When phone service came to Clifford in the early 1900s, Robert Wightman, a farmer in nearby Howick Township, desperately wanted to have service on his farm. When Bell could not meet Robert’s request for phone service, Robert decided to start his own phone company in 1908 by stringing lines from his farm to his neighbours throughout the township. He connected sixty of his neighbours, and was able to connect into the Bell long distance lines at Clifford in 1911. In 1928, Robert retired and handed over the management of the Robert Wightman Telephone Company to his son Ben.
In 1928, Ben Wightman purchased the Clifford, Ayton, and Neustadt exchanges. After Ben’s death in 1948, Leila, his widow, and their son, Ray, took over the company and soon purchased automated dial technology, ending the era of the Switchboard Operator. An ice storm destroyed Wightman’s phone lines in 1954, leading to the installation of underground cabling. Wightman Telephone also bought several small local exchanges, including Normanby, Bentinck, Wroxeter, and Howick. In 2006, Leila was inducted into Canada’s Telecommunications Hall of Fame.
Growth & Prosperity
Ray joined the company in 1948, when his father died, and worked closely with his mother, to bring Wightman Telephone into the modern era. Upon Leila’s death in 1976, Ray took full command of the company, and lead it until his retirement in 1987. During Ray’s tenure, Wightman Telephone saw the deregulation of phone sets, the introduction of the cellular phone, and the incorporation of Wightman Contracting. In 1995, Ray was awarded a Life Membership by the Ontario Telephone Association, and in 2007, Ray was inducted into the Ontario Agricultural Hall of Fame.
The Digital Age
Paul and Blair took over the company when their father, Ray, retired in 1987. In 1995, Paul and Blair introduced the Internet (which was at that time a new service), providing a high-speed connection to rural Ontario long before it was introduced into larger cities. In 2008, Wightman made a huge advance in delivering services by introducing Wightman Fibre to the Home. In the last decade, there has been a massive investment in making this modern and future-proof communications infrastructure available to you. Whatever the technology of the future demands, Wightman Fibre to the Home and Business will be ready for it.
Passed from generation to generation. (From left) Ray Wightman and his two sons, Blair and Paul Wightman.
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