Victoria’s Chinatown is home to one of BC’s last public telephones |

When the Rogers network outage ground everything from banking to government services on Friday, millions of Canadians were left scrambling to find ways to connect to cell service and internet coverage.

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Fallout by Rogers Nationwide Network Outage

Fallout by Rogers Nationwide Network Outage

While pay phones did offer an option to make phone calls, there are very few left in BC

Global BC Legislative reporter Richard Zussman spotted a rare TELUS payphone on Fisgard Street in Victoria’s Chinatown, where, on Saturday, some passersby told Global News it unhooked childhood memories.

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“I used to make a phone call for a dime on the end of a fishing line, and you could pull it out and make repeat phone calls,” recalled one man, who said he was unable to take advantage during the Rogers collapse. because he had no change.

Bell Canada and TELUS payphones have been in decline for decades.

TELUS had 38,000 payphones in BC and Alberta in 1999.

By 2011, that number had dropped to 18,000.

Read more:

End of an era: St. Albert’s last public phone to be removed

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When wireless growth skyrocketed a decade ago, Bell Canada wanted to increase the price of a pay phone call in BC from $0.50 to $1.00.

Today, Bell Canada told Global News that it has no pay phones in BC

TELUS said it currently has about 800 active payphones in BC, mostly in transportation hubs, hospitals, prisons, and some corner stores.

TELUS did not provide the exact locations of its last public phones.

A Global News viewer sent in a photo of the

A Global News viewer submitted a photo of the “last phone booth” in Stewart, BC

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Between July 2019 and September 2021, homeless blogger Stanley Q. Woodvine mapped a list of 63 working pay phones in Metro Vancouver — including 41 in the city of Vancouver.

Woodvine understands that some of his research will now be out of date, but he said the vast majority were found inside publicly accessible buildings where payphones were protected from vandalism and regularly disinfected.

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Other locations included lobbies of office buildings, hospitals, hotels, public libraries, SkyTrain stations, shopping malls and at least one laundromat, according to Woodvine.

He believes there should be a commitment to maintaining a thin network of easy-to-find landline payphones within publicly accessible buildings such as libraries, community centers, hospitals and shopping malls.

“Just as Morse code and shortwave radio are still considered valuable alternative communication methods in disaster situations, the pay phone should survive to serve during our inevitable individual emergencies and, hopefully, much rarer national network outages.” Woodvine told Global News.

Read more:

Rogers says wireless services restored for “vast majority” as blackout drags on

Many of the remaining payphones, including an FSH-brand phone booth outside Hasty Market on Main Street at 16theAvenue in Vancouver, I’ve seen better days.

According to a press release, independent US telecommunications company and public telephone service provider WiMacTel purchased public telephone assets from FSH Communications in November 2013.

At that time, more than 8,000 FSH public phones were to operate under the WiMacTel brand and be located in major airports, government offices, convenience stores, gas stations, restaurants, shopping malls, and apartment buildings.

An FSH payphone outside Hasty Market on Main Street at 16th Avenue on Sat. July 9, 2022.

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It’s unclear how long the battered FSH payphone has been sitting outside the Vancouver convenience store, or if it’s working properly.

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TELUS’ public phone in Victoria’s Chinatown makes calls, but a second on Fisgard Street, a block away, appeared to be broken.

The Vancouver Public Library Central Branch had a pay phone on its fifth floor as of July 2019, but staff said it has since been removed.

The Greater Victoria Public Library on Broughton Street has two payphones, while a TELUS payphone in the lobby of the Royal BC Museum may one day join the exhibits.

© 2022 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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