The history of Execulink Telecom | firez
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The history of Execulink Telecom

Execulink Telecom has a long history of servicing Southwestern Ontario with telephony services that began in 1904. From then until today, the organization’s commitment to staying innovative and providing extraordinary experiences to its customers has remained the same. The initial telephone services provided by the parent companies have grown to include data, Internet, TV, mobility and advanced voice features. This blog explores the history of Execulink and the decisions, leaders and technological advances that have brought the company to where it is today.

Anne Stephen and Keith Stevens in Burgessville at an open house when a new office opened in 1995.

The Burgessville Telephone Company

The Burgessville Telephone Company was founded in 1904 by Dr. Service, a local physician. The first line connected his office to the general store in Holbrook, two miles further on. He believed that a local system would be of great benefit to the community, so he started circulating the idea among his neighbors. A small group of enthusiasts volunteered to help him get started and donated their time and resources by digging post holes, tying wire, and providing wooden posts.

The first switchboard was installed in 1905 in Burgessville and within a short time 200 telephones were operational. The decision was made to set up a public limited company. In 1923 area residents signed a petition asking the City to establish a public utility municipal telephone system. This marked the transformation of the Burgessville Telephone Company into the North Norwich Municipal Telephone System.

North Norwich Municipal Telephone System

The 1923 petition heralded a new era in communications for this area. Municipal systems like this have been formed to finance sophisticated equipment. But the 1930s were a difficult time for the North Norwich Telephone Company and the rest of Canada, as the Great Depression took its toll. Unpaid bills and the constant need to fix wires and poles led to financial worries. However, during this tumultuous decade, the company’s commissioners and secretary-treasurer began to see light at the end of the tunnel. The company would survive the financial hardships.

North Norwich Municipal Telephone System – Modernised

Throughout the 1950s North Norwich continued to grow and change. By 1951 the Burgessville Exchange had outgrown the old building, so a new brick structure was built to house a new office, warehouse, and workshop. A new electrical panel was also installed upon completion of the building. Several upgrades were also completed to North Norwich’s municipal telephone system infrastructure during the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s. For example, on August 7thth, 1979 A tornado cuts a path of destruction through the area served by the telephone system. More than 80 homes were destroyed and outdoor equipment, including lines, were completely demolished. To help combat this, in late 1979, Oxford MP Harry Parrott, then Environment Secretary, announced that an emergency grant of $100,000 would be awarded to the North Norwich Telephone System « to get back in business ».

The history of Hurontario Telephones Limited

A local telephone company was established in 1908 serving Thedford, Arkona, Bosanquet, Warwick, McGilivary, West Williams and Adelaide Townships. The founders included Thomas Moloy, Dr. Alfred James Grant and a number of other businessmen. The group formed Thedford, Arkona and East Lambton Telephone Company. It grew rapidly in the following years.

Eventually, in 1948, it was sold to Dr James A Vance of Woodstock and Mr ET Downs of Toronto. Dr James A Vance was a director of the Oxford Telephone Company Limited, which served Princeton, Drumbo and the town of East Oxford. During this period, there were approximately 400 subscribers in the Thedford, Arkona and East Lambton telephone company.

When Vance and Downs bought the controlling stock of this company, they knew the system needed updating, including a new switchboard and the replacement of all 400 phones. This upgrade program started in 1948 and finished in 1951. A new office was also built in Thedford. In 1950 the company applied to change its name to Hurontario Telephones Limited.

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The Hurontario Telephones Limited office located in Thedford in 1950.

Merger – North Norwich Municipal Telephone System and Hurontario Telephones Limited

In late 1983 discussions began about a potential sale of the North Norwich municipal telephone system. Hurontario Telephones Limited sent a bid to North Norwich council. The two companies could better face the challenges of new technologies by merging. In a letter to North Norwich dated 2 March 1984, Hurontario Telephones secretary-treasurer Keith Stevens gave subscribers a comparison of the two offers. In this comparison, two specific pieces of information emerged. Hurontario’s existing telephone service rate was significantly lower than that of the other bidder, and perhaps most importantly, Hurontario’s offering would maintain local jobs and presence.

