In the earliest years of the telephone, companies hired teenage boys to work as switchboard operators. Boys made good telegraph operators, but they were often rude to telephone customers, pulling pranks and hanging up. The companies soon switched to young women, who were calmer and friendlier. They were also more cost-effective: pay rates for women were lower than those for men.
Canada’s first female telephone operator was Lillian W. Camp, who started in 1880 and worked for Bell in Montreal for 50 years.