CBFT-DT, SRC-TV, Montréal

Société Radio-Canada

StationYearChannelNetwork AffiliateOwner/Info
CBFT-DT20112.1 (19)SRCSociété Radio Canada
CBFT-TV19522SRCSociété Radio-Canada


By the end of the year the CBC had chosen five sites for television stations and the CNR and CPR were working on a microwave relay system. The corporation had proposed two stations for Montreal and one each for Toronto, Ottawa and Hamilton. TV programs from the U.S. would be piped into Canada via the Hamilton station. The first station would likely be in Montreal and there would be two outlets in that city because of the two distinct languages – English and French. One difficulty for the establishment of a Toronto outlet would be the use of 25 cycle power service which presented several technical issues. Ontario Hydro had plans for conversion to 60 cycles current to be implemented within a “few years”.


The CBC announced television production centres would be established in Montreal and Toronto, and if possible, would be designed for progressive expansion if and when required. Each of the stations would be equipped with 5,000 watt transmitters with provision for a second one in Montreal to provide French language service. The CBC’s plans for a television network would go ahead as soon as communications companies established links between different centres. The first link would likely be between Montreal, Ottawa and Toronto, through either coaxial cables or short wave. 

The transmission and development department of the CBC’s engineering division announced the findings of its study on possible television transmitter sites for Montreal. The nine month survey established Mount Royal as the most practical point from which to beam TV signals to local and outlying districts.

Fergus Mutrie and Aurele Seguin, two experienced CBC executives, were appointed directors fo the corporation’s television activities in Toronto and Montreal respectively.


Montreal’s Radio-Canada Building opened May 18. Dr. J.J. McCann cut the ribbon that officially opened the building, before more than a thousand guests. Speeches by Dr. McCann, CBC general manager Dr. Augustin Frigon and CBC Chairman Davidson Dunton were delivered during a 15 minute coast to coast broadcast. The building was the former Ford Hotel, purchased by the CBC in September of 1948. It took over two years to modernize and adopt the building to the demands of radio and television. The 12 storey building would be home to the French network, International Service, CBC Montgreal television, and the national offices of the personnel and administration division, the engineering division and the executive. Over 600 CBC employees and another 600 radio artists were required to produce the 18 hours of programming that would leave the building each day. The programs were in two languages for home listening, and 14 languages for the international service. When finished, the building would have 26 modern radio studios and three for television. Four 50,000 watt transmitters had already been installed – two FM and two for shortwave. The news rooms, recording rooms and large master control were already in place. The control room could handle five transmitters, eight outgoing and seven incoming networks and the 26 studios. It was an automatic operation to a great extent.

The CBC announced that television in Canada would be started sometime in January of 1952 in Toronto. It had earlier been hoped that September would see the first TV transmissions in Toronto. In Montreal, final confirmation of the use of the Mount Royal antenna site came in May. The Montreal station would likely be on the air next spring, but would be subject to change due to building shortages, particularly in steel. Toronto would have two studios – one with 5,000 square feet and one with 2,000 square feet – plus a film library and transmission rooms. The estimated cost was $2,000,000 for studios and equipment in Toronto. Toronto would be the main production centre in English at the outset, producing some three hours of programming per day, of which about two hours would have to be supplied to Montreal. The Montreal station would be bilingual, but most of its originations would be French. In the future, it was hoped that some English productions would be made in Montreal.

The CBC confirmed that it would use Mount Royal for a transmitter site and was submitting its plan to municipal officials. The transmitter building would have a basement and one story and would house the TV transmitter and two FM transmitters. The tower, less than 300 feet high, would have the antenna of the city’s first TV station at the very top. The two FM antennae would be underneath and there would be room for TV expansion. Engineers felt Mount Royal was the only suitable location for TV transmission following almost a year of study of all possible sites. They said the mountain was the only location to guaranty complete coverage of the metropolitan area. Tower height would be limited by civil aviation authorities in order to avoid interference with air traffic.

The CBC and Bell Telephone Co. signed a five year contract for the establishment of a TV network service. The plan called for the extension of the existing co-axial cable in Buffalo to Montreal and Toronto. The project was announced jointly by the New York and Canadian Bell companies. The Canadian phone company would undertake to lay cable between the two cities and a border point, where it would be connected to the Buffalo cable.


Engineers said the effective range of CBFT was about 58 miles.

