20 Ladies Switching

CVA: Bu P498 - [The switchboards in the B.C. Telephone Company - 555 Seymour Street], ca 1907.

CVA: Bu P498 – [The switchboards in the B.C. Telephone Company – 555 Seymour Street], ca 1907.

There are some striking aspects to this image. First , most if not all of the switchboard operators appear to have longish hair that has been tied up  — surely this is not a coincidence; must have been corporate style code.

Second, the designer of this room either was not given a clue as to who would be working in it, or BC Tel didn’t give any forethought to what might be considered an optimum working environment for the operators. I am referring to the construction of the room-long switchboard in front of a wall of windows! The windows would certainly have been the source of natural light and (knowing early Vancouver windows) would probably also have allowed fresh air into a (presumably) stuffy/arid space.

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One Response to 20 Ladies Switching

  1. Lyndon says:

    Do you mean the switchboards blocking the windows behind them? From the shadows cast on the floor, there are obviously windows out-of-picture to the left, so it’s not exactly a dungeon.

    As for the very long row of operators, the nature of how switchboards operate makes this the most efficient configuration. If you could see the wiring on the back side of those consoles the issue would be apparent.

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