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Why Halifax needed two phone books in 1982

It's not that the population of Halifax doubled. But in 1982, the telephone company was distributing twice as many telephone books as it used to.  

More businesses, residents meant yellow and white pages each got their own volume

The new phone books were in, and there were too many pages for just one volume in 1982. 1:51

It's not that the population of Halifax doubled. But in 1982, the telephone company was distributing twice as many telephone books as it used to.  

CBC Halifax's Phil Forgeron took in the smell of hot ink to find out why. 

"They're rolling hot off the presses at Maritime Tel and Tel's print shop," he said in a report dated April 1, 1982.

"So new, there hasn't been a finger walk through them yet."

He was referring to a popular slogan for the Yellow Pages: Let Your Fingers do the Walking.

Growing business

Two workers take printed Yellow Pages books off the production line. (Newsday/CBC Archives)

The Maritime Telegraph and Telephone Company, or MT&T, ran its own plant for publishing the phone numbers of its residential and business telephone customers. 

But this year, the company was printing 265,000 copies, twice.

One run was for the white pages, an alphabetical list of residents, their addresses and phone numbers. Another was for the Yellow Pages, in which businesses paid to be listed, sometimes with larger display ads.

Previously, both directories had been bound together into a single volume.

"Each year we're adding new listings as new people move into the area, and each year ... the number of yellow page ads are growing," said an MT&T spokesman.

In a bind

"The equipment just will not handle putting everything in one book," said an unnamed spokesman. (Newsday/CBC Archives)

He said the overall size of the directory had "gone beyond our ability" to bind it. 

"The equipment just will not handle putting everything in one book," he said.

And the company thought two books were better than one.

"It will be ... more convenient for many of our customers to handle the smaller directory, or two smaller directories," said the spokesman.

'Best book buy'

Reporter Phil Forgeron displays the cover of the 1982 Halifax phone book. (Newsday/CBC Archives)

The cover of the white pages — a colourful nature scene — was new for 1982, suggested by Nova Scotia's provincial  art gallery.

And inside, telephone subscribers could find a "revamped index" and a blank lined page headed "Frequently called numbers" to write in digits for quick reference.  

It cost "more than $2 million" to print all the books, which Forgeron said worked out to about $4 each.

"And at .00 cents a copy, this is unquestionably the best book buy in town," he said.

"Bedford and Sackville, to the annoyance of some, is still listed separately," said the reporter. (Newsday/CBC Archives)