CBFT was said to have similar facilities to what CBLT had in Toronto. CBLT had one large studio with 3 camera chain, smaller 2 camera studio, transmitter room for audio, video and CBL-FM, carpentry and paint shops, property room, dressing rooms, 2-car garage, film rooms, telecine rooms, offices, announce booths, control rooms and repair shops. 916,400 square feet, 4-storey brick and steel building on Jarvis St. (similar extension made to the Radio-Canada building in Montreal). Two motor vans housed the generator, cameras and transmitter which made up each city’s mobile unit. Operating range was about 10 miles.

In August test programs were being aired daily over CBC-TV Montreal, with live baseball games being telecast to aid in the sale of TV sets in the area. Silent films were shown with music background, and the station’s test pattern was aired from 2:00 to 8:00 p.m. Official launch of CBFT was set for September 6. The call letters CBFT were assigned (the T added to the call of the associated AM station – CBF).

A boom in the sale of television receivers was experienced in Toronto and Montreal in August, according to the Radio-Television Manufacturers Association of Canada. During the month 12,790 sets were sold in Canada, more than twice the figure for the previous month.

Canada’s first television station – CBFT – signed on the air September 6 as scheduled. The station operated in English and French and was owned by the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. CBFT operated on channel 2 with an effective radiated video power of 17,000 watts. CBLT-TV signed on in Toronto on September 8. It was Canada’s second television station. CBC and government officials were on hand for the opening of both CBFT and CBLT.

In the first week of program service, the facilities combined to air a total of 4 hours of revue and preview, 1 hour of news and documentaries, 30 minutes of musicale, 1 hour of sports actuality and discussion, 2 1/2 hours of drama, 2 3/4 hours of interviews and miscellaneous items. Films took up five and a quarter hours. The CBC was negotiating with U.S. networks CBS and NBC to bring some programs north of the border. Those talks were at a stalemate though. There was approximately 3 hours of programming per evening – a small portion exchanged by kinescope recording between CBLT and CBFT – likely to be this way for some time to come.

On September 29, Johns Hopkins Science Review started airing on CBFT and Toronto’s CBLT as the first U.S. network (DuMont) show regularly scheduled by the CBC stations.

The most popular programs on CBFT according to a September audience survey: Foreign Intrigue, Wrestling (local), Holiday Ranch (Canadian), Regal Theatre and Le roi Dagobert (Canadian). 

CBC Montreal TV studios and offices were co-located with CBC Montreal radio and the international service in the old Ford Hotel, renamed the Radio-Canada Building.


It was announced that the CBC would open a second TV station in Montreal. CBMT would be English and CBFT would switch to full-time French-language programming. A new transmitter had been ordered and would be installed along with the CBFT unit in the transmitter house on top of Mount Royal. CBMT would use the same tower and studio facilities as CBFT. 

Bell Telephone Company had begun preliminary work on a microwave relay link between Montreal and Quebec City. On May 14 at 7:30 p.m., CBFT Montreal, CBOT Ottawa (not yet on air) and CBLT Toronto were linked by a 340-mile microwave relay system.

Importation of more American network programs improved audiences of Canadian television stations where there was competition from U.S. border stations. A November ratings report showed sets-in-use figures were down slightly in the Toronto area but up slightly in Montreal and Ottawa. The leading shows in the Montreal area from CBFT: NHL Hockey (Canadian), Wrestling (Canadian), Hit Parade (Canadian), Les Pleuffe (Canadian) and Corridor Sans Issue (Canadian). The latest estimate for television receivers in Canada was 445,000 sets. In the Montreal area, 86,800 sets were in range of CBFT. CBLT had major competition from WBEN-TV in Buffalo but CBFT had no real competitors because there was only spotty and unreliable reception from the closest American stations.

NBC-RCA loaned the 26 episode series “Victory at Sea” to the CBC. It began airing on CBFT January 5 and had started on Toronto’s CBLT last December.

Aurele Seguin, former director of CBC television in Montreal, became program director for CBC radio in Quebec.

Plans for the development of a national TV network composed of privately-owned and CBC stations were tentatively agreed to in June. Present licensees agreed to carry a minimum of 10 1/2 hours of CBC-produced programs weekly.

