Cable build­ing com­mem­o­rated

Plague un­veiled to rec­og­nize na­tional his­toric sig­nif­i­cance of Bay Roberts struc­ture

The Compass - - SPORTS -

The Cable Build­ing Build­ing in Bay Roberts has been rec­og­nized by the His­toric Sites and Mon­u­ments Board of Canada as an “im­por­tant key­sto­neof transat­lantic com­mu­ni­ca­tions.”

On Aug. 2, a plaque was un­veiled at the site com­mem­o­rat­ing the na­tional his­tor­i­cal sig­nif­i­cance of the build­ing, which is now home to the Bay Roberts Town Hall, the Road to Yes­ter­day Mu­seum and the Christo­pher Pratt Art Gallery.

The plaque was un­veiled by London West MP Ed Holder, on be­half of Jim Pren­tice, Min­is­ter of the En­vi­ron­ment and Min­is­ter re­spon­si­ble for Parks Canada.

“I am pleased to rec­og­nize the na­tional his­tor­i­cal sig­nif­i­cance of the Cable Build­ing in Bay Roberts, as an im­por­tant key­stone of transat­lantic com­mu­ni­ca­tions and for its di­rect af­fir­ma­tion of the im­pact of the

tele­graph in­dus­try in the 20th cen­tury,” said Mr. Holder. “ The Cable Build­ing holds an im­por­tant role in the devel­op­ment of the Western Union Tele­graph Com­pany net­work, a telecom­mu­ni­ca­tions gi­ant, and tele­graph tech­nolo­gies in New­found­land.”

Built in 1913, the Cable Build­ing in­tro­duced to New­found­land a new type of tele­graph sta­tion that was more func­tional and highly spe­cial­ized, Holder ex­plained. The Cable Build­ing’s neo­clas­si­cal de­sign, open and spa­cious in­te­rior, and state-ofthee­quip­ment for the time made it an im­por­tant key­stone of transat­lantic com­mu­ni­ca­tions.

With its con­nec­tion to the Western Union Tele­graph Com­pany, which oc­cu­pied the build­ing from its con­cep­tion to the 1960s, the Cable Build­ing is sym­bolic of change in the Town of Bay Roberts.

This site also played an im­por­tant role dur­ing the Sec­ond World War. De­fended by three na­tions — Canada, United States and New­found­land — it car­ried com­mu­ni­ca­tions be­tween Bri­tain and her North Amer­i­can Al­lies, and housed a pri­vate line es­tab­lished be­tween Franklin D. Roo­sevelt and Sir Win­ston Churchill.

“ The role of the Cable Build­ing … shapes an in­spir­ing story, de­serv­ing of be­ing shared and re­mem­bered by all Cana­di­ans.” said Pren­tice.

Ac­cord­ing to a news re­lease is­sued by the board, the build­ing’s con­struc­tion “rep­re­sents the cor­po­rate en­tity that dom­i­nated the transat­lantic tele­graph in­dus­try from 1912 to the 1960s. Its de­sign is a strong cor­po­rate sym­bol of the telecom­mu­ni­ca­tions gi­ant and a di­rect af­fir­ma­tion of the im­pact of the tele­graph in­dus­try in the 20th cen­tury.

“It was a flag­ship of tele­graph tech­nolo­gies, il­lus­trat­ing Western Union’s im­por­tant role as an in­no­va­tive in­dus­try leader.”

Un­til the mid-19th cen­tury, ships took at least 10 days to trans­port in­for­ma­tion across the At­lantic. The lay­ing of transat­lantic ca­bles in the 19th and 20th cen­turies rev­o­lu­tion­ized world­wide com­mu­ni­ca­tions.

Sev­eral com­pa­nies com­peted for supremacy in the early years of cable com­mu­ni­ca­tions, but soon af­ter New­found­land (lo­cated at the point of North Amer­ica clos­est to Europe) opened its ter­ri­tory to com­mer­cial com­pe­ti­tion, Western Union dom­i­nated the in­dus­try.

In 1910, Western Union laid a cable from Bay Roberts to Eng­land, and in 1913 the com­pany had the Cable Build­ing erected to house the New­found­land in­stal­la­tions. Dur­ing both World Wars, the Bay Roberts sta­tion played a crit­i­cal role in the se­cure re­lay­ing of in­for­ma­tion so vi­tal for the war ef­fort.

This sta­tion was at the fore­front of tech­ni­cal in­no­va­tions, un­til it was made re­dun­dant by the supremacy of the tele­phone. It closed in 1960.

The build­ing was de­signed by the New York firm of McKenzie, Voorhee and Gmelin, and is an em­blem of con­tem­po­rary cor­po­rate ar­chi­tec­ture.

Its spe­cial­ized in­te­rior lay­out in­cluded ar­eas for equip­ment, ad­min­is­tra­tion, tech­ni­cal op­er­a­tions and other uses. Cer­tain in­te­rior spa­ces have re­mained in­tact, al­though the equip­ment is no longer in place.

Cre­ated in 1919, the His­toric Sites and Mon­u­ments Board of Canada ad­vises the Min­is­ter of the En­vi­ron­ment re­gard­ing the na­tional his­toric sig­nif­i­cance of places, peo­ple and events that have marked Canada’s his­tory.

Parks Canada man­ages a na­tion­wide net­work of na­tional his­toric sites that make up the rich ta­pes­try of Canada’s cul­tural her­itage and which of­fers vis­i­tors the op­por­tu­nity for real and in­spir­ing dis­cov­er­ies.

A plaque was un­veiled Aug. 2com­mem­o­rat­ing the na­tional his­tor­i­cal sig­nif­i­cance of the Bay Roberts Cable Build­ing.

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