Maclean Hunter Limited (1887-1994)

Early Years

In 1887, John Bayne Maclean acquired the publication, Canadian Grocer. The company was incorporated in 1891 as J.B. Maclean Publishing Co. Ltd. In 1905, he bought The Business Magazine, later changing the name to Busy Man’s Magazine and then to Maclean’s in 1911. Maclean and friend Stewart Houston founded The Financial Post in 1907. The Chatelaine (later renamed Chatelaine) was launched in 1928. The company entered French publishing in 1930. Over time, Maclean ventured into international publishing with titles in the U.S. and Britain. The company’s large printing plant opened in Toronto in 1948 and received a Governor General’s medal for architectural distinction. J.B. Maclean passed away in 1950 and majority ownership and control was passed to Horace T. Hunter. He had joined the company in 1903 and over time acquired a substantial minority ownership and became president in 1933. The Hunter name was added to the company in 1945 (Maclean-Hunter). Other magazines and publications were added to the portfolio over the years.

Over the years, Maclean-Hunter would diversify and expand under three chief executive officers: Floyd S. Chalmers, Donald F. Hunter and Donald G. Campbell. Company presidents over the years: John Bayne Maclean (1887-33), Horace Talmadge Hunter (1933-52), Floyd Chalmers (1952-64), Donald Fleming Hunter (1964-76), Frederick T. Metcalf (1977-84), Donald Graham Campbell (1984-86) and Ronald Osborne (1986-94).


Horace Hunter died. At the time of his death he was chairman of the company. 

Maclean Hunter moved into trade shows with the Plastics Show of Canada.


Maclean-Hunter Publishing Limited teamed up with Clare L. Chambers and Donald G. Hildebrand to form Great Lakes Broadcasting Limited. Through this partnership, Maclean-Hunter entered the broadcasting business when Great Lakes acquired CFCO-AM Chatham from John Beardall. Maclean-Hunter owned 50% of Great Lakes with each of the other partners holding 25%.


Great Lakes Broadcasting acquired CFOR-AM in Orillia from Gordon Smith.


Kitchener-Waterloo Broadcasting Co. Ltd. (J. Irving Zucker) sold CKCR-AM and FM in Kitchener to Great Lakes Broadcasting Ltd. Don Hildebrand was president of Great Lakes and would be general manager of the Kitchener stations. After this purchase, Great Lakes Broadcasting Ltd. and Kitchener-Waterloo Broadcasting Co. Ltd. amalgamated to form Great Lakes Broadcasting System Ltd. and the call letters of the Kitchener stations were changed to CHYM-AM-FM. 

Maclean-Hunter’s stock was listed and became publicly traded.       


Maclean-Hunter received approval to purchase Shoreacres Broadcasting Co. Ltd. from the Globe & Mail, Westinghouse Electric Corp. and Canadian Westinghouse Co. Ltd. Shoreacres was the owner of CKEY-AM in Toronto. Donald Hunter, president of Maclean-Hunter said his company would acquire 100% of CKEY and it would be held directly by MH and not by its radio subsidiary, Great Lakes Broadcasting.


Maclean-Hunter purchased control of Voice of the Prairies Ltd. (CFCN-AM, CFVP-SW and CFCN-TV Ltd.) from CFCN Communications Ltd. (Love family). MH kept the CFCN Communications name for this new division.  This got M-H on the Board of the CTV Network;  Donald Campbell became a director of CTV and served on the Board for several years.


Maclean-Hunter entered the cable television business.


Greatlakes Broadcasting System Ltd. came under the complete control of Maclean- Hunter when the publishing company bought out partners D.G. Hildebrand and C.L. Chambers. Donald F. Hunter, head of Maclean-Hunter would be president of Greatlakes. 

CFCN Television Ltd. was given approval to operate a television station in Lethbridge. It would be a part-time rebroadcaster of CFCN-TV Calgary.

Maclean-Hunter Publishing Company became Maclean-Hunter Limited.


The company entered the book distribution business.


With the acquisition of Data Business Forms, MH was now in the world of business forms.


