CBHT-DT, CBC-TV, Halifax

Canadian Broadcasting Corp.

StationYearChannelNetwork AffiliateOwner/Info
CBHT-DT20113.1 (39)CBCCanadian Broadcasting Corp.
CBHT-TV19543CBCCanadian Broadcasting Corp.


The CBC had opened the country’s first television stations last September – CBFT Montreal and CBLT Toronto – and now had plans for stations in Vancouver, Ottawa, Halifax and Winnipeg.
The Department of Transport came out with a national assignment of television channels for Canada. The CBC’s Halifax station would operate on channel 3 and could have a maximum video power of 100,000 watts.

Early January of 1954 was the probable start date for construction of the 550 foot tower atop Geizer’s Hill on the city’s outskirts. It was hoped CBHT could launch in the summer.


A steel industry strike halted work on the 500 foot Wavestack antenna but CBHT was still hoping to be on the air before Christmas, using a temporary antenna with reduced power of 30,000 watts. Reception was expected to be satisfactory up to 70 miles from the Geizer’s Hill transmitter site. 

The CBC opened CBHT-TV, channel 3, on December 20, from temporary studios at College Street School and using a temporary antenna, the second TV station on the air in Nova Scotia. CJCB-TV Sydney had started on October 9.

The CBC Network programs were run on a delay basis via kinescope. 

Don Tremaine read the news, then Max Ferguson, well known to radio audiences across the country as “Rawhide”, was the host of GAZETTE, a nightly news magazine show with Rube Hornstein doing the weather and Pat Connolly on sports. 


Work was underway on a new concrete and brick and stone building. When done, the station would move from its existing wooden frame former school building – hopefully, late in the year. 

A 100,000 watt transmitter was installed on top of Geizer’s Hill, extending CBHT-TV’s coverage to the Annapolis Valley, South Shore and central and eastern parts of the province.

Along with the regularly scheduled shows, CBHT-TV covered the opening of the Angus L. MacDonald Bridge connecting Halifax and Darmouth, replacing the ferries, and the Canso Causeway connecting Cape Breton Island to the mainland.

CBHT joined the CBS Television Network as a secondary affiliate.

Carl MacCaull was program director of CBHT.


In October, CBHT-TV’s new Building on Bell Road opened, and the level of production increased significantly. The Don Messer Show premiered on November 16th as a regional presentation. From the same small studio, CBHT produced drama (MRS. BYNG’S BOARDERS), musical cabaret (THE ALIBI ROOM), current affairs (CITY REPORTER), local sports and news.

From the beginning, CBHT-TV was noted for its experimental programming making the most of an area with abundant talent. Many shows were sent to the regional network after the first few programs and several each year were carried on the full CBC Network.

CBHT-TV began a tradition which continued for many years, the extensive employment of musical talent in the region. THE SOUNDS OF JAZZ, DOWNEASTERS (bluegrass), and REFLECTIONS (light orchestral and show tunes) were among shows which attracted faithful viewers.


139 microwave units across Canada went into operation on July 1, carrying TV signals 3,900 miles over the longest microwave network in the world. The CBC’s Dominion Day program “Memo to Champlain” inaugurated the system. The network linked together Canada’s 40 privately owned TV stations and 8 CBC stations, providing live TV to 80% of the Canadian population between Victoria, B.C. and Sydney, N.S. Newfoundland was expected to be on the network in 1959. The CBC, in cooperation with CFRN-TV Edmonton, CKCK-TV Regina, CKLW-TV Windsor and CHSJ-TV Saint John, used the inaugural program as an electronic travelogue to visit 15 Canadian cities. The microwave network was called the Trans-Canada Skyway. 

CBHT pioneered outside broadcasting in Canada with its coverage of the Springhill Mine Disaster, and also with the presentation of the first live televised heart operation.
For the first time, a nation wide audience would be able to watch the CBC’s federal election coverage. CBC-TV was now connected to Calgary and Edmonton in the west and the four Maritime provinces in the east. U.S. facilities would complete extension to British Columbia.

