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Government of Canada honours national historic significance of early commercial radio broadcasting in Canada

Press Release

From: Parks Canada

Commercial radio helped usher in the modern era of mass communication.

September 20, 2022

Commercial radio in Canada began with Montréal station XWA. From its first broadcasts until the creation of a public system in 1932, a radio craze swept the country, establishing a new mass communication industry that would dramatically alter the way in which Canadians consumed news and entertainment.

Today, the Honourable Steven Guilbeault, Minister of Environment and Climate Change and Minister responsible for Parks Canada commemorated the national historic significance of early commercial radio broadcasting in Canada.

Commercial radio in Canada got its start with the Marconi Wireless Telegraph Company of Canada in 1918. From its rudimentary Montréal facility, this company experimented with wireless broadcasting and received a licence for station XWA in December 1919. A year later, the station started a regular schedule of transmissions.

From that single station grew an industry that over the course of the next 12 years ushered in the modern era of mass communication. By 1922, there were 39 radio stations in Canada. By 1931, that number had jumped to 173,200. Even in the midst of the Great Depression, the radio industry was growing.

The Canadian Radio Broadcasting Commission, Canada’s first public broadcaster, was established in 1932 and with it the era of exclusively private radio came to an end, but it was a period that would establish the basis of Canadian broadcasting for the 20th century. In a little over a decade, radio had gone from a niche hobby to a major cultural industry.

The Government of Canada, through the Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada, recognizes significant people, places, and events that shaped our country as one way of helping Canadians and youth connect with their past. The National Program of Historical Commemoration is largely driven by public nominations.

We invite Canadians to learn more about our history – from lighthouses to battlefields, historic neighbourhoods to Indigenous contributions to Canada, there is an amazing array of places and stories to discover.

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Group photo Left to right: Ms. Geneviève Caron, Director of the Mauricie and Western Quebec Field Unit, Ms. Yolande Cohen, Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada representative, Mr. François Gagnon, Executive Director, École de technologie supérieure de Montréal, Mr. Denis Couillard, Director, Solutions Development, Ultra Communications and Mr. Alain Dufour, Secretary, Quebec Society for Vintage Radio Collectors yesterday unveiled the plaque highlighting the national historic significance of early radio broadcasting commercial in Canada.

Quotes

“On behalf of the Government of Canada, I am honoured to commemorate the national historic significance of early commercial radio broadcasting in Canada. Historic designations reflect Canada’s rich and varied history and I encourage all Canadians to learn more about early commercial radio broadcasting in Canada and its important contributions to Canada’s heritage.”

Honourable Steven Guilbeault,
Minister of Environment and Climatic Change and Minister responsible for Parks Canada

“Just like Marconi, who was a daring and persevering entrepreneur, the community of researchers at ÉTS is striving today to imagine the telecommunications of tomorrow, which will serve not only to interconnect people, but also billions of objects that will be part of our daily lives, whether to improve our health, monitor the state of our infrastructure in real time, guide our transport or adapt to climate change.”

François Gagnon,
Executive Director of l’ÉTS

Quick facts

  • Commercial radio in Canada got its start with the Marconi Wireless Telegraph Company of Canada in 1918.
  • Commercial radio in Canada began with Montréal station XWA. From that single station grew an industry that over the course of the next 12 years ushered in the modern era of mass communication.
  • The Canadian Radio Broadcasting Commission, Canada’s first public broadcaster, was established in 1932 with it the era of exclusively private radio came to an end, but it was a period that would establish the basis of Canadian broadcasting for the 20 th century.
  • Created in 1919, the Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada advises the Minister of Environment and Climate Change regarding the national historic significance of places, people and events that have marked Canada’s history.
  • The designation process under Parks Canada’s National Program of Historical Commemoration is largely driven by public nominations. To date, more than 2,200 designations have been made nationwide. To nominate a person, place or historical event in your community, please visit the Parks Canada website for more information: https://www.pc.gc.ca/en/culture/clmhc-hsmbc/ncp-pcn/application

Related products

Associated links

Contacts

Kaitlin Power
Press Secretary
Office of the Minister of Environment and Climate Change
819-230-1557
[email protected]

Media Relations
Parks Canada Agency
855-862-1812
[email protected]

Chantal Crevier
Communications Advisor
L’École de Technologie Supérieure
[email protected]
514-396-8800, ext. 7893

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