Growing Up In Ville Lasalle, Quebec (1950s/60s)
This vintage black and white postcard of the Mercier Bridge Cabins (Villa du Pont Mercier), first caught my eye because I grew up in the Montreal suburb of Ville Lasalle – and because of the odd telephone number (ELwood 0148) in the top right hand corner.
My family moved to Ville Lasalle in the late 1950s. It was still relatively undeveloped. There was no Lasalle Hospital, Civic Centre or high school! As a matter of fact it was a few years before the first big department stores opened. It was quite an adjustment for us to leave a third floor walkup in a French-speaking, Catholic neighbourhood of Verdun and settle down in a modern little bungalow in the predominantly English-speaking, Protestant neighbourhood of Riverside Park but many young families were making the move because it seemed to be a great place to raise children!
One of the first things my parents did when we first arrived was to teach me and my sister our new telephone number – Dominic6 – 7025. The prefix made it easier for us to remember the number and it also instantly told you where someone lived. I remember that my friends in Verdun had the prefix POntiac. The prefix was always a word based on two letters of the rotary dial – in my case DO stood for the numbers 36.I found a great online resource about heritage telephone numbers and in a section called Montreal telephone exchange geography it says that DOminic was in use from 1959 until the early sixties. The ELwood prefix on the postcard was used between1925 and 1958. Today I live in Chateauguay so out of curiosity I also checked out our original prefix. It turns out it was OXford – so now I know why Chateauguay has a taxi-cab company called Oxford!
Nowadays telephone numbers – like so much else – have changed. First, the letter prefixes are no longer used. Second, the numerical 3-digit number no longer refers only to a specific geographical area. And third, we now have to dial an extra 3-digit regional number in front of our traditional 7 digit number.
In the case of telephone numbers, more modern is not necessarily better!
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Comments From Readers
Several readers have mentioned in the comment boxes below that they remember the the old telephone numbers with prefixes – which tells me that this must have been a North America wide coding system – and a few actually remembered their prefix:
Sheila (A Postcard A Day)
ROpley 3656 was our number for 20 years. During that time it changed twice – the Ropley part was changed to 77 and shared by other villages. It’s uniqueness had gone, so the area code came in without a murmur on my part
AnitaNH (Collage & Life)
Happy PPF from New Hampshire! My grandmother was born in Quebec and moved to Salem, Mass. I still remember her phone number: PIoneer-4-4758. Thanks for bringing back memories.
Viridian (Viridian’s Postcard Blog)
I barely remember the letter prefixes but my mom does. The NYC TV station commercials sometimes gave the company’s phone # as MUrray Hill X-XXXX. If you like Glenn Miller’s songs, then you know one – PEnnsylvania 6-5000!”