Maclean-Hunter got into radio paging.


CHYM-FM Kitchener was renamed CKGL-FM.


Maclean-Hunter sold its 50% interest in CFOR Orillia to Countryside Holdings Ltd. 

The company entered the U.S. cable market with the purchase of Suburban Cablevision in New Jersey.


Prior to his premature death, Donald Hunter relinquished control of Maclean-Hunter to the company itself. This saw a total re-organization of the Maclean-Hunter group of companies (16 cable systems and the CFCN/Shoreacres/Great Lakes broadcasting group). At the CRTC hearing on the matter, reservations were expressed regarding the nearly 10% equity of the Toronto-Dominion Bank in the new company, Maclean-Hunter Holdings Ltd. The shares had been held by Hunco and D.F. Hunter. Effective control of Maclean-Hunter Ltd. was now held by the directors and senior management. 

The Voice of The Prairies Ltd. (CFCN-AM) was granted a licence by the CRTC for an FM station at Calgary. CJAY-FM went on the air the following year.


Maclean-Hunter subsidiary CKEY Limited was given approval to purchase CKOY-AM and CKBY-FM Ottawa. The stations had been owned by Southam Press Ltd. 

Although publishing was still the largest single component, it had declined to 50% of the company’s total revenue.


Maclean-Hunter acquired 90% of Maritime Broadcasting Co. Ltd. from L.F.D. Investments Ltd., Newton Holdings Ltd., The West Gore Investments Co. Ltd. and Premium Holdings Ltd. Maritime owned CHNS-AM, CHFX-FM and CHNX-SW in Halifax.


CKEY Limited and CKOY Limited amalgamated to become KEY Radio Ltd.


Maclean-Hunter, through its subsidiary Key Radio Ltd., acquired the remaining 10% interest in Maritime Broadcasting not already held. 

CFCN Communications received a licence for an FM station in Edmonton and CJAX-FM went on the air later in the year.

Maclean-Hunter dropped the hyphen in its name, becoming Maclean Hunter Limited.


Maclean-Hunter entered the daily newspaper business with the purchase of 51% of Toronto Sun Publishing Corp.


Great Lakes Broadcasting System Ltd. was merged into Key Radio Ltd.


Donald Campbell became President of Maclean-Hunter.


Ronald W. Osborne became chief executive officer, and joined the Board of the CTV Network.

CJAX-FM Edmonton became CKNG-FM.

Maritime Broadcasting acquired 90% of Eastern Broadcasting Co. Ltd. The managers of the individual stations would hold a 6% interest in their respective operations and Jack Schoone would hold 10%. Eastern had been equally owned by J. Irving Zucker and Jack Schoone. Schoone became president of Maritime, as well as of Eastern. Involved in the transfer: CKCW and CFQM-FM Moncton, CJCW Sussex, CFAN Newcastle, CKNB Campbellton, CFCY and CHLQ-FM Charlottetown.

Mervyn Russell’s application for an independent FM station at Saint John was approved by the CRTC. Eastern Broadcasting Co. Ltd. would hold effective control of the company to be incorporated as the principal shareholder with 70% of the issued voting shares, and Mervyn Russell would hold the remaining 30%. The station – CIOK-FM – went on the air the following year.


CKO acquired Newsradio from Key Radio Ltd. The news audio service, based at CKEY Toronto, was established in 1968 by Stephens & Towndrow. Key Radio president Steve Harris said despite Newsradio’s successful track record (from 70 to 120 subscribers in the past year), it remained impractical for Key to operate a full-scale national news service. 

Rogers Broadcasting sold CHYR/CHYR-7 Leamington, CKJD-AM and CJFI-FM Sarnia to Blue Water Broadcasting Ltd. (67% owned by Eastern Broadcasting, 24% by Don Chamberlain and 9% by Gerald Kennedy). Eastern was 90% Owned by Maritime Broadcasting, a subsidiary of Maclean-Hunter.

Maclean-Hunter marked 100 years as a company. It started out in a one room office as a one man publishing venture. It was now a diversified communications company with around 9,900 employees and gross revenue of over $1 billion.

