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The Canada Day phone call that changed our country

June 30, 2020


Up until June 30, 1985, a Canadian phone call required a long curly cord tethered to the wall.  And it was fine. It was functional.  It was what we knew.  But on this day 35 years ago, a historical moment took place that would not only change our relationship with the phone forever, but also change the way we connect to each other and the world in ways we never could have imagined.

On July 1, 1985, in Toronto’s Nathan Philips Square, then-mayor of Toronto Art Eggleton made the first cellular call across the Cantel system to Montreal mayor Jean Drapeau.  It was the first cellular call in Canada and it only lasted a few minutes, but it would forever alter how Canadians connect to what matters most. 

The first cell phones were very different than the ones we know today. They were not only more expensive than today’s top models, but they were also the size and weight of a brick; and they required a briefcase-sized battery to function that you would carry on your shoulder!  At first, they were more novelty than necessity. But Ted Rogers envisioned a future where this new technology would change the way we live – and he was right.

One of the greatest innovations of the last 100 years, wireless has become a vital lifeline for Canadians and the world.  Since that first call 35 years ago, Rogers has continued to lead, innovate, and invest in the technologies and networks to make Canada stronger.  And as we continue to launch Canada’s first 5G network in communities across the country, our investments are laying the foundation of our future – now more than ever.

Today, the most powerful wireless connections aren’t phone calls between two Canadian mayors.  It’s a text to let a loved one know you are safeIt’s a moment of FaceTime peek-a-boo when, for a just a moment, a doctor can simply be a mom.  Our legacy of connecting Canadians to what’s important is stronger than ever, and through our national partnerships, we are helping connect those who need it most.  We extended WIFI coverage in hospitals and have supported Women’s Shelters Canada by donating phones and wireless services to help connect women to the urgent help they need  We partnered with Big Brothers Big Sisters Canada to provide devices and plans to help keep the relationships between the “littles” and “bigs” strong during these unsettling times apart.  And because no one should be isolated from critical support services, we partnered with PFLAG to support their work with LGBTQ2+ communities to ensure that every chapter has the devices and connectivity they need to continue their vital work for Canadians across the country.

On Canada Day, a day we celebrate who we are and what we can do when we come together, we remember that first call — and honour our commitment to be there, on the other end of the line, when Canadians need us.