Canadian Keys

Canada produced some very interesting straight keys, notably some exquisite camelback style keys. At first glance, one might think they date back to the dawn of telegraph but in fact they probably date to the 1860's & 1870's.

The first telegraph instruments in Canada were from The Montreal Telegraph Co (M.T. Co.), although they did not make most of their own telegraph instruments. They were supplied by SW Chubbuck from Utica, New York. Keys by Montreal Telegraph Co. were sometimes stamped with "M.T. Co." but many times there are no markings at all.

In 1868, Dominion Telegraph Co. was formed and quickly became a competitor with Montreal Telegraph. As with M.T. Co. instruments, sometimes they are marked with the Dominion name, sometimes not.

Then in 1880, The Great Northwest Telegraph Company of Canada was formed. Their instruments were often stamped with "G.N.W." Not long after they were founded, GNW merged with Dominion Telegraph.

(Click on the pictures below to see larger versions of the photo)


A nice example of an early Canadian camelback key. Maker unknown, possibly Montreal Telegraph, which means it might have been made by SW Chubbuck, Utica, NY.



Another early camelback key, with legs intact.



An early Canadian straight lever key. Note the absence of a spring tension adjustment



Early straight lever key by Montreal Telegraph Co. (M.T. Co.)



An early Canadian straight key and relay. Maker Unknown



A later version of a Canadian straight lever key. Has a spring tension adjustment. Marked G.T.R. (Grand Trunk Railway)



Step-lever key, marked G.N.W. (Great Northwest Telegraph Co)



An unmarked step-lever key, possibly made by Foster, Toronto



Canadian postal key by Foster, Toronto.



Canadian camelback key by NW Telegraph Co.



Unknown key, believed to be Canadian, due to the left-side circuit closer. Has an unusual wire attachment arrangement. Maker unknown.



Royal Canadian Air Force Key, type 10A/556



A British style WT-8Amp military key made by the Canadian company Westclox



Canadian Navy Key



Canadian radio key by Grimmer-Wilson.