in 2009 the RCI transmitter station outside Sackville, New Brunswick was still quite active broadcasting to the world. Designed by CBC's chief architect D. G. McKinstry, the building opened in 1944 and was scheduled to be closed in 2012. A portion of the large RCI shortwave antenna system is visible in the background.
Photo Credit: Verne Equinox- wiki

The Birth of the “Voice of Canada”

Radio Canada International signed into existence

For several years in the late 1930’s high-level discussions were held by Canada’a official broadcaster and government officials suggesting that Canada should join several other nations and create an international shortwave service.

March 20-2014.One of the last of the huge 135 metre transmission towers , cables cut, falling to the ground. Several former employees made redundant, came to watch the scene, saying it was heartbreaking. © CBC

This would be to give Canada a voice on the world stage, broadcasting Canadian viewpoints, culture, technological advances,  and news as was the case for the many other shortwave services already broadcasting.

With the advent of war, the discussion changed somewhat and the need for a Canadian voice and shortwave service was seen to be greater.  The idea was now that a shortwave service would keep the hundreds of thousands of Canadian service personnel fighting overseas, readily informed of news from Canada, and of news of the war being fought in other theatres.

 September 18, 1942

The decision to finally proceed was signed as a parliamentary Order-in-Council on September 18, 1942.

As necessary equipment was at a premium during the war, it wasn’t until very late in December 1944 that test broadcasts were made.  By January of 1945, the shortwave service began its regular broadcasts in Canada’s official languages of English and French, along with “psychological” broadcasts in German.

March 20-2014 Pieces of the once huge towers of the “Voice of Canada” lie crumpled and broken on the ground, silenced. © CBC

Postwar and in the decades that followed the need changed back to the original proposed mandate providing programming  of news of Canada, its culture, technology, politics, and a newsroom preparing newscasts of Canadian and world news of interest targetted for specific broadcast regions.

The “Voice of Canada” as it was originally known, grew with many other languages added and broadcast coverage extended to eventually reach almost all parts of the globe. In 1970, the CBC International service as it had been officially known, became “Radio Canada International”

In 2012, following a major budget cut, the huge transmitter site was closed and RCI, with greatly reduced staff, became an internet service only maintaining five of its languages, English, French, Mandarin, Arabic, and Spanish.

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