CNR Radio Out – CRBC In

On January 18, 1933, Bennett appointed the three members of the Canadian Radio Broadcasting Commission (CRBC) who would build a new national system. The CRBC would buy the facilities and acquire the licences of the CNR. Private radio would remain, but it would be confined to local operations and local affiliations with the CRBC Network. U.S. networks affiliations in Toronto, Montreal and Windsor were “grandfathered” in. Also, regulation of all broadcasting would be vested in the CRBC.

The transfer from CNR to CRBC operation was phased-in gradually and, on April 1, 1933, the CNR Radio system died in name only. The CRBC got the three CNR-owned stations, the Montreal studios and some extra control gear in Winnipeg for $50,000. CNRA Moncton was soon shut down, pending its relocation to a new and more powerful transmitter at Sackville, New Brunswick. Under the terms of the Canadian National Railways-Canadian Pacific Railway Act of 1933, the two companies began to “pool” their telegraph operations. On the day that its radio network was signed away, the two railways signed a contract to provide their carrier-current telegraph system for four hours of nightly, non-commercial or sustaining programming use by the CRBC, as well as for an additional half-hour each weekday for educational broadcasts. This would carry the CRBC to 39 stations in 34 cities. The provision of these vital long lines would, indirectly, keep the CNR involved in broadcasting for another 50 years.

After he left Canada, Thornton wrote to his good friend, John Dafoe, editor of The Winnipeg Free Press, “I shall leave my reputation to the future, feeling as I do that when the blood lust of political vindictiveness has run its course, justice will be done. At any rate, the successor administration will inherit a danged sight better property than was given me….”