The Bell Telephone Company’s Adelaide Street office in Toronto was the terminal point in the new 407 mile microwave relay system – the recently inaugurated heart of Canada’s three station TV network. Rising 392 feet above the street (compared with the Bank of Commerce’s 400 feet and the tower of CBLT at 500 feet), this was one of 15 such units constructed by Bell to carry television programs and telephone conversations from Buffalo to Montreal via Toronto and Ottawa or any points in between. Engineering plans for a Montreal-Quebec City expansion were already prepared and others were being worked out to reach London. The Buffalo-Toronto hop needed only one relay site – at Fonthill, near Welland. The Toronto-Ottawa section had 8 stations (Uxbridge, Bethany, Hastings, Stirling, Enterprise, Westport, Smiths Falls and Stanley Corners). Three stations connect with Montreal – at Leonard, Maxville and Rigaud. The Ottawa installation is also on top of the Bell building there. Mount Royal was chosen for the Montreal station. 

The top programs on CBFT in the summer: Film, Boxing, Foreign Intrigue, Cue for Music, Wrestling and TV Playhouse.

Florent Forget left CBFT as program director.


When CBMT signed on in January, it took some of CBFT’s program load. CBMT was the city’s first all English TV station. CBFT had been a bilingual operation since it signed on 16 months earlier. It was a problem trying to provide 50-50 service in both languages but now CBFT had the problem of having to fill 50 to 60 hours of French language production each week. At this time, the CBC was making plans for a French-language TV outlet in Ottawa-Hull and it was hoped with this new station, the cost of French language programming could be spread out between the two outlets.

CBMT shared the same Mount Royal tower as CBFT.


Gerard Lamarche was appointed CBC director for the province of Quebec. He had been with the CBC since 1942. In 1952, he was named program director of CBF and became provincial program director last year.

The CBC had plans for power increases at CBFT and CBLT and for new studio and film recording equipment for both stations.

French-language CBOFT signed on the air in Ottawa on June 24. The opening program on CBOFT was preceded at 8:00 p.m. by a half hour salute to the new Ottawa station from CBFT. CBOFT’s opening broadcast was also seen on CBFT.


CBFT channel 2 was authorized to increase effective radiated power from 15,700 watts video and 8,300 watts audio to 100,000 watts video and 50,000 watts audio.


According to Elliott-Haynes CBFT reached a total of 1,123,173 adult viewers every day.


Ad: There’s no escape from this salesman. If they want to see TV in French (and they do – 3 million a night) they tune in CBFT and the French TV Network – the network that gives you 90% coverage of French Canada. And you reach them in the midst of living entertainment for French-Canadian living rooms – live drama, live comedy, live panels and sports – plus the best in filmed shows. It’s hours – the captive audience accounting for 22% of Canada’s retail sales. 

As of July 26, CBC Montreal had a total of 2,374 employees. TV producers numbered 94, radio, 40. French network operations made Montreal the largest producing centre of live TV in the world. More than 50 hours of live TV was produced each week at the Radio-Canada Building. CBC Montreal made use of eight TV studios, including studio 42, one of the largest in the world. There were 21 radio studios. 1962


CBFT-1 Mont Tremblant signed on the air on February 15. It was followed on March 15 by CBFT-2 at Mont Laurier.


CBFT’s effective radiated power was unchanged from 1957. CBFT-1 Mont Tremblant (channel 11) had an ERP of 6,000 watts video and 3,000 watts audio. CBFT-2 Mont Laurier (channel 3) had an ERP of 5,540 watts video and 2,800 watts audio.

CBFT also operated these transmitters: CBFST Sturgeon Falls, ON (channel 7) with ERP of 9,750 watts video and 5,270 watts audio, CBFST-1 Sudbury, ON (channel 13) with ERP of 601 watts video and 361 watts audio, and CBFST-2 Temiscaming, QC (channel 12) with ERP of 7,080 watts video and 3,540 watts audio.


On March 21, CBFT was authorized to add a transmitter at Chibougamau, operating on channel 5 with an effective radiated power of 530 watts video and 110 watts audio (directional). Antenna height (EHAAT) would be 482 feet.  

CBC Montreal was producing 50 hours of live programming a week for the French and English networks.

Montreal was said to be the largest television production centre in the world.

The CBC had 22 different owned and rented buildings throughout the city of Montreal. All of these facilities would come under one roof when Place de Radio-Canada was completed and in use by 1972. The building would be a 23 floor office tower, covering an area of 900 by 510 feet on a 25 acre plot of land in east-central downtown. Television facilities would include: six 3-camera production studios, one 4-camera colour production studio with audience capacity of 670, four presentation studios, one film studio, two sound dubbing studios, 15 rehearsal halls, telecine room, VTR room and other operations.

Slogan: The key station of the French TV network. 