According to Elliott-Haynes CBHT had a total of 175,478 adult viewers every day.

Don Blais was assistant technical producer.

The CBC was using an unmanned satellite-type relay system developed by RCA Victor, featuring “en route coverage” to link CBHT with transmitters at Liverpool, Shelburne and Yarmouth. This was not microwave or power boosting by CATV, but coverage where receivers between the stations could pick up broadcasts – the first system of its kind in Canada. Programs on CBHT were transmitted on channel 3 from Halifax, picked up at Liverpool and then sent out over a different channel to Shelburne where they went out over another channel to be picked up at Yarmouth and sent out over yet another channel. The rebroadcast transmitters at Liverpool (CBHT-1 channel 8) and Shelburne (CBHT-2 channel 12) went on the air November 24 and the Yarmouth (CBHT-3 channel 11) transmitter began operations on December 20. 


Sydney Kennedy was appointed CBC director for the Maritimes, succeeding Capt. W.E.S. Briggs. Kennedy had been program director for the Maritime region since 1952. He started in broadcasting in 1937 at CFCY and joined CBC Halifax in May of 1941 as an operator. He later became an announcer in Sackville, moved back to Halifax in 1942 as chief announcer, became a producer in 1944 and then station manager in 1948. Briggs started in radio in 1935. He moved to CBC Ottawa in 1937, as special events producer, actuality commentator and subsequently station manager. In 1938, he became assistant manager for the Maritimes and manager for that region in 1945. In 1948, he opened CBI, CBAF and CBHT in 1954, CBHT’s three satellites in 1958, and CBAFT in 1959.

Keith Barry was outside broadcasts producer.
CBC planned to build an addition to its Halifax TV building on Bell Road and to buy city-owned land for the project. This would consolidate Radio and TV under one roof. At this time, radio was in a privately-owned office building, a block from the proposed site.


“Don Messer’s Jubilee” was the most watched television show in the Canada, outdrawing “Hockey Night in Canada” and “The Ed Sullivan Show”. Messer’s show continued until its controversial cancellation in 1969.

Also in 1961, CBHT-TV began an eleven year run of SINGALONG JUBILEE, which was a network summer show. The program helped establish the careers of many Canadian musical legends, including Anne Murray, Gene MacLellan, Ken Tobias, Brian Ahern and John Allan Cameron.


CBHT-4 went on the air at Sheet Harbour on February 19. 


CBHT had an effective radiated power of 56,000 watts video and 34,000 watts audio. It operated the following rebroadcasters: CBHT-1 (channel 12) Liverpool, CBHT-2 (8) Shelburne, CBHT-3 (11) Yarmouth and CBHT-4 (11) Sheet Harbour.


FRANK’S BANDSTAND was a network hit from 1965-67 as part of the teen dance show “Music Hop”.


Network colour broadcasting arrived at CBHT in September, and the station produced its first colour telecast, “CHRISTMAS EVE WITH CATHERINE MACKINNON”.


W.G. Allen was news supervisor.

On September 15, television viewers in the Maritimes and Newfoundland began seeing CBC network programs an hour earlier. Because of time zone differences these viewers had long been seeing programs at a later hour than other parts of the country. The network was now showing its programs at local times, corresponding whenever possible, to scheduling elsewhere in Canada. The change was thanks to video tape recording equipment for television, with instant replay for programs – colour and black & white. The CBC Halifax video tape centre was the key point for the operation with microwave facilities being used during the night hours to feed programs from Toronto for showing the following day. The national newscast produced live in Toronto for transmission directly via closed circuit microwave to Halifax for viewers in the Maritimes and Newfoundland who would now see it at 11 p.m. Atlantic Time and 11:30 Newfoundland Time. A second edition of the newscast was then transmitted an hour later (11 p.m. Eastern Time) for viewing in Central Canada. 


