This Day in History

October 3, 2010 on 6:37 pm by Michael Grey | In Photographs, Random Thoughts, Stories, Tips | 3 Comments

I don’t think many know that on this day, in 1927, Canadian Prime Minister, William Lyon Mackenzie King, made the first trans-Atlantic telephone call to the UK. He apparently chatted with British Prime Minister Stanley Baldwin. Maybe they chatted about King’s séances where he’d talk to his dead mum or maybe, they talked of that year’s Oban gold medal winner, John Wilson – or maybe not [you have to give me points for the segue to the bonus super piping trivia].

So. I stumbled on this fascinating(ish) fact today and it got me to thinking how seriously lucky we are today to communicate so easily and over honkingly great distances, too.

I remember, a couple of years back, standing on at the side of Loch Langass in North Uist and sending and receiving BlackBerry messages. There I was, standing on a pretty great example of desolate landscape, a heap of land in the midst of the North Atlantic, and still, there I was, in “real-time” contact with most of the rest of the world. That’s amazing. Really.

Think about it: it wasn’t until 1956 that direct overseas dialling came to be [think, too, on that “dialling” point, how many of us are now adults and have never “dialled” a phone]. Until 1956, all overseas calls were operator-assisted [and more piping trivia: D R MacLennan, half-brother to George Stewart, won the Oban medal, that year, in 1956, his double gold medal year].

Technology has brought most all of us so much closer together and I have to think it’s a really good thing. I guess, how close is too close, too much, is maybe a thought for another day.

Just a reflective thought for a really lazy Sunday afternoon.



  1. A little futher to your statement “never dialed a phone”. With the new digital phones with unlimited long distance, many kids (mine!), have no idea what long distance even is. I have a cell bill to prove that fact.

    I also remember, as a young guy heading overseas, my mom instructing me how to make an overseas long distance call.

    Imagine what the technology changes will be 40 years from now? The BB from the middle of the Atlantic will be considered old school!

    John (through Lori’s account, because he cannot remember his username! Duh!)

    Comment by piperlori — October 3, 2010 #

  2. Well, I was tempted to be a smart-@#$ and suggest that maybe when you are experiencing such a gorgeous scene, you should turn off your Blackberry and get your feet on the ground. And then I thought about the time three or four years ago when, on the last day of our month in Scotland, we randomly decided to drive to Skye, and since we got there early and it was a great day, we drove all way to Boreraig, and walked past the coos, over the fences, and up to see the MacCrimmon Cairn. It was a very cool moment for us all, and especially for Eilidh, who was starting to get really interested in piobaireachd, and who found it ultra inspiring to be there. And as we walked back to the car, I remembered how my Mom had brought ME there in 1973, for the same reason, and how it was even more of a sacrifice for her, because she hated heights and mountain roads. I was remembering how great it had been for me, and I knew I had to call her. So I did. On my £30 Tesco phone, I direct dialled to Regina from the hillside at Boreraig, so that I could properly thank her for that experience, and we all talked to her. Of course, she was delighted to hear from us, and delighted that we were back at the Cairn, and excited that all the kids got to see it. And, I think she was happy to be thanked for her determination to get me there, all those years back. So, I totally get your point Mike, and even sitting here in Regina, and having this time-delayed back and forth with you, is a pleasure missed in earlier years.

    Comment by iainmacd — October 3, 2010 #

  3. Thanks guys for your comments. I actually had a lot of private email on this post – odd.

    Iain – I note you managed to get in your smartarse kick through the back-door, all the same! A nice story. You’re such a soft-hearted soul.

    Comment by Michael Grey — October 4, 2010 #

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