Born in Ireland in 1854, William Farrell has been credited as consolidating virtually all of the telephone interests throughout BC to create the foundation of the BC Telephone Company/TELUS as we know it today.
William Farrell moved to Vancouver with his wife Jessie Maude in 1891 as the first General Manger of the Yorkshire & Canadian Trust Ltd. for BC. With small private telephone exchanges springing up through BC in the early 1890’s Farrell took a large interest in the New Westminster & Burrard Inlet Telephone Company. Working with the owner he worked to amalgamate it with smaller companies eventually forming BC Telephone Company Limited in 1904. As president, William was the hand that guided BC Tel through the first 20 years initiating programs and balancing growth. Under his leadership, the company connected up the local exchanges in every community from Port Alberni to Victoria and Agassiz to Vancouver to create the telecommunications network we rely on today.
Under Farrell’s stewardship, during the First World War, Vancouver was the only city in the world that had virtually no wait time for service connection. In 1916 he was granted a charter by an act of the Federal Parliament for a new federally incorporated Western Canada Telephone Company and in the same year the first long distance call from Montreal was received personally by Farrell. Mr. Farrell also acquired and became president of Evans, Coleman and Evans which later became Ocean Cement.
Ever involved in civic and community enterprises he created and awarded a prize for the best plan for the new Vancouver Civic Centre and took a leadership role in the Victory Loan Campaign for the First World War. He built the Capilano Suspension Bridge’s Tea House and was part of the ownership group of Union Steamships.
William Farrell passed away in 1922 at age 68, but his descendants continue the tradition of playing leadership roles in business and community involvement throughout BC.