Toronto telephone exchanges



The history of the telephone exchange names in the two largest cities in Canada resembles that in most significant United States cities, as it can be divided into three periods:

  1. The pre-dial period, which for the purposes of this site extends to 1923, when all telephone calls were completed by manual action by operators (Not all exchanges in Toronto were changed to dial at this time, but as long as any exchanges were dial, the requirements for dial exchanges applied), and there were no constraints on exchange names other than that there was no likelihood of confusion when a customer gave the name to the operator,
  2. The early dial period, beginning with 1923, in which the Toronto telephone numbers were set up to accommodate dialing the first two letters of an exchange name followed by a four-digit number designating the individual line, though in fact not all exchanges provided for dialing by the phones in those exchanges, and
  3. The late dial period, whose beginning in Toronto was not at a sharp point in time but extended from 1951 to 1958, in which, instead of the first two letters of an exchange name alone, one dialed the first two letters and an "office numeral" (This was the terminology used in an early New York City directory, though it was not common terminology in this period), again followed by four digits designating the individual line.

While the transition from the early to the late dial period extending over several years is unusual, a similar piecewise process was followed in Montreal and in a number of United States cities, such as Atlanta, Georgia, in the Los Angeles, California metropolitan area, and in New Orleans, Louisiana.

Toronto, Ontario, Canada:
Main Toronto page
Chronological periods of the Toronto data:
Pre-dial period Early dial period Late dial period


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Last modified September 12, 2015.

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