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Honouring early commercial radio broadcasting in Canada

eAwaz Lifestyle

Commercial radio helped usher in the modern era of mass communication.

Montreal – Commercial radio in Canada began with Montréal station XWA. From its first broadcasts until the creation of a public system in 1932, a radio craze swept the country, establishing a new mass communication industry that would dramatically alter the way in which Canadians consumed news and entertainment.

Steven Guilbeault, Minister of Environment and Climate Change and Minister responsible for Parks Canada commemorated the national historic significance of early commercial radio broadcasting in Canada.

Commercial radio in Canada got its start with the Marconi Wireless Telegraph Company of Canada in 1918. From its rudimentary Montréal facility, this company experimented with wireless broadcasting and received a licence for station XWA in December 1919. A year later, the station started a regular schedule of transmissions.

From that single station grew an industry that over the course of the next 12 years ushered in the modern era of mass communication. By 1922, there were 39 radio stations in Canada. By 1931, that number had jumped to 173,200. Even in the midst of the Great Depression, the radio industry was growing.

The Canadian Radio Broadcasting Commission, Canada’s first public broadcaster, was established in 1932 and with it the era of exclusively private radio came to an end, but it was a period that would establish the basis of Canadian broadcasting for the 20th century. In a little over a decade, radio had gone from a niche hobby to a major cultural industry.

The Government of Canada, through the Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada, recognizes significant people, places, and events that shaped our country as one way of helping Canadians and youth connect with their past. The National Program of Historical Commemoration is largely driven by public nominations.

We invite Canadians to learn more about our history – from lighthouses to battlefields, historic neighbourhoods to Indigenous contributions to Canada, there is an amazing array of places and stories to discover.