Year Born: 1915
Year Died: 2005
Boyle, Harry J. (1915-2005)
Harry Boyle grew up on a farm near Goderich, Ontario, and after graduating from school, started working for the Goderich Signal Star and then free-lanced for several western Ontario weekly newspapers. In 1936, while in Wingham covering a murder trial, he heard CKNX, the local radio station. The news they were broadcasting came in the mail from a U. S. news service and was sometimes a week old. He went to see CKNX’s owner, “Doc” Cruickshank to suggest to him that he should carry local and area news, for that would increase listenership. “Doc” said okay, why don’t you try it tonight. He started the next night and soon developed a noon hour news and sundry show that also included births, deaths upcoming entertainment, agriculture news – anything that would interest the listeners. He stayed at CKNX for 5 years where he gained the knowledge that would lead him to the top broadcasting post in the land.
Having learned all he could, doing every job at the station, he decided to live a more regulated life and went back to the newspaper business with the Stratford Beacon Herald as District Editor. While at Wingham, he met Don Fairburn whose uncle ran a bookstore where Harry spent a lot of his spare time. Fairburn worked for the newly-formed CBC, and he came to Stratford to ask Harry to come to Toronto for an interview. He had heard Harry doing a farm broadcast on the Wingham station, mentioned it to his boss in Toronto. Harry went for the interview, came back to Stratford to pack his things. Phase two of Boyle’s life in broadcasting was under way.
He started at the CBC in 1942, in the studios in a factory building where the Toronto Transit repair yards are now located. The studios and equipment weren’t much different from those in Wingham, but Harry was impressed with the staff. People such as Orville Shugg, J. Frank Willis of the Moose River Mine disaster, Reid Forsey and Ernie Bushnell. Harry was assigned as the Farm Commentator, then moved up to Assistant Farm Director and then Farm Director. They started the Noon Hour farm show with farm news, market reports and a farm “soap opera” – different shows in the regions across the country – “The Gillans” in the Maritimes, “The Craigs” in Ontario and “The Carsons” in B.C. each program tailored to farm life in their regions.
In the late 40s, he moved into production and rose in the ranks and was subsequently appointed Director of the Trans Canada Network. When the Dominion Network was established, they were looking for a feature program and Harry created “Assignment” which reflected “homey” local stories from across Canada. This, he says, was his Wingham “area” involvement done on a national basis. He later used the same format on television in a program called “Across Canada”.
Phase three of the Harry Boyle saga occurred in 1968 with his appointment as Vice Chairman of the CRTC. In 1975 he succeeded Pierre Juneau as Chairman. He was the first member of the governing body to have actual on-air experience in both the private and public sectors of broadcasting in Canada. He came to the Commission with knowledge of the problems and opportunities of those who would appear before him. During his tenure, the Commission was granted jurisdiction over telecommunications on April 1st 1976, and became the Canadian Radio-Television and Telecommunications Commission.
Harry Boyle retired from the CRTC in 1977. In 1988, he was appointed an Officer of the Order of Canada.
Harry Boyle died on January 21st, 2005.
Written by Ross McCreath – May, 1996