A brief history of the 416 area code

I chose areacode416homes.com as my real estate website domain and @areacode416 as my Twitter handle because it ties nicely into a couple of my passions: Toronto and numbers. It is also a nod to my high school and university summer job as a Bell Canada telephone operator. Zero was my work phone number back then. You may remember me from such catchphrases as "Bell operator — may I help you?" or "Directory Assistance — for what city please?"). 

Here’s some 411 on the  416:

1924 – First telephone exchange in Canada was GRover (e.g. GRover 1234, or 47-1234) in the Kingston Road and Main Street area.

GRover telephone exchange

1947 – Original 86 North American area codes are introduced, including 416. First digits use 2-9 (the “4”), second digits are either 0 (if it was the only area code for the state/province) or 1 (if there were multiple area codes). Ontario and Quebec are the only provinces to get two (613 was the other in Ontario). 1947 original area code map here.

1951 – Toronto exchanges begin lengthening from 6 digits (2 letters +4 numbers) to 7 digits (2L+5N). The example below shows the original 2L+4N KEnwood (53) exchange transforming to the 2L+5N LEnnox exchange.

416 KEnwood and LEnnox exchanges

1953 – 416 splits with the western portions (e.g. Kitchener) becoming 519.

1961 – Named prefixes begin to be phased out in favour of All Number Calling (ANC).

1993 – 416 splits for the second time, with Metro Toronto (M postal codes) remaining 416, and the suburbs (L postal codes) becoming 905.

2001 – 647 code (overlaying the 416) is introduced, necessitating 10 digit local dialing.

2013 – 437 code (another overlay) is introduced.

So the 416 existed for 46 years before splitting, and in half that time our population growth and the explosion of mobile phones and direct business lines has led to the introduction of 5 more area codes in that territory. It's a fast-paced world!

Southern Ontario area code map


Good reads on this subject:
Telephone EXchange Name Project
"Toronto's history in phone numbers" (Spacing.ca article and source of the laundry photo)

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Scott Ingram

Scott Ingram

CENTURY 21 Regal Realty Inc., Brokerage*
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