CNR Continues to Show the Way

The CNR also built its own facilities in cities where it relied on its phantom licenses for transmission. Large and modern studios were built in Toronto’s King Edward Hotel, in its own Hotel Nova Scotian in Halifax and in the King’s Hall Building on Montreal’s St. Catherine’s Street West, with broadcasts fed to the phantom stations’ transmitters for local airing. In 1925, the third CNR-owned station, CNRV, went on the air in Vancouver from the railway’s impressive passenger terminal, proudly proclaiming itself “the voice of the Pacific.” However, CNRV had to do without CNR networked programs from all points east until such time as CN Telegraphs would complete the installation of its current carrier equipment. On December 1, 1929, with the CNT now fully operational from coast-to-coast, CNRV physically joined the CNR’s Radio network.

(Some readers who are familiar with the founding and growth in the 50s of the CBC Television Network may wonder if CNRV could have been provided with recorded copies of CNR programs fed over the eastern networks – also, if phantom stations might have recorded some networked programs for release at a more appropriate local time. All CNR programs had to be broadcast “live”. This was a time in history when stations did not have recording equipment of any kind which would have facilitated “delayed broadcasts”. That came later (mid 30’s) with the introduction of the laminated aluminum 16″ electrical transcriptions, and later (mid 40’s) the invention of tape recording equipment.)

Programming, too, had been improved and expanded. French broadcasts had been featured since the opening of the phantom station CNRM in Montreal in 1924. Broadcasts in native Canadian languages had started in 1927 from CNRO Ottawa and CNRW Winnipeg. CNRA Moncton catered to Maritime musical tastes with such popular regional events as the Old -Time Fiddlers contests and fed them to the full network. CNRT Toronto signed an exclusive agreement with the prestigious Hart House String Quartet, and the Toronto Symphony for a series of 25 broadcasts. CNRV Vancouver originated several Beethoven Centenary programs. CNRM Montreal mounted complete productions of Gilbert and Sullivan operettas with full orchestras and choruses of 50 voices. And Sir Tyrone Guthrie was brought from England to direct the big-budget dramatic series, The Romance of Canada, sponsored by Imperial Oil.