“Unfortunately [this video] was never supposed to be public – it was an accident on my part. The film will be viewable soon though, for seven days. May 26 to June 1. It is being hosted by a gallery in Montreal. That upload was only a test for them, and should never have been public. I was in a hurry, trying to get it uploaded before I packed my hard drives before I moved and I guess I didn’t check all the settings. Sorry about that. I appreciate the enthusiasm though.”
Today is an auspicious day for RCI. It was February 25, 1945 that the CBC International Service began shortwave broadcasting to Europe. It was designed at the time to provide accurate news to occupied areas in
English French and German, and to provide news from home for the huge contingent of Canadian military personnel serving and fighting in the Second World War.
Since then the “IS” has gone through a variety of changes, including the name which was changed to Radio Canada International in 1970. It has been through several moves, from its first location in a former brothel, to the converted Ford Hotel a few years later, to rented office tower space, to the main headquarters of the French service, Radio-Canada.
It has also gone through a number of language-service changes, from 14 languages during the cold war broadcasting to formerly free countries then under the control of Moscow, to its current five languages, Mandarin, Spanish, Arabic, English and French.
Other changes include the drastic cuts of 2012 which saw some 80 per cent of staff cut and the cessation of shortwave to become its current online operation.
Throughout it all RCI continues to inform on Canadian issues including political, scientific, cultural and societal and provide Canadian viewpoints and positions on world affairs.
Former RCI transmitter site – slow transformation
By Marc Montgomery
The former RCI transmitter site near Sackville New Brunswick, sold to a First Nations group, is now in the process of being absorbed into native reserve land and some as yet undetermined use.
During the Second World War as Canada was working towards creating a shortwave service, an ideal site for the transmission of radio signals was found in New Brunswick. Located on the Tantramar marshes, it was ideal ground for propagation of signals from the complex array of antenna wires and towers.
The service was ended over six decades later as a result of severe budget cuts in 2012. The site was later purchased by Mi’kmaq First Nations in 2017 and plans are slowly taking shape to transform the 90 acre site into reserve land. That process involves consultations with neighbouring municipalities, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, the New Brunswick provincial government and other indigenous communities. It’s expected to take two years, during which time the Mi’kmaq will decide the use for the land, whether cultural or economic or a combination.[…]
Some artists work in oils, say, or marble. Amanda Dawn Christie works in radio. Not radio in the sense of performing on air. But radio in the sense of the giant cultural and technological phenomenon that is broadcasting, and specifically shortwave broadcasting.
For decades, shortwave was the only way to reach a global audience in real time. Broadcasters such as the BBC World Service and Voice of America used it to project “soft power.” But as the Internet grew, interest in shortwave diminished.
Christie’s art draws from shortwave’s history, representing it in sculpture, performance, photography, and film. Her focus is the life of the Radio Canada International (RCI) transmitter complex, located in Sackville, New Brunswick, near Christie’s hometown. The transmitter was in operation from the 1940s until 2012. “Those towers were always just a part of the landscape that I grew up around,” says Christie. It took a radio-building workshop to spark her interest: “I built a radio out of a toilet-paper tube…. I thought I did a great job because I picked up Italian radio. It turned out I did not—I was just really close to this international shortwave site.”[…]
Do you miss Ian McFarland on Radio Canada International?
Yeah, me too.
That’s why I’m always pleased to receive off air recordings from Shortwave Radio Audio Archive contributor, Tom Laskowski.
I’ve just posted his latest off-air recording on the archive and thought I’d post it here as well. Tom note:
Here is another one of my many recordings of Shortwave Listener’s Digest from Radio Canada International, this time from January 4, 1982. This program highlights are: Glenn Hauser with his Year in Review for the previous year of 1981; part 1. Larry Magne with a test report for the Panasonic RF-9000 which listed at $US 3800!!!. The program ends with Glenn Hauser’s second part of his review of the previous year’s highlights. Unfortunately the broadcast suffers from some adjacent-channel interference.
Marc is tasked with selling some of the equipment that used to make this site hum. The First Nations group who now own the site are using the revenue from sales to help fund site cleanup and renovation. Mark recently passed along the following note:
We are trying to determine the value of the large quantity of 1940 era engineering blue prints of the station. I hoping your readers will be able to establish their worth.
While rummaging through an old file cabinet in maintenance building (RCI Sackville, New Brunswick), we located about a 100 or so more engineering blue prints (1938-1945), about a dozen black and white photos (RCI reporters interviewing what appears to be world celebrities), and annual engineering reports (1938-1980). Would any of these items be of interest to your readers?
Post readers: If you are interested in any of these items, Marc can be contacted via the following email address: [email protected] He is open to offers and happy to ship these items internationally.
The massive transmitter is being moved from the former RCI site to the former Dorchester jail
Bill Steele is a collector of odd things. A year ago, for example, he bought the site of the last double hanging in New Brunswick.
His latest purchase is less morbid but also a rare find: a massive 1940 shortwave transmitter that once broadcast Canada’s stories around the world.
The transmitter was installed around the end of the Second World War and used until the 1970s. The Radio Canada International site outside Sackville continued to broadcast, but the 50 kW transmitter, five metres long and 2½ metres wide, was decommissioned and used as a showpiece.
The RCI property was bought in February 2017 by Mi’gmawe’l Tplu’taqnn Inc., which had no use for the non-functioning equipment and put it up for sale.
Steele couldn’t help himself.
“I like weird and unusual stuff,” he said. “That’s why I’m putting it in my jail.”
He bought his jail — now a gym and bed and breakfast — last year as a retirement project. Guests bunk in a decommissioned jail cell.
The jail built in the 19th century was where the Bannister brothers of Berry Mills were hanged for murder in 1936, the last double hanging in the province.
Steele’s enthusiasm for historical objects is infectious even when he talks about the paperwork that comes with his latest purchase.
[…]Steele is hoping anyone with stories about the transmitter will share them with him on his Dorchester jail Facebook page, because, as Steele is the first to admit, this isn’t his area of expertise.
“I’ve never touched a shortwave radio, but look it, I’m going to have the biggest one in Canada.”