Media, Information and Technoculture 2000F/G Chapter Notes -The Postal Service, Brian Osborne, Central Canada

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Published on 16 Nov 2011
School
Western University
Department
Media, Information and Technoculture
Course
Media, Information and Technoculture 2000F/G
October 13, 2011
Reading Summaries
“Lowering ‘The Walls of Oblivion’: The Revolution in Postal Communications in Central
Canada, 1851-1911”
Brian Osborne and Robert Pike
This reading explores the effects the ‘mass’ postal service had on people’s lives in
Ontario and Quebec between 1851 and 1911. The postal service used to be a luxury, but after
Britain gave up their control of the Canadian postal service to the provinces and territories it
became accessible to everyone. Now there were more post offices and faster services; with this
change meant that there was less need for face to face communication, which brought about a
communication revolution. The number of post offices “almost quadrupled between 1851 and
1867” (73). Implementing these new post offices meant that more transportation was needed.
The invention of the railway was very important because it greatly reduced mail delivery times.
More free, public elementary schools were opened which increased literacy, as you had to be
literate in order to use the postal service. Reading and writing letters became a normal, daily
activity. A high increase in migration in Ontario and Quebec (mainlyOntario) meant that there
was more of a demand for post offices. Osborne and Pike say that letters sent to family members
not living in Canada functioned as a sort of travel brochure for Canada. The post office also
enabled more people to move away from home because they would no longer be completely cut
off from communicating with loved ones – they could do so through the mail. In addition to
providing mail service post offices started functioning as banking facilities and enabled mail
order. Osborne and Pike conclude the article by giving ideas as to why the postal service was
more popular in Ontario than Quebec.
“Back to the Future: Telecommunications, Online Information Services, and Convergence from
1840 to 1910”
Dwayne Winseck
This reading discusses the media convergence that was brought about by the invention of
the telegraph. If we understand how the telegraph evolved we can predict how new media will
evolve. There used to be no demand for the telegraph in Canada, but delayed implementation of
new technologies was not new to this country. However with help from “railways, the state,
stock markets and the press” the telegraph began seen as having a purpose (81), and the press
was instrumental in commercializing the telegraph. Through the telegraph the press could easily
distribute news quickly and cheaply. The Canadian Electric Telegraph Act made it possible for
anyone to develop their own telegraph network. The telegraph eliminated the need to wait for
news from far away. Companies began to compete to gain a monopoly on information, as this
was possible now when it was not before. Soon companies like the Associated Press controlled
pretty much all of the Maritime telegraph companies. In an effort to consolidate control over
telegraphy in North America a transatlantic cable was created by the Anglo-American Telegraph
Company in 1865. They held a monopoly over certain parts of land, like Nova Scotia, that no
other companies could touch. Other competitors emerged, small companies aligned with other
small companies to stay in business, etc. The telephone was provided by separate companies (not
telegraph ones) because of “strategic rivalry” between telegraph companies who were trying to
gain too much power (86). However there was still an intimate connection between the telegraph,
the press and information services. They began to be seen as inseparable because they could
function so well together. The relationship between the press and the telegraph began to break
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Document Summary

Lowering the walls of oblivion": the revolution in postal communications in central. This reading explores the effects the mass" postal service had on people"s lives in. The postal service used to be a luxury, but after. Britain gave up their control of the canadian postal service to the provinces and territories it became accessible to everyone. Now there were more post offices and faster services; with this change meant that there was less need for face to face communication, which brought about a communication revolution. The number of post offices almost quadrupled between 1851 and. Implementing these new post offices meant that more transportation was needed. The invention of the railway was very important because it greatly reduced mail delivery times. More free, public elementary schools were opened which increased literacy, as you had to be literate in order to use the postal service. Reading and writing letters became a normal, daily activity.

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