Donald Campbell was chairman of the board.


Maclean-Hunter merged its Maritime Broadcasting Co. Ltd. and Eastern Broadcasting Co. Ltd. into Maritime Broadcasting System Limited.


Moffat Communications Limited and Maclean-Hunter formed Moffat-MH Radio to acquire CHED and CKNG-FM Edmonton from Moffat Communications Limited and CFCN Communications Limited (MH). Under the proposed shareholders’ agreement, Moffat would hold 72.5% of the common voting shares with CFCN holding the remaining 27.5%. The shareholders’ agreement provided for CFCN’s share of the new company to be increased to 35% during the first three years of its operation, at the option of either CFCN or Moffat and that both CKNG-FM and CHED would be managed on a day-to-day basis by Moffat, with overall direction provided by a Board of Directors comprised of representatives of each of Moffat and CFCN. 

The CRTC approved Maclean-Hunter’s purchase of Selkirk Communications Ltd. MH spun off most of the Selkirk properties to other companies, keeping CFNY-FM Brampton, CHCH-TV Hamilton and some cable properties. For the time being it also held CJCA-AM and CIRK-FM Edmonton but would have to sell them as soon as possible. With the acquisition of CFNY-FM, MH remained the third-largest private radio broadcaster in revenues, but would become the fourth-largest in audience. MH ranked 12th and 14th among Canadian television broadcasters in revenues and audience, respectively. With the addition of CHCH-TV, MH would become the seventh-largest private television broadcaster in Canada. MH was the third largest cable operator in the country.

At the time of sale, Selkirk had indirect ownership of some 23 radio stations and of various radio network undertakings that offered news, talk and music programs to Selkirk’s own and other radio stations on a syndicated basis. Selkirk owned 100% of the licensee companies operating CFAC-TV Calgary, CFAC-TV-7 Lethbridge and CHCH-TV Hamilton, and 50% of the voting shares in Okanagan Television Co. Ltd. It was the sole owner, indirectly, of cable systems serving metropolitan Ottawa, Pembroke and other Ottawa Valley communities. Selkirk also held a 36.9% interest in British Columbia Broadcasting Company Ltd. as well as minority interests in Canadian Satellite Communications Inc. and Cybermedix Limited (owner of CableNet Limited, with various radio and cable holdings). Southam Inc. was by far the company’s largest equity holder.

Rogers Broadcasting purchased the following Selkirk radio stations from Maclean Hunter: CFHC Banff/Canmore, CJPR Blairmore, CFAC Calgary, CFGP Grande Prairie, CJOC / CILA-FM Lethbridge, CISQ Squamish/Whistler, CKWX / CKKS-FM Vancouver, CJIB Vernon, and CJVI Victoria. The television stations were sold to Western International Communications. This included 100% of CFAC-TV/CFAC-TV-1 Calgary/Lethbridge. The remaining stations were already partially owned by Western: CHBC-TV Kelowna, CHAN-TV Vancouver, and CHEK-TV Victoria. 

Tantramar Broadcasting Ltd. (Fred Arenburg and Geoff de Gannes Ltd.) was purchased by Maritime Broadcasting Co.


After some 46 years on Toronto’s AM dial, CKEY was replaced by CKYC. Key Radio Ltd. had changed the station’s format to country, so KEY 590 became known as Country 59. 

Maclean Hunter sold off the last of the Selkirk radio properties that it didn’t plan to keep. Western World Communications Corp. acquired CJCA / CIRK-FM Edmonton.


CHYM-AM and CKGL-FM swapped dial positions. CHYM and its adult contemporary format moved to 96.7 FM and CKGL with its country format, moved to AM 570.

