Photographs of
Commercial Cable Company
Telegraph Office

Brick building

Hazel Hill
Guysborough County
Nova Scotia

Located on the north side of Highway 16
at the Tickle Road intersection

GPS location:   45°19'38"N   61°01'44"W

Commercial Cable Trans Atlantic municipal park

Commercial Cable Company
J.W. Mackay and J.G. Bennett

The Commercial Cable Company was incorporated in New York in 1883 by two wealthy men, J.W. Mackay and J.G. Bennett.

James Gordon Bennett (1841-1918) (the younger) was the owner of the New York Herald newspaper, having inherited it from his father James Gordon Bennett (the elder).

John William Mackay (1831-1902) had made a fortune in mining after emigrating in 1840 to the United States from Ireland; in 1859 he joined the rush to Nevada, where silver had been discovered.  Mackay and J.G. Fair, later joined by William Shoney O'Brien and J.C. Flood, acquired control of valuable silver mines, which yielded them great fortunes.

Bennett and Mackay both used telegrams extensively in their businesses.  They decided to go into the electric telegraph business in competition with the Anglo-American Company and others, which at that time had formed a syndicate known as "The Pool" that had a near monopoly of transatlantic telegram traffic, thus being able to keep telegraph rates high and profits large.

Bennett and Mackay agreed to work together to found a new transatlantic telegraph company in 1883.  The Commercial Cable Company quickly laid two submarine (underwater) telegraph cables from Europe, landing the North American ends at Hazel Hill, near Canso, Nova Scotia. To maintain these cables the company kept a specially-designed cable ship, the Mackay-Bennett, at Halifax, ready to go to sea at any time on short notice if a cable failed.

In the 1890s, and continuing into the 1920s, the newspapers of the day often referred to the Commercial Cable Company's telegraph system as the "Mackay and Bennett Cable."  This was a convenient way to identify with clarity – for the general public that might not be fully conversant with the intricate details of the ownership of the various and numerous telecommunications companies – which telegraph system was meant.

Beginning in 1885, the "Mackay and Bennett Cable" was the main transatlantic competitor of the "Field Cable", the owner and operator of the original transatlantic telegraph cables beginning in 1866.

Cablegram   vs.   Telegram

A "cablegram" is the same as a "telegram" — both terms
refer to a written message sent by electric telegraph.

The term "cablegram" was used by companies such as the
Commercial Cable Company and the Direct United States
Cable Company, that had the word "cable" in their corporate
names.  They were telecommunications companies exactly
like other telecommunications companies of that time
with "telegraph" in their names, such as the Anglo-American
Telegraph Company and the Western Union Telegraph Company.

Commercial Cable and Direct United States Cable preferred
not to use the term "telegram" in their advertising, because
that tended to remind their potential customers that certain
other companies, such as Western Union Telegraph or
Anglo-American Telegraph, offered exactly the same service
(delivering a written message quickly by electric telegraph
to faraway places).

The word "cablegram" rarely (never) appeared in advertising by
any company with "telegraph" in its name.

The word "telegram" rarely (never) appeared in advertising by
any company with "cable" in its name.

From the customer's point of view, there was no difference
between a cablegram and a telegram.  Many people used the
terms interchangeably – a reasonable practice because in fact
they conveyed the same meaning.  For example, in movies
made in the 1930s we sometimes hear characters say
something like: "Send a cable immediately," or "I got a cable
this morning", using "cable" as a short form of "cablegram,"
meaning a telegram.  This was a generally-understood usage
of the time.

"Upon their arrival overseas (during World War Two), soldiers
were permitted to send cable messages back home to advise
of their safe arrival – the messages were censored to make
certain that no place name was revealed."
The Advertiser, Kentville, Nova Scotia
24 September 2002

Here, "cable messages" simply means telegrams.

Links to Relevant Websites
Commercial Cable Company

History of the Commercial Cable Company

The White Family Archive
George White, the last General Manager of Commercial Cable Company
in the UK, had his 100th birthday in November 2004.

History of the Commercial Cable Company

Maps showing Transatlantic Telegraph Cable Routes
These are excellent maps but the online version does not work
in many browsers, such as Firefox, Safari and Opera.
They do work in IE5.  Netscape maybe.

Pacific Postal Telegraph Cable Company
The history of the Pacific Postal Telegraph Cable Company is simple.
When Mr. John W. Mackay, the famous Bonanza millionaire,
and Mr. James Gordon Bennett, of the New York Herald, associated
themselves together for the purpose of building the "Commercial" cable
across the Atlantic, they readily recognized the fact that the
"Field" cable was operated in conjunction with the Western Union lines,
and that a rival cable must be fed by friendly inland lines...
San Francisco News Letter and California Advertiser
19 February 1887

Commercial Cable Rehabilitation Society
incorporated 22 March 2005 in Nova Scotia
(this website uses popup ads, and breaks your browser's Back button)

Telegraph Technology

Telegraphy by Wikipedia

Underwater Telegraph Cables photographs of actual cables
website by Tom Perera

1998 Diving Expedition to Recover Early Underwater Telegraph Cables
website by Tom Perera

Telegraphic Codes and Message Practice, 1870-1945
website by John McVey

Photographs of War Memorials, Historic Monuments and Plaques in Nova Scotia

Commercial Cable Trans Atlantic Park Hazel Hill

Grassy Island historic site Grassy Island historic site, 1744 Canso Harbour

Captain Savalette plaque Captain Savalette plaque, 1565 Charlos Cove

Charlos Cove historical plaque Charlos Cove historical plaque, 1763 Charlos Cove

Charlos Cove war memorial Charlos Cove war memorial Charlos Cove

Goldboro war memorial Goldboro war memorial Goldboro

New Harbour war memorial New Harbour war memorial New Harbour

Sherbrooke Presbyterian Church honour roll Presbyterian Church honour roll Sherbrooke

St. Mary's Municipality war memorial St. Mary's Municipality war memorial Sherbrooke

Spanish Ship Bay war memorial Spanish Ship Bay war memorial Spanish Ship Bay

D'Escousse war memorial D'Escousse war memorial D'Escousse

Colin Chisholm Park Colin Chisholm Park Antigonish

Stellarton: Sobeys Industrial Monument Sobeys Industrial Monument Stellarton

Trenton: Workers Monument Workers Monument Trenton

Sampsonville centennial plaque Samsonville centennial plaque Sampsonville

Moose River Gold Mine Moose River Gold Mine collapse Moose River Gold Mines

Go To:   History of Telephone Companies in Nova Scotia

Go To:   History of Railway Companies in Nova Scotia

Go To:   History of Electric Companies in Nova Scotia

Go To:   History of Automobiles in Nova Scotia

Go To:   Nova Scotia Quotations

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First uploaded to the WWW:   2005 July 27
New photographs installed:   2005 August 01
Guysborough Journal clipping added:   2005 August 25
New photographs installed:   2005 August 30