Talk to Me! Paul Axman's Telephone Collection

February 27, 2021 - January 9, 2022
A Wellington County Collects ExhibitImage of Paul Axman, pointing to the left

With hundreds of items in his collection, local collector Paul Axman from Guelph-Eramosa Township has a few of his favourite things on display.

“The telephone is one of the most defining inventions over the last 140 years….It is my hope this exhibit gives folks pause to reflect on just how much telephones have impacted our lives today,” says Paul Axman.  

blue and white graphic for audio Listen to Paul Axman's radio interview 

Download fun colouring activities at Virtual WCMA!

image of boy, green hat with a magnifying glass 

Online Scavenger Hunt 

Sneak Peek Videos

New videos will be posted each month, so remember to check back often to see more!

WCMA Presents “Wightman – A Family Legacy” (video) 

Special guest speaker Paul Wightman, Owner and Co-chairman of Wightman presents the history and legacy of Wightman. This presentation highlights the history and legacy of Wightman, the only privately owned fourth generation independent telephone company in Canada, from its early beginnings in 1908 to today.

Telephone Talks #4 (video) - On the Job (Cables)


From heights, to bad weather, and everything in between, being a telephone linesman was dangerous work! Learn more about the fascinating jobs and infrastructure of the telephone industry in this new episode.


Telephone Talks #3 (video) - Dial Telephones


Do you remember dial telephones? Do you know who invented it? Dive into the story of the dial telephone today with WCMA programming staff in our third installment of Telephone Talks.


Telephone Talks #2 (video) - Early Telephones

Who discovered the telephone and why? Uncover the story of Alexander Graham Bell and his early telephone inventions. 

Telephone Talks #1 (video) - Paul Axman's Collector Story

With hundreds of items in his collection, local collector Paul Axman from Guelph-Eramosa Township gives us an insider's look on telephone collecting.


Telephone Take Away (video) - How to Make a String Telephone 

How it Works:

  • Each person should take a cup and slowly move away from each other until the string is pulled tight.

  • Keeping the string tight, have one person put the cup to their ear and the other talk into their cup. See what happens!

  • Switch with your friend and try again! You can keep experimenting by seeing what happens when the string isn’t pulled tight or how different lengths and types of string modify the sound.



Download Instructions pdf


Displayphone (video)
Bell Canada, 1982


“This telephone allowed access to two telephone lines, touchtone or rotary service, a built in modem and a 7-inch screen. Other features included: an 81 number directory, last number redial, hands free talking, and options to connect to an external printer. Cutting-edge stuff for the 1980s!"

– Paul Axman

Strowger (video)
11 Digit Wall Set, 1908


“This phone was made by Automatic Electric in Chicago. Automatic Electric eventually had plants in Brockville, Ontario and Lethbridge, Alberta.

This telephone is an example of the first commercially viable dial system invented by Almon Strowger of Kansas City. Almon Strowger was an undertaker. He was convinced the operators were steering calls to his competitor so he set about designing an automatic telephone exchange that would allow customers to reach him directly. He founded the Strowger Automatic Telephone Exchange Company in 1891 and helped form the Automatic Electric Company which leased his patents exclusively.

When these telephones came out of service a lot of them were bundled up in pairs. There was a button, on the front, and a transformer, so farmers could put one in the house and one out in the barn and use them as an intercom.”

– Paul Axman

Exhibit Installation (video)

For more information on the Wellington County Collects exhibition series please contact Amy Dunlop at 519.846.0916 x 5232. 

How To Start a Personal Collection pdf

© 2022 County of Wellington, 74 Woolwich St. Guelph, Ontario N1H 3T9, T 519.837.2600, TF 1.800.663.0750, F 519.837.1909