When CBFT had its licence renewed, the following rebraodcast transmitters were also renewed (this list may not represent all of CBFT’s transmitters as some licences may have been renewed on other dates): Quebec – CBFT-1 Mont-Tremblant, CBFT-2 Mont-Laurier, CBFAT Chibougamau, CBFAT-1 Chapais; Ontario – CBFST Sturgeon Falls, CBFST-1 Sudbury, CBFST-2 Temiscaming, CBFST-4 Espanola, CBFOT Timmins, CBFOT-1 Kapuskasing, and CBFOT-2 Hearst.


Work was completed on the replacement of the CBFT and CBMT transmitters and antennas at Mount Royal.


On April 21, CBFI-TV Inoucdjouac (Inukjuak), CBFK-TV Poste-de-la- Baleine (Kuudjuarapik), CBFP-TV Povungnituk (Puvirnituk), CBFQ-TV Fort-Chimo (Kuudjuaq), CBFS-TV Salluit (Saglouc), CBFV-TV Waswanipi, CBFHT Fort Rupert (Waskaganish), CBFMT Poste-de- Mistassini, and CBFWT Nouveau-Comptoir (Wemindji) were authorized to change program source from the CBC Northern Television Service, received via satellite, to that of CBFT Montreal, received via satellite.


On August 29, CBFT-3 Saint-Michel-des-Saints was authorized to decrease effective radiated power from 220 watts to 165 watts. The reduction was requested because of the installation of a new more efficient antenna.


On January 23, approval was granted for the change of program source for CBST-2 Schefferville and CBST-4 Churchill Falls from CBST Sept-Iles to CBFT Montréal, received via satellite.


Veteran Radio-Canada reporter Louise Arcand died at the age of 48. She started her career in Ottawa and became the first woman to anchor the news on French TV in Canada – at CBFT. In 1984 she was replaced, so sued the CBC for discrimination. Arcand received a nominal settlement and continued to work with CBC-TV, later moving to radio.


On November 23, CBFT received approval to delete the transmitter CBFT-10 at Sainte-Adèle.


On November 6, CBIMT Îles-de-la-Madeleine was granted an increase in effective radiated power from 2,800 watts to 3,900 watts.


On August 28, CBVT-2 La Tuque was permitted to change its program source from CBVT Quebec to CBFT Montreal.

On October 1, CBFGT Chisasibi was authorized to increase effective radiated power from 4.8 watts to 8.5 watts.


On August 28, CBFGT Chisasibi was granted an increase in effective radiated power of 8.5 watts to a transmitter power of 10 watts.


On May 1, CBFAT Chibougamau was authorized to decrease effective radiated power from 665 watts to 575 watts.


On November 25, CBFT was given approval to add a transmitter at Whitehorse, Yukon. It would operate on channel 7 with an effective radiated power of 474 watts.


As of 2000, CBFT operated the following transmitters in Quebec: CBFAT Chibougamau, CBFAT-1 Chapais, CBFGT Chisasibi (Fort George), CBFHT Waskaganish, CBFP-TV Povungnituq, CBFRT Radisson, CBFS-TV Salluit, CBFT-1 Mont-Tremblant, CBFT-2 Mont-Laurier, CBFT-3 Saint-Michel-des-Saints, CBFT-4 Parent, CBFT-5 Manouane, CBFT-6 Obedjiwan, CBFT-7 Weymont, CBFT-8 Schefferville, CBFT-9 Mont-Saint-Michel, CBFT-13 Fermont, CBFT-14 La Tuque, CBFV-TV Waswanipi, CBFWT Wemindji, CBIMT Iles-de-la-Madeleine, CBIMT-1 Ile-du-Havre-Aubert, CBFI-TV Inukjuak, CBFQ-TV Kuujjuaq, CBFK-TV Kuujjuarapik, CBFMT Mistassini, and Newfoundland: CBFJ-TV St. John’s, CBFNT Port-au-Port, CBFT-11 Churchill Falls, And CBFT-12 Labrador City/Wabush.

On November 16, CBFNT Port-au-Port from received permission to increase effective radiated poewer from 14,000 watts to 15,000 watts. The increase was necessary following the relocation of CBFNT’s transmitter to the new tower.


On November 12, CBFT received a transitional digital television licence for operation from Mont-Royal, on channel 19VL with an effective radiated power of 250,000 watts.


CBFT-DT began broadcasting on March 22.