The CRTC approved the applications by a partnership between Moffat Communications Limited and Manipro Ltd. for authority to acquire the assets of CKNG and CHED Edmonton from Moffat-MH Radio. Moffat-MH Radio was a partnership in which Moffat Communications Limited has a 67.5% interest and CFCN Productions Limited a 32.5% interest. The basis of this transaction was for Moffat to acquire CFCN’s interest in this partnership and to continue the partnership in order to facilitate the sale of CKNG and CHED to a third party. As a result of this transaction, the effective control of the licenses would not change. Moffat’s interest in the partnership would be increased to 99%. Manipro Ltd. would have a 1% interest. The Commission then approved the applications by Westcom Radio Group Ltd. for approval to subsequently acquire the assets of CKNG-FM and CHED. Westcom was part of Western Broadcasting Co. Ltd. of Vancouver.

Western Broadcasting acquired CHCH-TV Hamilton from Maclean Hunter.

The CRTC approved the sale by CFCN Communications of CFCN-AM, CFVP Short Wave and CJAY-FM (including CJAY-1 Banff and CJAY-3 Invermere) to Standard Broadcasting Corp. Maclean-Hunter did try to sell CFCN-TV as well but the asking price was not met.


On December 19, the CRTC approved the applications by Rogers Communications Inc.for authority to acquire effective control of Maclean Hunter Limited – conditional on further applications being filed, within twelve months, for authority to transfer effective control of CFCN-TV Calgary and CFCN-TV-5 Lethbridge to a third party, and that RCI likewise divest of MHL’s indirect shareholdings within CTV Television Network Ltd. These stations were eventually sold to Baton Broadcasting. The acquisition further strengthened Baton’s position on the Board of CTV, which would eventually lead to Baton gaining control of the Network.

At the time of the sale, M-H owned the following radio and television stations across Canada
CFCN-TV Calgary and CFCN-TV-5 Lethbridge, AB
CKCY-AM Toronto and CFNY-FM Brampton, ON
CIWW-AM and CKBY-FM Ottawa, ON
CKGL-AM and CHYM-FM Kitchener, ON
CFCO Chatham, ON
CKTY-AM and CFGX-FM Sarnia, ON
CHYR-FM Leamington, ON
CKDH-AM Amherst, NS
CKNB-AM Campbellton, NB
CKCW-AM and CFQM-FM Moncton, NB
CFAN-AM Newcastle, NB
CIOK-FM Saint John, NB
CJCW-AM Sussex, NB
CFCY-AM and CHLQ-FM Charlottetown, PE
14.3% of the voting shares of CTV Television Network Limited
60% partnership interest in The Partners of MH Radio/Rawlco Partnership, licensee of the country music video specialty undertaking “The Country Network”.

Maclean Hunter Limited (1887-1994) Radio Stations

(Click on the call letters to view individual station histories)

CFAN-FM99.3Miramichi, NB
CFCO-AM630Chatham, ON
CFCY-FM95.1Charlottetown, PE
CFGX-FM99.9Sarnia, ON
CFNY-FM102.1Toronto (Brampton), ON
CFQM-FM103.9Moncton, NB
CFVP-SW6030Calgary, AB
CHFX-FM101.9Halifax, NS
CHKS-FM106.3Sarnia, ON
CHKT-AM1430Toronto, ON
CHLQ-FM93.1Charlottetown, PE
CHNS-FM89.9Halifax, NS
CHNX-SW6110Halifax, NS
CHYM-FM96.7Kitchener-Waterloo, ON
CHYR-FM96.7Leamington, ON
CICX-FM105.9Orillia, ON
CIOK-FM100.5Saint John, NB
CIRK-FM97.3Edmonton, AB
CISS-FM105.3Ottawa, ON
CIWW-AM1310Ottawa, ON
CJCA-AM930Edmonton, AB
CJCW-AM590Sussex, NB
CKCW-FM94.5Moncton, NB
CKDH-FM101.7Amherst, NS
CKGL-AM570Kitchener-Waterloo, ON
CKNB-AM950Campbellton, NB
CKNG-FM92.5Edmonton, AB

Maclean Hunter Limited (1887-1994) Television Stations

(Click on the call letters to view individual station histories)

CFCN-DT4.1 (29)Calgary, AB
CFCN-DT-513.1 (13)Lethbridge, AB
CHCH-DT15 (11.1)Hamilton, ON