Collingwood Museum showcases local collection of historic telephone equipment

May 22, 2019
Museum - Telephone

Former Bell Canada repairman showcases collection of local telephones and equipment at Museum

Manfred Leimgardt’s 1975 Bell service truck, 1953 tool cart, and telephone displays are familiar sights at local celebrations, including Doors Open and the Great Northern Exhibition.

For a limited time, a selection of Manfred’s Bell Canada collection will be on display at the Collingwood Museum as part of the Community Collectors exhibition series. Community members are invited to visit the museum to take in the display until Friday, July 5, 2019.

The unique display will be paired with the Collingwood Museum’s increasingly popular Collectors Night on Wednesday, June 5, between 7:00 p.m. and 8:30 p.m. Community members are invited to bring their personal collections of all things Bell Canada for an informal show-and-tell. Phonebooks, telephones, photographs, we’d love to see them all!

There will also be an opportunity for participants to try their hand at operating an original switchboard. This promises to be an excellent photo op!

If the weather cooperates, Manfred will be arriving in style in his 1975 Bell truck. You don’t want to miss this exciting event!

Local resident Manfred Leimgardt was 23 years old when he began his career with the Bell Telephone Company of Canada as a telephone installer and repairman in 1956. First positioned in Orillia, Manfred and nine other staff were given the task to convert customers’ wooden wall telephones to the popular “500 set” rotary dial phones.

Manfred was soon relocated to the Collingwood office where, for a short while, he rented a room at the Tremont Hotel where he owned the only private telephone.

In his role as installer and repairman, Manfred was on the road daily serving an area that stretched between Creemore, Stayner, New Lowell, Wasaga Beach, Collingwood, and Everett. He kept his camera in his truck and often took pictures from atop the telephone poles of Collingwood and the surrounding area. Some of these pictures are included in the museum display and many more will be available to view at the June 5 Collectors Night.  

Manfred left the Bell Telephone Company of Canada in 1967, but his passion for Bell and telephones has only grown with time. His large collection of Bell memorabilia includes dozens of telephones, telephone directories, paper, and photographic documents. Many of the objects were given to Manfred by his loyal customers.

On a bi-monthly basis, staff will be working with community collectors to showcase private collections in a designated case by the Collingwood Museum’s west entrance. If you’re interested in learning more about this opportunity, please contact museum staff at or 705-445-4811.