CBFT had the following rebroadcast transmitters – Quebec: CBFT-DT Montreal, CBFAT Chibougamau, CBFAT-1 Chapais, CBFGT Chisasibi (Fort-George), CBFHT Waskaganish, CBFI-TV Inukjuak, CBFP-TV Povungnituk, CBFQ-TV Kuujjuaq (Fort Chimo), CBFRT Radisson, CBFS-TV Salluit, CBFT-1 Mont-Tremblant, CBFK-TV Mistassini (Kuujjuarapik), CBFMT Poste-de-Mistassini, CBFT-13 Fermont, CBFT-14 La Tuque, CBFT-2 Mont-Laurier, CBFT-3 Saint-Michel-des-Saints, CBFT-4 Parent, CBFT-5 Manouane, CBFT-6 Obedjiwan, CBFT-7 Weymont, CBFT-8 Schefferville, CBFT-9 Mont-Saint-Michel, CBFV-TV Waswanipi, CBFWT Wemindji, CBIMT Iles-de-la-Madeleine and CBIMT-1 Ile-du-Havre-Aubert. Newfoundland & Labrador: CBFJ-TV St. John’s, CBFNT Port au Port, CBFT-11 Churchill Falls and CBFT-12 Labrador City. Yukon Territory: CBFT-15 Whitehorse.


On July 28, the CRTC approved the applications by the CBC to amend the licences for CBAFT Moncton by adding the transmitters CBFNT Port-au-Port and CBFJ-TV St. John’s and for CBFT Montréal by removing the transmitters CBFNT and CBFJ-TV. CBFNT and CBFJ-TV will rebroadcast the programming of CBAFT instead of that of CBFT in order to adequately serve the population of Port-au-Port and St. John’s.


On March 29, the CRTC administratively renewed the licence for CBFT-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.

The CRTC approved the amendment to the licence of CBFT-TV to add a post-transition digital television transmitter, operating on channel 19 with an effective radiated power of 447,820 watts (non-directional). The existing CBC Mount Royal tower would be used with effective antenna height of 297.8 metres. Programming would be received by STL microwave.

The deadline for the conversion of analog television to digital in mandatory markets was August 31. On that date, analog CBFT-TV channel 2 left the air and was replaced by the already operating CBFT-DT on channel 19 (virtual channel 2.1). CBFT-DT was expected to broadcast at reduced power until December 31.


On July 17, the CRTC 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 CBFT-DT licence: CBFAT-1 Chapais, CBFAT Chibougamau, CBFGT Chisasibi (Fort-George), CBFT-11 Churchill Falls (NL), CBFT-13 Fermont, CBIMT-1 Ile-du-Havre-Aubert, CBIMT Iles-de-la-Madeleine, CBFI-TV Inukjuak, CBFQ-TV Kuujjuaq (Fort Chimo), CBFT-14 La Tuque, CBFT-12 Labrador City (NL), CBFT-5 Manouane, CBFK-TV Mistassini (Kuujjuarapik), CBFT-2 Mont-Laurier, CBFT-9 Mont-Saint-Michel, CBFT-1 Mont-Tremblant, CBFT-6 Obedjiwan, CBFT-4 Parent, CBFMT Poste-de-Mistassini, CBFP-TV Povungnituk, CBFRT Radisson, CBFT-3 Saint-Michel-des-Saints, CBFS-TV Salluit, CBFT-8 Schefferville, CBFHT Waskaganish, CBFV-TV Waswanipi, CBFWT Wemindji, CBFT-7 Weymont, and CBFT-15 Whitehorse (YT).


In the fall, the CBC announced it had selected the Broccolini group to build the new Maison de Radio-Canada in Montreal and Groupe Mach to purchase the western part of the large property (René-Lévesque Blvd. & Papineau Ave.) occupied by the broadcaster’s facilities. The transactions still required Treasury Board approval.


On October 1, ground was broken at the site of the new Maison de Radio-Canada in Montréal. Federal Heritage Minister Mélanie Joly, Montreal Mayor Denis Coderre and CBC president Hubert T. Lacroix were among those on hand for the ceremony. Expected to be finished by January of 2020, the new building would feature a four-storey atrium and rooftop patio.


Lise Payette (87) passed away on September 5. Payette started her broadcasting career at CKTR Trois-Rivières in 1954. She later hosted “La Femme dans le monde” on CKRN-TV. Payette also worked on TV program “Interdit aux hommes” for Radio-Canada and on a series of animated television programs for the CBC French and English networks. In 1976, she was elected Parti Quebecois MLA for the riding of Dorion. Payette left politics in 1981 and returned to television, founding production company Focus, and writing and producing several documentary and fiction series.

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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