Glen “Robbie” Robitaille (1918-2015)

Glen Robitaille
Glen “Robbie” Robitaille

Year Born: 1918

Year Died: 2015

Glen Robitaille was born in Toronto February 26, 1918. He was schooled principally in Ohio and California, but completed his education at King George High in Vancouver.

In 1934, he started in broadcasting at CKWX in Vancouver, performing general duties, next becoming a transmitter attendant – later moving to the Hotel Georgia studio as an operator, and the announcer on “Behind the Mike” and “Make Believe Ballroom”. A highlight of these early days was being the operator at the railroad station for the CKWX’s broadcast of the arrival in Vancouver in 1939 of  King George VI and Queen Elizabeth, when the platform shook so badly as the train rumbled in that his disc recorder failed to properly track due to the vibrations.

In 1942, Glen left ‘WX to join the RCAF, attending  McGill University in Montreal and teaching maintenance of secret air-to-ground radar, radio altimeters, loran and the basics of television, mostly at the Air Force technical base in Clinton, Ontario. During the last few months at Clinton he was interviewed by the chief engineer of the Canadian headquarters of the RCA Victor Company, who was recruiting technical staff.

After his discharge from the RCAF, Glen started at RCA in Montreal in 1945 as a laboratory assistant. He went on to install transmitter and technical and antenna equipment for 17 broadcasting stations from New Brunswick to Alberta.

Due to his excessive travel schedule which was preying on his responsibilities as a husband and father, in April 1949 Glen left RCA as a junior engineer to accept the position of Director of Engineering with CFPL in London, Ontario. In 1952 and 1953, he was responsible for the technical design, purchase and installation of all equipment for the London Free Press’ new television station – CFPL-TV.

In 1953, Glen was appointed Radio and Television Director at CFPL-TV; in 1955 – Radio and Television Director of Engineering; 1959 – Director of Engineering, Electronics Division; 1963 – Director of Engineering, Broadcast Division, and in 1968 – Director of Engineering, CFPL Broadcasting Limited. He retired with distinction on February 28, 1983, as Vice-President, Engineering, of London Free Press Holdings Limited – the licensee of its broadcasting stations.

Glen was recognized for the dominant role which he played throughout his career in the development of Canadian broadcasting. He served on several committees of the Canadian Association of Broadcasters, as well as on the United States National Association of Broadcasters. He was the first chairman of the Canadian Telecasting Practices Committee; the first chairman of the Central Canada Broadcasters Association’s Engineering Section and was Chairman of the Canadian Standards Association Technical Committee on videotape standards. He was a founding member of the Canadian Section of Society of Motion Picture and Television Engineers.

Following his 1983 retirement, under the auspices of the Canadian Executive Services Organization (CESO), which recruited and provided retired executives to developing countries, Glen was a volunteer consultant to broadcasting entities in Columbia, Jamaica and Guatemala.  

Glen Robitaille, (familiarly known to his many friends as “Robbie”) was twice the recipient of the Keith S. Rogers Award, presented by Canadian General Electric for outstanding contributions to Broadcasting in Canada – one for his leadership as the first chairman of the association of Central Canada Broadcasters Engineers (CCBE), and the second for his design and installation of the unattended night-time operation of radio station CFPL’s Studio.

For his retirement years, Glen chose the City of Kamloops, BC.  Glen died there on June 21st 2015.