I grew up in Montreal, Canada and had a keen interest in all things electronic. As a young lad, I had several friends who shared this same interest and we often shared project ideas and talked about one day working for one of the big technology companies in Montreal. Certainly Northern Telecom, as it was known when I was young, was the battle-star to be stationed on. Other notables were Canadian Marconi, CAE, Bombardier (or Canadair), or Spar Aerospace (The guys who built the Canad-arm).
Sadly, the fate of Nortel Networks is well known and serves as an extreme example of how even the mighty can fall. They were certainly one of largest victims of the late 90s drunken orgy of equities trading known today as the dot-com bubble. While everyone knows what became of Nortel, few know of their humble beginnings. Here is a great website that chronicles the history of Nortel from modest beginning, to telecommunications industry giant, to sad end; www.nortel-canada.com/about/history (at the bottom of the page is a full historical timeline).
The legacy of Nortel continues and will live on for decades or even centuries in the technology that is still in service and the innovation that will inspire the practices of design well into the future.
Additional Links to Nortel / Northern Electric Info:
Canadian Regiser - Northern Electric Company Limited, Montreal Thanks to UWO for their permission to link.