Here’s my latest research project: a unified timeline of public radio in Canada. Out of necessity, I included some early private station to flesh out radio’s early presence in Canada.
1901 Guglielmo Marconi receives the world’s first long-distance wireless transmission at Signal Hill, Nfld., on December 12.
1902 Marconi builds transatlantic wireless transmitter at Glace Bay, N.S.
1906 On Christmas Eve, electrical engineer Reginald Fessenden, of Austin, Que., makes the world’s first audio broadcast from a U.S. Navy transmitter at Brant Rock, Mass.
1913 Radiotelegraph Act passed, giving the federal government control over radio licensing
1919 Experimental radio station XWA Montreal opens in December, as the first regular commercial radio station in North America
1922 The federal Department of Marine and Fisheries begins issuing commercial radio licenses. The first is given to XWA, which becomes CFCF Montreal. CFCF changes to CIQC in 1991, then to CINW in 1999 before closing in 2010.
CJBC Montreal opens in May, as the first French radio station in Canada.
1923 Canadian National Railways president Sir Henry Thornton authorizes the creation of a nationwide radio network to service CNR hotels and passenger trains. CN Radio is the first transcontinental broadcasting network in North America.
The Dominion Observatory opens experimental shortwave station 9CC to broadcast official time signals. The call sign was changed to VE9OB in 1928 and to its current sign, CHU, in 1932.
1925 Ted Rogers Sr. invents the “batteryless” radio, the first radio set to run on household alternating current.
1927 Rogers founds CFRB Toronto, the oldest still-operating radio station in Canada.
The first regular scripted network program in Canadian history, The CNRV Players, premieres. It was produced by CNRV Vancouver for CN Radio and ran until 1932.
1928 Anti-Catholic broadcasts made in Quebec by the Jehovah’s Witnesses prompts Prime Minister William Lyon Mackenzie King to appoint the Royal Commission on Radio Broadcasting, chaired by Sir John Aird, president of the Canadian Bank of Commerce.
CFRB Toronto becomes a CBS affiliate, the first Canadian station to join an American broadcast network.
1929 The report of the Aird Commission recommends the creation of a national public broadcaster.
1930 The Canadian Pacific Railway applies for radio licences in 11 Canadian cities in January, planning to set up a rival network to CN Radio. It withdraws all but 3 of these applications by April, and never establishes any stations except for one “phantom station”, CPRY Toronto, that leased airtime from CFRB.
1931 In November, CN Radio premieres a new sports program, General Motors Hockey Broadcast. It is continued on CN Radio’s successor networks and is eventually renamed Hockey Night in Canada.
On-train CN Radio reception car service ends in November.
1932 Parliament passes the Radio Broadcasting Act, creating the Canadian Radio Broadcasting Commission (CRBC) as Canada’s public broadcaster and broadcasting regulatory body. Saturday Night editor Hector Charlesworth is appointed its first chairman.
1933 CN Radio closes down and sells its assets to the CRBC.
1935 CP Radio shuts down.
1936 Parliament passes the Broadcasting Act, dissolving the CRBC and creating the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) as Canada’s public broadcaster and broadcasting regulatory body. Alberta lawyer Leonard Brockington is appointed as its first chairman.
1937 Radio-Canada, the CBC’s French service, begins operation.
1939 On November 5, CBC Radio begins airing its longest-running program, The National Research Council Time Signal.
The Broadcasting Corporation of Newfoundland (BCN) is founded as the state broadcaster of the Dominion of Newfoundland.
1940 CBC adopts its classic “thunderbolt” logo, which it uses until 1958.
1944 On January 1, CBC radio service splits into two networks. The Trans-Canada Network consists mostly of CBC-owned stations and broadcasts news, current events and cultural programming from flagship station CBL Toronto, while the Dominion Network was mostly privately-owned stations airing light entertainment programming from CJBC Toronto.
1945 The CBC International Service starts broadcasting on shortwave radio.
1946 CBC and Radio-Canada open their first FM stations, as local rebroadcasters of their AM radio programming.
CKSB St. Boniface, Man., becomes the first Radio-Canada station outside Quebec.
1949 BCN is absorbed into the CBC.
1952 CBC begins television service in September.
1958 The CBC Northern Service (later renamed CBC North) opens on AM and shortwave frequencies, broadcasting in English and Native languages. Television service is added in 1973.
The Broadcasting Act is amended, removing the CBC’s mandate to regulate the broadcasting industry. The Board of Broadcast Governors (BBG) is formed.
1960 Original programming starts on CBC’s FM stations.
1962 The Trans-Canada and Dominion Networks are dissolved and merged into one network.
1964 Former Dominion Network flagship station CJBC Toronto becomes Radio-Canada’s Toronto station in October.
1968 The Broadcasting Act is amended, introducing new quotas and regulations concerning minimum amounts of Canadian content on television and radio.
The BBG is dissolved and replaced by the Canadian Radio and Television Commission (CRTC). Its first president is Pierre Juneau, former director of French-language production at the National Film Board.
1970 the CBC International Service is renamed Radio Canada International (RCI).
Control of the time signal station CHU is transferred from the Dominion Observatory to the National Research Council.
1974 All commercial advertising is removed from CBC Radio and Radio-Canada.
CBC adopts the earliest version of its modern “gem” logo.
Radio-Canada’s FM operations are rebranded as Radio-Canada FM.
1975 CBC Radio’s FM stations are rebranded as CBC Stereo.
1976 Hockey Night in Canada ends radio broadcasts.
The CRTC takes over as the regulator of the telecommunications industry from the Canadian Transport Commission and is renamed the Canadian Radio-Television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC).
1991 Current version of the Broadcasting Act passed by Parliament.
1992 CBC adopts the modern version of its logo.
1997 CBC renames its radio networks: CBC Radio becomes Radio One, CBC Stereo becomes Radio Two, Radio Canada becomes la Première chaîne and Radio-Canada FM becomes la Chaîne culturelle.
2000 CBC start two new Internet-streaming-only networks for emerging Canadian music: CBC Radio Three and its French counterpart, Bande à part.
2004 La Chaîne culturelle is renamed Espace musique.
2005 In December, CBC puts four stations on Sirius satellite radio: Radio One, Radio Three, Première chaîne and Bande à part.
2012 RCI is shut down.