Blackville Exchange

Previous to 1800, settlers around the mouth of the Miramichi River began to move back into the banks of the river. The first settlers along the Miramichi were chiefly of Scotch origin. By 1801 many loyalists from settlements on the St. John River also found their way as far up the Miramichi as Blackville while small settlements of Irish immigrants sprang up at the mouth of its small tributaries and the Parish of Blackville was established in 1830 with the village of Blackville the chief trading center. It was at Blackville that some of the largest saw mills were established and for many years this community was a prosperous lumber and trading center.

As early as 1889, Dr. F. L. Pedolin, formerly a physician at Blackville became interested in telephone development and he, along with others, purchased the Newcastle telephone exchange from the Miramichi Telephone Company which at this time was doing business in Chatham and Newcastle. One of the first moves of the Newcastle Company was to build a line from Newcastle to Red Bank to Blackville.

In 1899 the New Brunswick Telephone Company’s toll line from Fredericton to Newcastle was erected and a toll station installed in the store at B. Donald’s in Upper Blackville. Mr. Donald became the Company’s local manager. Shortly before this date, W. C. Cumming operated an exchange in Doaktown and extended the line from Doaktown to Upper Blackville. This line was later purchased by Dr. Weir of Doaktown.

In 1907, G. M. Grindlay, editor and proprietor of Blackville Printing, installed a telephone system in Blackville with some 20 odd subscribers. The Grindlay exchange extended from Upper Blackville to Renous Bridge with several spur lines and connected with the New Brunswick Telephone Company’s toll line at Morehouse Siding. The exchange was situated in what was known as “Grindlay Store Building” and Miss Jennie Bean, eldest daughter of Simon Bean, was the first operator. Upon the death of G. M. Grindlay, Simon Bean became the administrator of his estate and the telephone exchange was moved to a store occupied by Mrs. James Bean, mother of Simon Bean, situated on the opposite side of the road from the present location.

In 1913, Simon Bean sold the Grindlay telephone exchange to the New Brunswick Telephone Company. The Company’s exchange was installed in Mr. Simon Bean’s residence. Mr. Bean became the company’s agent. The original number of subscribers was 44. The exchange remained in this location.

Mr. Simon Bean, who for many years had been prominent in the affairs of Blackville died in 1943 and his daughter, Miss Beatrice Bean, took over the agency. Mrs. Simon Bean, who with the assistance of her daughters, had operated the Blackville Exchange ever since its installation in 1913.

Mrs. Simon Bean died in 1977 at the age of 99.

< Back to Main History