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History of the Atlantic Cable & Undersea Communications
from the first submarine cable of 1850 to the worldwide fiber optic network

Canadian Government Cables
by Bill Glover


Off the eastern seaboard of Canada there are many islands, a number of which have been joined by submarine telegraph and telephone cables. In addition a number of power cables have also been laid, one such system being between Vancouver Island and the mainland. This consisted of seven cables, five of which were laid by CS Ocean Layer in 1956 and the remaining two by HMTS Monarch (4) in 1958. All were manufactured by W.T. Glover & Company Ltd.

Another such scheme consisted of laying four power cables across the St. Lawrence River from Manicouagan to Petit Métis. Telcon manufactured the cables and chartered HMTS Monarch (4) to carry out the laying. They developed a number of faults and were eventually sold for scrap, the purchaser employing a retired cable ship captain to undertake recovery.


COTC was set up in 1950 to take over the Canadian assets of Cable & Wireless Ltd., and Canadian Marconi. These assets in Newfoundland had been taken over in 1949 when Newfoundland became part of the Canadian Federation. COTC subsequently changed its name to Teleglobe Canada and was privatised, becoming a subsidiary of Teleglobe Inc.

COTC has been involved in a number of major cable projects, owning a 9% stake in TAT 1; owners of CANTAT B; part owners of ICECAN; sole owners of the Port Alberni - Vancouver section of COMPAC. In 1971 it took part in a joint venture with Cable & Wireless in CANBER and again in 1974 with the GPO in CANTAT 2.



Built in 1871 by R. Thompson Ltd., Sunderland.

Length 206.4 ft. Breadth 29.1 ft. Depth 16.8 ft. Gross tonnage 785

Purchased by the Canadian Government in 1880 and fitted out for cable repair work. In service until 1900 when she ran aground off Digby, Nova Scotia.

Official Number 60459

Built in 1869 by R. Duncan & Company, Port Glasgow.

Length 237.5 ft. Breadth 30.2 ft. Depth 19.9 ft. Gross tonnage 1039

Purchased by the Canadian Government and fitted out for cable maintenance in 1902.

In September 1909 Tyrian, under Captain Dickson, carried "a score of reporters" waiting for news of Peary's Arctic Expedition of that year, and met Peary on his return [New York Times, 20 September 1909].

The ship remained in service until 1935, when she was broken up.

Site visitor Bill McDonald identifies the man third from the left in the back row as his great-grandfather, Alexander Bernard McDonald, who was chief electrical engineer.
One of the other officers in this photograph is Alexander Anderson, Engineer. If you can identify him or any of the other men in this photograph taken on board Tyrian (undated, but probably early 1900s), please email me


Built in 1902 by Fleming & Ferguson, Paisley.

Length 214.9 ft. Breadth 34.2 ft. Depth 17.2 ft. Gross tonnage 1051


Built in 1965 by Canadian Vickers, Montreal.

Length 313.25 ft. Breadth 60.25 ft. Draught 34.2 ft. Gross tonnage 5097.

Last revised: 23 September, 2016

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