MacKay an American financier who made his fortune from silver mines used telegrams extensively in his business. Bennett a newspaper man and owner of the New York Herald wanted to circulate his papers throughout Europe. So in 1883 MacKay joined forces with Bennett in founding the Commercial Cable Company.
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The foundations of affordable modern communication between mainland North America, Europe and the rest of the world were laid in the 1880s when Trans-Atlantic submarine cable services were established between Europe and Eastern Guysborough County, Nova Scotia, breaking the cable monopoly of Anglo-American Telegraph Company operating from Newfoundland.
In 1883 John William MacKay (1831-1902), an American financier who made his fortune from silver mines, joined forces with James Gordon Bennett (1841-1918) in the founding of the Commercial Cable Company.
Bennett was the aggressive publisher and proprietor of the New York Herald, a newspaper prominent in publishing international stories. To build his publishing empire, Bennett employed state-of-the-art technology to increase his circulation. Breaking the cable monopoly of the Anglo-American Telegraph Company and bringing prices down for Bennett's newspapers was a primary reason for the partnership with MacKay.
The partnership between MacKay and Bennett became the Commercial Cable Company. The partners selected Dover Bay, Guysborough County for the cable landing site and Hazel Hill for their base of operation. Their first transatlantic cable from Canso to Waterville, Ireland was laid in 1884.
The cable was landed in Fox Island and went across the peninsula via a series of lakes to Dover Bay. The lakes were used to lay cable (this decreased the amount of labour required to dig trenches for laying of cable). Hazel Hill was central to the lakes, Fox Island and Dover Bay and was chosen for that reason.
The laying of Commercial Cable’s first cable by the ship Faraday broke the cable-laying speed record in July 1884 by laying the newest Atlantic cable in 12 days. Eventually Commercial Cable expanded to include its own cable laying and maintenance ships such as the MacKay - Bennett (which was engaged by White Star Lines to recover bodies from the Titanic disaster) and the John W. MacKay. By 1923 they had six cables and the transatlantic cables communicated with the continent of Europe via Waterville and Le Havre.
Almost all cable operators were rigidly trained in England and virtually all cable office instruments were the production of English inventors or scientists. (The company was owned by Americans, the operators were English; and I thought the technology was German – the cable (Siemens) was for sure). The Creed Automatic Printing Device, an instrument used in nearly every cable office in the world, was invented by Frederick Creed, a native of Nova Scotia (Scotia not Scotian) who, for several years, lived in Canso.
Commercial Cable was sold to International Telegraph and Telephone (ITT) in 1927 which, in turn, was acquired by Western Union in 1988. The Canso Station ceased operations in 1962, marking the end of an era and contributed to the decline of the Hazel Hill - Canso economy.