The Corner Phone Booth

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Kristian Gravenor is building himself a reputation as Montreal’s foremost expert on phone booths. He explored their history in Montreal in a recent Gazette article, from the first wooden booths installed in hotel lobbies (“Each wooden telephone booth looked like a confessional, your very own downtown cabin — as they say in French — where you could blab all day for just a few cents”) and on city streets.

News of the phone booth’s decline has made it into just about every North American publication at some point or another, but Montreal, which has one of the lowest rates of mobile phone use in Canada, has been slow to shed many of its booths. You can still find a few near most major corners, despite mayor Jean Drapeau’s attempt in the 1970s to rid the city streets of payphones, along with newspaper boxes and mailboxes.

My own corner phone booth stands near Park and Bernard. Back before I had a cell phone, it was a convenient place from which to call when the power was out, or when I failed to pay the phone bill and Bell cut off my service. Ever since Bell raised payphone rates to 50 cents per call, though, there hasn’t been much point in using it. In fact, when I pass by, the only people who seem to use it come from the adjacent “massage” parlour, which is open until 4am daily and employs masseuses who seem to work only in bra and panties.

This entry was written by Christopher DeWolf , posted on Friday August 22 2008at 11:08 pm , filed under Canada, Heritage and Preservation, Society and Culture and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink . Post a comment below or leave a trackback: Trackback URL.

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