On September 12, CBHT channel 3 was authorized to increase effective radiated power from 56,000 watts video and 8,400 watts audio to 100,000 watts video and 10,000 watts audio. Antenna height would increase from 680 feet to 846 feet.  The antenna pattern would go from directional to non-directional.

CBHT was authorized to add CBCT-1 New Glasgow (channel 7, 209 watts video and 104 watts audio). It had been a transmitter of CBCT Charlottetown (channel 12 237 watts video and 23.7 watts audio) and had been on the air since August 1, 1968 


CBHT-TV launched its agriculture and resources show LAND AND SEA, fed to all three Maritime provinces.

The technical changes approved last year were never adopted. On October 21, CBHT was granted the following technical changes: effective radiated power of 56,000 watts video and 5,600 watts audio, and antenna height of 866 feet (directional).


CBHT-1 at Liverpool (channel 12) was authorized to increase power from 426 watts video and 256 watts audio to 970 watts video and 97 watts audio. Antenna height would remain 647 feet and a directional pattern would continue to be used.

CBHT-4 Sheet Harbour (channel 11) received approval to increase effective radiated power from 660 watts video and 330 watts audio to 9,070 watts video and 814 watts audio. It would retain the directional pattern and antenna height of 368 feet.

CBCT-1 New Glasgow was authorized to move from channel 7 to channel 4, increase effective radiated power from 209 watts video and 104 watts audio to 600 watts video and 60 watts audio. It would retain its directional pattern and increase antenna height from 418 feet to 422 feet. The changes authorized for this transmitter in 1969 were never implemented. CBCT-1 would now change its program source from CBCT Charlottetwon to CBHT-4 Sheet Harbour. The New Glasgow call sign would change from CBCT-1 to CBHT-5.


CBIT-TV Sydney went on the air on September 26. 

On September 30, CBHT-11 went on the air at Mulgrave.


On December 1, CBHT-14 Aspen and CBHT-15 Country Harbour Mine went on the air.


CBHT-13 Goshen, CBHT-17 Sunnybrae, CBHT-18 Blue Mountain and CBHT-19 Garden of Eden signed on the air January 9.


CBHT-6 Middleton began operations on January 21.


CBHT-TV produced the popular children’s show SWITCHBACK, which went on to enjoy a nine-year run. 


On March 1, CBHT-7 went on the air in Digby.

CBHT-12 Lochaber began operations on August 1.

On October 30, CBHT-8 went on the air in Truro.


CBHT-9 commenced operations on February 7 at Caledonia.

On May 6, CBHT-16 Sherbrooke began broadcasting.


On March 5, CBHT received approval to make the following technical changes toe CBHT -14 Aspen: increase the power from 8.9 watts (transmitter power) to 95 watts (effective radiated power) and change the channel from 2 to 5. These changes would improve coverage to the west side of Lochaber Lake, towards the community of St. Mary’s. The CBC noted that it intended to conduct field tests to determine if the Lochaber area was adequately served by the Aspen rebroadcaster and if so, it would surrender the licence for CBHT-12 Lochaber.  

The Weymouth transmitter – CBHT-10 – signed on the air on March 28.

On September 14, CBHT-13 Goshen was authorized to change its channel from 5 to 2. This change would improve the quality of the signal in the existing coverage area and avoid channel interference with CBHT-14 Aspen. 


The comedy series CODCO was produced for the network, running until 1992. 


CBC NEWSWORLD went on-air, with Halifax as one of its major production centres. 


A network show for youth, STREET CENTS, began production. It went on to win countless national and international awards.


On December 5, 1990, the CBC announced its intention to implement, effective immediately, various reductions in service and other measures intended to address an estimated budget shortfall of approximately $108 million for the coming fiscal year. One of the changes would have CBIT Sydney receive its programming from CBHT. The station would not become a rebroadcaster, but would operate as a contributing bureau. CBIT would maintain master control facilities at Sydney so that the station could continue to broadcast station identification (including call sign, channel designation and location) as required by the Department of Communications, as well as public service announcements, occasional specials, and commercial messages. (CRTC approved in 1991)


A show for children, THEODORE TUGBOAT, began and was seen in 58 countries. Also in that year, CBHT-TV’s local news team and Newsworld cooperated to bring the world round-the-clock coverage of the Westray Mine Disaster.


