Winnipeggers call 999 for help
If the telephone wasn't born in Canada, it was certainly conceived here. In 1874, in Brantford, Ont., inventor Alexander Graham Bell first described the scientific principle that would convey the human voice over wires. By the Second World War, Canadians led the world in talking by telephone. Later they reached out to each other and around the globe with long distance calling, transatlantic connections and predictions for the future.
• Winnipeg's 999 service, introduced in 1959, was a forerunner to 911 service in centres across North America.
• According to the website of the Winnipeg Police Service, then-mayor Stephen Juba was the driving force behind the introduction of 999 service.
• When 999 service began, the Winnipeg police force hired eight women as operators. At least three operators were later promoted to the rank of policewoman.
• Winnipeg's 999 emergency number was changed to 911 in 1972.
• In the United States, 911 service began in Alabama in 1968 and spread to the rest of the country by 1973.
• Bell Canada introduced 911 service in London, Ont. in 1974.
• It's not known why the numbers 9-1-1 were chosen for emergency service in North America. Theories are that it was based on the United Kingdom's 9-9-9, substituting two 1's because they were faster to dial on a rotary phone.
• Prince Edward Island was the last province to get 911 service in 2000.
• As of 2003, many jurisdictions in Canada do not have 911 service. Residents have to dial a local number for police, fire or ambulance service.
Program: Eye to Eye
Broadcast Date: Dec. 8, 1959
Guest(s): A.E. Bennett
Reporter: Harvey Dawes
Last updated: February 6, 2013
Page consulted on February 6, 2013
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