in Toronto in 1889. Following graduation he apprenticed with Dr. Clarke in Cobourg, and then started to practice back in Elizabethville.

In 1895, after marrying Sophia Trull of Leskard, he moved his practice to Garden Hill where they had purchased a large home. In the late 1800's Hope Township was a rural farming community, and its residents lived some distance from the doctor, their only source of medical care. Dr. Beatty had learned of the recent invention of the telephone and through advertisements in magazines found he could order phones and install them himself. In 1895 he did just that by placing four telephones at Elizabethville, Canton, Bewdley and the Cavan boundary, all linked to his home. As time went on more and more farmers wanted to be hooked up and the Beatty Telephone System was born.
The doctor employed many of his relatives as operators and linemen, never really considering the phone system to be a business but a necessity to area residents. The first operator was his wife Sophia Trull, followed by his niece Ora Trull, cousins Lillian Liggett, Cora and Edith Carruthers, a niece Ona Gardiner, and area women, Irene Plooard and Mary Peters. The doctor’s cousin Alex Carruthers and his nephew Jim Gardiner also worked for him on the phone system. Alex Carruthers, who later became the area’s MPP, managed the system from 1946 to 1956.

[ Sophia Trull ]In the early days of phone technology everyone was on a party line and listening in was the way people got the news of the day. The doctor even encouraged this as a way of getting information out.

Many amusing stories and incidents surround the early days of the system and its operators.

The doctor himself was a colourful character dispensing his advice and opinion as freely as his medicine.

For his pioneering efforts Dr. Beatty was made a life member of the Telephone Pioneers of America. Dr. Beatty died on Sept. 14th 1946, and his wife Sophia continued the system until her death in 1956 when it was sold to the neighboring Port Hope Telephone System based in Newtonville. This system was in turn sold to Bell Canada in 1967 bringing to an end the independent telephone in Hope Township.

The Port Hope and District Historical Society, with the assistance of the Ontario Heritage Foundation and Bell Canada, has placed a commemorative plaque to honour the accomplishments of Dr. Beatty at Dorothy’s House Museum in Garden Hill.

The 4th Line Theatre performed a play based on the Doctor’s life called Crow Hill which ran from July 2 to Aug. 3, 1997.

Operators of the Beatty Telephone System
- Garden Hill 1950's & 1960's -

Back Row (Left to Right): Ona Gardiner, Irene Plooard,
Mary Peters, Ora Gardiner
Front Row: Edith Curruthers