In the fall, CBHT produced THIS HOUR HAS 22 MINUTES premiered as a late-night comedy show. After moving to prime time on the full Network in its second season, “22 Minutes” was established as one of the CBC’s most successful shows, winning awards and attracting an average of 1.2 million viewers per episode.

With expanded local news coverage, a continued musical showcase for regional talent (UP ON THE ROOF), increased NEWSWORLD programming, special coverage (THE COMEDY FESTIVAL, EAST COAST MUSIC AWARDS), CBHT-TV continued to be one of the CBC’s most active production centres outside of Toronto and Montreal.

Work was begun on construction of a new television studio at CBHT-TVs Bell Road building, designed to produce network programming into the 21st century.


Jim Nunn, CBHT supper hour news anchor left to host the national network’s Marketplace program. Bruce Rainnie joined CBHT from CJLS-AM in Yarmouth.


As of 2000, CBHT operated the following transmitters: CBHT-1 Liverpool, CBHT-2 Shelburne, CBHT-3 Yarmouth, CBHT-4 Sheet Harbour, CBHT-5 New Glasgow, CBHT-6 Middleton, CBHT-7 Digby, CBHT-8 Truro, CBHT-9 Caledonia, CBHT-10 Weymouth, CBHT-11 Mulgrave, CBHT-12 Lochaber, CBHT-13 Goshen, CBHT-14 Aspen, CBHT-15 Country Harbour Mine, CBHT-16 Sherbrooke, CBHT-17 Sunnybrae, CBHT-18 Blue Mountain, and CBHT-19 Garden of Eden.

On November 16, the CBC received approval to increase effective radiated power for CBHT-1 Liverpool from 970 watts to 1,127 watts.


CBC decided to sell its landmark building on Sackville Street in downtown Halifax and house all of its radio and TV operations under one roof on Bell Road. The building on Bell Road would be upgraded and expanded to include an extra 35,000 square feet. The work was expected to be done by December of 2013.

On November 17, the CRTC approved the application by the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation to amend the licence for CBHT-TV to add a post-transition digital transmitter in order to serve the population of Halifax. The transmitter would operate on channel 39 with an average effective radiated power of 92,590 watts (maximum ERP of 157,540 watts with an effective height of antenna above average terrain of 266.47 metres).


On March 29, the CRTC administratively renewed the licence for CBHT-TV until August 31, 2012. The Commission noted that it did not intend to renew authorizations for full-power analog transmitters operating in the mandatory markets or on channels 52 to 69 outside the mandatory markets beyond August 31, 2011.

By that time, the Commission expected licensees to have the necessary authority to broadcast in digital. In addition, the Commission imposed the following condition of licence on stations that operated in mandatory markets or on channels 52 to 69 outside the mandatory markets: Unless otherwise authorized by the Commission, the licensee shall not transmit analog television signals after 31 August 2011 in mandatory markets designated as such by the Commission in Broadcasting Regulatory Policy 2011-184 or transmit television signals on channels 52 to 69. The CRTC also noted that pursuant to Broadcasting Regulatory Policy 2010-69, it did not intend to renew authorizations to operate transitional digital transmitters included in these licences, beyond August 31, 2011. 

On August 16, the CRTC approved applications by the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation to amend the broadcasting licence of CBHT-7 Digby and CBHT-8 Truro in order to change the status from protected station to low-power unprotected station. Since the technical parameters approved in this decision were for low-power unprotected television services, the Commission reminded the applicant that it would have to choose another channel if ever the Department of Industry so required.

August 31 was the deadline for the conversion of analog to digital for television stations in mandatory markets. CBHT made the switch on this date – operating on digital channel 39 (virtual 3.1) and ending operations on analog channel 3.


