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Telephone Exchange Prefix Names

March 21, 2012

Brownsville was the historic site of the first telegraph message transmitted in British Columbia over the wire of the international telegraph line when the cable of the California State Telegraph Company was laid across the Fraser River in March 1865.   And when the telephone came into use in the Lower Mainland, the first in operation on the south side of the river was also at Brownsville, connecting with the city opposite.   So, it  is natural that the telephone numbers here first belonged to the New Westminster telephone exchange.

Up until the 1960’s the telephone exchanges took the form of names, with the first two letters forming an abbreviation.
Hence the prefix for the J Leckie Co Tannery (see previous post) was LAkeview .
People commonly spoke the full prefix name or the abbreviation – such as LA 1 -.
J Leckie Tannery directory address

J Leckie Co –  directory address and phone number

Numbers close to the river in Brownsville and Timberland began with LA 1 or LA 2.

Back of the river on the uplands the telephone exchange was WOodland.

Both of these exchanges belonged to a calling area that was part of the Vancouver Extended Area Service Plan.

The map below is useful for identifying the location of a number even without an address, as in those days it was not possible to “take your number with you” to a different area. Bear in mind that some  exchanges overlapped municipal boundaries.

Vancouver Area Telephone Exchange Name Prefix Map – 1960’s

The Prefix Map includes the following exchanges by neighbourhood.

Area Telephone Exchange Prefix Name
North Shore WEstmore
Vancouver downtown MUtual
Vancouver west side CAstle
Vancouver central TRinity
Vancouver east side – Burnaby ALpine
Coquitlam WEbster
Port Coquitlam WHitehall
New Westminster – Brownsville LAkeview
North Surrey WOodland
Richmond CRestwood


Telephone Exchange Map

Vancouver Extended Area Service Plan Map of Telephone Exchanges

Phone Number Prefixes in use until the 1960’s


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