Keith Stevens on a phone call in the Thedford office.
Keith Stevens on a phone call in the Thedford office during the company’s digital switchover in 1987.

In March 1984, after a vote by North Norwich Telephone Company shareholders, the decision was made to sell to North Norwich Telephones Limited and make it a subsidiary of Hurontario Telephones Limited of Thedford. New directors included Jim Stevens, John Downs, Paul Downs, Philip Walden and Keith Stevens. Don Stevens joined the board two years later. After the purchase, improvements have been made to increase the reliability of the telephone service. A Nortel DMS 100 computerized central office was installed in Burgessville in 1985 and in Port Franks in 1987.

The two companies were kept apart for some time and the shares were offered to the previous owners. Eventually, in 1993, the operating names of North Norwich Telephones and Hurontario Telephones were retained and parent company Hurontario Telecommunications Inc was formed. Shortly thereafter, cable TV systems operated by Regional Cable Systems in Ilderton, Ailsa Craig, Thedford, Port Franks, Parkhill, Arkona, Forest and Watford were put up for sale. An agreement was reached and this company was purchased and its name was changed to Ausable Cablecom Inc.

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In 1997 the Thedford office was refurbished and extended.

Internet and Execulink Telecom

In 1995, the company began offering Internet access in the Burgessville area and Thedford shortly thereafter. The Burgessville office added a new building in 1995 and the Thedford office was renovated in 1997. The popularity of the Internet grew rapidly and by 1998 there were over 3000 customers.

Company officials were considering ways to expand further. At the time, Execulink Internet Services operated out of Woodstock and London. It turned out that Execulink was trying to sell their operations. Negotiations have begun and the purchase of Execulink by Hurontario Telecommunications Inc. has been concluded.

Execulink Telecom

In 1999 there were 4 different divisions – Hurontario Telephones Limited, North Norwich Telephones, Ausable Cable Com. and Execulink Internet Services Corporation – under the parent company – Hurontario Telecommunications Inc. This was confusing for customers and made marketing very difficult. So in 2000 it was decided to adopt the name Execulink as the name for all companies.

From 2000 to 2002 the company bought a number of other Internet service providers including MGL in Guelph/Kitchener and Odyssey in London. One of the largest acquisitions was Golden.net in 2004, based in Kitchener. As these have been integrated into the Execulink network, geographical boundaries have expanded. In 2000, the company also began reselling DSL services to customers throughout Ontario. As the years went by, Execulink remained committed to providing innovative experiences to its customers by entering long distance calling services and building its own fiber internet infrastructure. Execulink’s fiber Internet, TV, and phone services began expanding into many areas of rural Ontario, where previously only dial-up was available.

In 2006, Keith Stevens retired as CEO and assumed the role of Chairman of the Board of Directors. His son, Ian Stevens, has been promoted to CEO.

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Execulink CEO Ian Stevens (center) cuts the ribbon at the 2013 Woodstock office opening along with City of Woodstock MPP Earnie Hardeman (left) and Paul Plant. Staff have amalgamated here from London, Kitchener and Burgessville. This is the current location.

Expansions and shops

Execulink has continued to focus on expanding and improving its fiber and hybrid fiber infrastructure in Oxford, Norfolk, Lambton and Middlesex counties. In January 2013, the company launched a new mobility service. In 2014, Execulink expanded by selling third-party cable Internet services throughout Ontario. In addition to offices in Thedford and Woodstock, Execulink has opened outlets in Port Dover and Tillsonburg to support its customers in those cities. A shop was also opened in Delhi from 2014 to 2020.

Get started today with Execulink Telecom

Throughout its history, Execulink has remained committed to improving customers’ lifestyles at work, at home, and at play. Staying innovative and embracing the latest technologies has helped cultivate local telephony offerings into a full suite of telecom services including data, internet, mobility, TV and advanced voice capabilities for residential and business customers. At the heart of the organization is a commitment that connects and supports local communities in Southwestern Ontario.

With 24/7 support and a wide range of options to suit every lifestyle, Execulink offers the great services your home or business needs to stay connected to what matters most ! Call 1-866-706-1942 today and visit the Internet, TV, Telephone, groups OR Business Services page to find the package you were looking for!


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