Réal Therrien (1926-1987)

Real Terrien

Year Born: 1926

Year Died: 1987

Year of Induction: 1988

Pioneer – Member of CAB Hall of Fame

Therrien, Réal (1926-1987)

Réal Therrien was one of the few people appointed to a Canadian broadcasting regulatory board with practical experience in radio, television and telecommunications. He was appointed for a 7-year term as a CRTC commissioner on April 1, 1968 – the same date on which the CRTC itself came into being. He was re-appointed to a further 7- year term in 1975, and named Vice-Chairman of the Commission on April 8, 1980.

He chaired the CRTC Committee on extension of services to northern and other less served communities. The Committee’s July 1980 Report, known as the “Therrien Report”, was quickly recognized as a public message to all Canadians. The impact was immediate, and the fallout can still be felt today.

Born in St. Cyrille of Wendover in the Quebec Eastern Townships, he graduated from the University of Ottawa and Laval University in arts and engineering. He was a former student of the University of Ottawa School of Music, and while still a student in 1947, was given a French Literature Award. Among positions he held – he was Director of Telecommunications for the Laurentian Forest Protective Association; in 1952, Professor of Telecommunications in the RCAF; in 1954, a research engineer with RCA Victor in Montreal; in 1955, a project engineer and regional engineer for the Quebec Telephone Company in Rimouski and Sept-Iles, and technical director of stations CJBR-AM-FM-TV. In 1965, he became a Director of the Canadian Overseas Corporation (Teleglobe).

Réal Therrien’s contribution to the broadcasting industry was appropriately expressed at the time of his unexpected death in 1987 by CRTC Chairman, André Bureau:

“The Canadian broadcasting and telecommunications system has lost one of its greatest champions. Réal Therrien gave nearly 40 years of his life to Canadian communications. In the course of his 20 years with the Commission he contributed greatly to the extension of community services, taking a particular interest in those who because of distance, handicap or ethnic origin, were less well-served by the system”.

“In addition to being closely involved in all of the work on both the broadcasting and telecommunications sides, Mr. Therrien had a particular affection for people in isolated communities, especially those in the Canadian North. He wanted to ensure for his fellow citizens the same quality and variety of broadcasting and telecommunications services enjoyed in urban areas to offset their isolation. His tireless work, his humanity, his common sense and practical experience were invaluable to the Commission.”

Mr. Bureau’s tribute to Réal Therrien speaks for anyone who knew or came in contact with him.

The Réal Therrien Foundation, established in 1989 by SUPER ÉCRAN : TVEC Inc., provides the hearing impaired greater access to audio visual products through the provision of French subtitles.

In 1988, Réal Therrien was posthumously inducted into the CAB Broadcast Hall of Fame.

Written by J. Lyman Potts – February, 1997