On September 24, 1901, the completion of the Yukon Telegraph line connecting Vancouver to Dawson City forever changed the relationship between the remote Canadian North and the outside world. "Time and space are annihilated," Yukon Commissioner William Ogilvie wrote to Ottawa in one of the first messages transmitted over the new telegraph. "We are of the world now."
More than 50 years ago, the company that eventually became Northwestel inherited the responsibility for adding to the North's early telecommunications milestones. In 1947, at the end of World War II, the federal government contracted Canadian National Telegraphs (CNT) to maintain and operate the landline telephone network installed during the construction of the Alaska Highway.
In the decades that followed, CNT brought new or improved local and long distance telephone service to a much larger area of the North, including the Northwest Territories and Northern British Columbia. It accomplished this through a pioneering spirit and the adaptation of innovative technologies to the North's uncompromising environment. Steadily, the company laid the groundwork for a modern network capable of transporting and switching a growing volume of sophisticated telecommunications traffic.
Northwestel was incorporated as a company on January 1, 1979, after CNT became a wholly-owned subsidiary of Canadian National (CN). Northwestel's continued tradition of excellence resulted in its sale to Bell Canada Enterprises (BCE) in 1988. With the acquisition of Bell Canada's eastern Arctic operations four years later, Northwestel became the sole telecommunications supplier North of the 60th parallel- an area nearly half the size of the entire country. Ownership of Northwestel was transferred from BCE to Bell Canada in 1999.
As the first and only northern-based company to provide telecommunications across the North, our company sees a future where we will progressively build upon a legacy of achievement. Northwestel believes that all northerners should have the opportunity to take full advantage of the digital age with reliable, high-quality links to family, friends and information around the world.