On July 17, the CRTC announced that effective 1 August 2012, it would revoke the broadcasting licences for CBIT Sydney and CBKST Saskatoon and their transmitters. The Commission also approved the request to amend the licences for 23 English- and French-language television stations operated by the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation in order that reference to all analog transmitters be deleted. The CBC planned to cease operation of all these transmitters on 31 July 2012.

The licences for the following transmitters were removed from the CBHT-DT licence: CBHT-14 Aspen, CBHT-18 Blue Mountain, CBHT-9 Caledonia, CBHT-15 Country Harbour, CBHT-7 Digby, CBHT-19 Garden of Eden, CBHT-13 Goshen, CBHT-1 Liverpool, CBHT-12 Lochaber, CBHT-6 Middleton, CBHT-11 Mulgrave, CBHT-5 New Glasgow, CBHT-4 Sheet Harbour, CBHT-2 Shelburne, CBHT-16 Sherbrooke, CBHT-17 Sunnybrae, CBHT-8 Truro, CBHT-10 Weymouth, and CBHT-3 Yarmouth. The licences for the following CBIT transmitters were revoked: CBIT-17 Bay St. Lawrence, CBIT-2 Cheticamp, CBIT-16 Dingwall, CBIT-15 Ingonish, CBIT-19 Inverness, CBIT-4 Mabou, CBIT-5 Margaree, CBIT-20 Middle River, CBIT-6 Northeast Margaree, CBIT-3 Pleasant Bay, and CBIT-18 Whycocomagh. CIBT-TV Sydney operated as a retransmitter of CBHT Halifax. It did not originate any local programming.

CBC Maritimes expanded its late night local newscast to 30 minutes. The Anchor was Amy Smith.

Pat Connolly passed away at age 84. The long-time voice of the Halifax Mooseheads and member of the Nova Scotia Sports Hall of Fame began his career in broadcasting at CJCH and CBC-TV as their first sports host. After some other stops in his career, Connolly returned to Halifax in 1967, eventually becoming the voice of American Hockey League teams such as the Nova Scotia Voyageurs, Cape Breton Oilers and Halifax Citadels.


All CBC Halifax operations were now working out of the same building – for the first time. The move from TV studio on Bell Road to new facilities on Chebucto Road took place in November. 


Peter Coade retired September 30 after 53 years and a Guinness World Record for the longest career as a weather forecaster. Coade worked for the federal government’s weather service, CBC-TV Goose Bay, and CFRB Toronto. In 1990, he joined ATV Halifax and then re-joined CBC (Halifax) in 2007. On August 1, 2013, Coade’s career reached 50 years, 8 months and 21 days breaking the record held by Toronto’s Dave Devall (CFTO-TV).


Ken Publicover died at age 60 on October 6. He started out as a cameraman at CTV Halifax, eventually shifting into the role of Control Room Director. He played a large role in the development and launch of CTV Halifax’s Live at 5, the first walk-and-talk news broadcast in Canada. In 1989, he moved to CBC Halifax where he helped launch Newsworld.

Doug Kirby, 67, died on December 15. He worked at CBC Nova Scotia for four-decades as a media librarian and archivist. Kirby also worked on numerous programs including Land and Sea.


Don Goodwin, 88, died on August 21. Goodwin’s broadcasting career started at CJCH Halifax. He joined CBC Halifax in the 1950s as a television sportscaster. Working on some of the first live sports telecasts originating from the Maritimes, he was eventually asked to assist with CBC’s Olympic, Pan Am, Commonwealth and Canada Games coverage. Goodwin eventually became head of CBC Sports.

The story continues elsewhere…
Effective September 1st 2019, we will only be adding new material to these station histories in exceptional circumstances. Our intent to chronicle the early days of these radio and television stations has been achieved, and many new sources and technologies, from the CRTC website to Wikipedia, and others, are now regularly providing new information in these areas.

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