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Margaret Ross

Born in 1866

Started in 1897 as a Government Telegraph Operator

Still Working in 1954 after 57 years with the Government

 
 

An article from 1954....

 

"GRANDMA ROSS" - 88

Still Active Clicker

It is quite probable that the Department of Transport has the oldest employee in Canada's Civil Service and one who is "still alive and clicking". Mrs. Margaret Ross, 88, has served over 57 years as a government telegraph operator at North East Margaree, N.S. She says she has no intention of retiring as long as they leave the key with her.

 

Still spry, sharp as a Morse signal, and with a twinkle in her eye that time has not dimmed, Mrs. Ross hopes to continue as telegraph operator "until I get too old to handle it". " That", she said, " will not be for some time".

 

Her home is a landmark in the beautiful country of Inverness county, a fisherman's paradise. Watching for the click of the key and the ring of the six Mutual company and government telephone lines which are connected with the Government's telegraph service at the Ross house, she does her own cooking and housekeeping as well as keeping an eye on two of her 36 grandchildren who sleep in the family homestead with " gammie" for company and also keep a watchful eye for visitors.

 

"Grandma Ross" is a veteran of a "telegraph" family. A son, Charlie, lives next to her and is the Margaree lineman. A daughter, Edna, Mrs. Stanley C. Haley, Hartford, Conn., once was an operator with Western Union at North Sydney and during World War II was back to the Morse key for emergency duty.

 

Mrs. Ross's biggest thrill in telegraphy was receiving word of the World War I armistice which had been relayed from Sydney to Baddeck and from Baddeck to North East Margaree. Mr. and Mrs. Duncan Ross had five sons overseas in the war - Ben, Frank, Losford Murray, Guy and Duncan H. They all came back although some were wounded. Mr. Ross, who died some years ago, was also in uniform in World War l. but was turned down for overseas service because of his age. Six of her eight sons and two daughters are living.

 

A pleasant holiday Grandma likes to recall was a "fling" in New York to visit two of her daughters and "do the town". It was her first visit to the big city and she did it up right by making the round trip by plane.

 

In the days before radio and when newspaper deliveries were hit-and-miss, the telegraph station was the centre of information for the district. There is not much telegraph business at North East Margaree during most of the year, but during the salmon season there is a pick-up as fishermen wire home to tell the folks about the big one they caught or the bigger one that got away. Mrs. Ross has never caught a salmon but she knows plenty about them and the men who whip the streams for the famous game fish.

 

In her spare time, Grandma Ross makes patch­work quilts and hooked rugs, and in her lifetime has completed more than 200. She delights in talking of her children, grandchildren and great grandchildren - "And there's lots of them to talk about." Her secret for a happy, vigorous life -- "hard work". She could have added "and a sense of humour".

 

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