Saturday, September 02, 2023

Toronto 1922 vs. Toronto 1932

Sometimes at the odd antiquarian book shop I find an odd antiquarian phone book. Sometimes, those old phone books list off radio stations. Below is an image from Might's Greater Toronto city directory of 1927. This is an interesting as it the CBC wasn't formed until 1936 so radio licensing was still a bit of a wild west as it also was in the U.S.  (Please excuse the bad edit on the 1927 image, I lack the skill set to blend the colors.) You will see a list of 8 call letters above, take note, because when we fast forward to 1932 we the list changes quite a bit. More here and here.

CFCA was the first licensed radio station in Toronto, and was owned by the Toronto Daily Star. The station went on the air in June 1922 and closed permanently in 1933. So that period book ends shortly before the CBC began operating in 1935. 

Back in 1922 the Might's Directory had no radio section in the Business pages. The section jumps directly from Radiators to Rag Dealers and before you ask, no there wasn't a Wireless section either. Likewise the 1923 and 1924 hard cover editions have sections for Radio Equipment and Radio Apparatus and Supplies, but no Radio Stations. The first year with a list is 1925, starting with five radio stations:


Band  Call Sign
CNRT Canadian National railway
King Edward Hotel
CKCL Dominion Battery Co. 20 Trinity St.
CHIC Northern Electric Co. 131 Simcoe St.
 Toronto Daily Star Yonge & St. Clair Ave.
CHNCToronto Radio Research
Hillcrest Park

All five of these stations continue to exist for at least a couple years. They change frequency, change studio addresses, increase in power but they continue on with the same owners into 1927 when things start to get interesting.


Band  Call Sign
CFCA  Toronto Daily Star
 18 King St. W.
CHIC  Northern Electric Co.
131 Simcoe St.
CJCI  Royal Order of Moose
 Confederation Life Bldg
CJYC  Universal Radio of Canada
38 Irwin Ave.
CKCL Dominion Battery Co.
20 Trinity St.
 International Bible Students Assoc.
38 Irwin Ave.
Canadian National Carbon Co.   Hillcrest Park
CNRT Canadian National  Railways, King & Toronto

Below is an image from Might's Greater Toronto city directory of 1932.Note that there are only 7 now but of the 7 two refer you to two other stations on the list as the station to use. It took all of 5 seconds to answer why with thanks to the History of Canadian Broadcasting website. [SOURCE] In 1933 the CRBC (Canadian Radio Broadcasting Commission) discontinued it's sharing time agreement on 840 between CHNC, CJBC and CPRY

So the instruction is most likely just directing the reader to the stronger, more local signal. The connection between CNRT and CFCA is harder to understand, but I found once reference here. CNR Radio, Canada's first radio network, leased time on CFCA operating with the call letters CNRT, until the CNR network disbanded in 1932. This would have been simply a share time in the US but in Canada this is sometimes called a "phantom station." While leasing CFCA's transmitter and frequency, CNRT would broadcast from its own studio located in the King Edward Hotel.  

Radio station 910 CKGW-AM  began operations in 1926 on 910 kHz with 5,000 watts of power, they moved to  to Toronto's King Edward Hotel in 1927, and began sharing time with CFRB and CJBC in 1928. 

In 1930, the Canadian pacific Railway (CPR) applied for licenses to operate radio stations in 11 cities for the express purpose of building a coast-to-coast radio network in order to compete with the CNR Radio service. But the great depression stopped them in their tracks and all that came of it was CPRY, a phantom station sharing time on on CFRB and CKGW.

This Toronto radio listeners guide [SOURCE] shows CHIC operating out of CKNC, but the Might's phone directory cites different addresses which is difficult to reconcile.

CJCI remains mysterious. The Department of Commerce Service Bulletin from October 30th 1926 confirms the call sign but credits it to the Loyal, not Royal Order of Moose operating on 291.1 meters or about 1030 kHz. The correct answer is Loyal, so it's the Toronto phone book that was in error. The Confederation Life Building in which it was located opened in 1883, and the Loyal order of Moose was founded 5 years later in 1888. The Philadelphia Evening Bulletin published a yearbook in 1927 that records the station operating at 100 watts.  There are no records of it existing past 1928.


Band  Call Sign
CFCA  Toronto Daily Star
Yonge & St. Clair Av West
CFRB  Canadian Radio Corp.
37 Bloor St. W.
CKCLDominion Battery Co.
104 University Ave.
 CKGWGooderham & Worts
 4-5 and 15 King Edward Hotel
 Canadian National Carbon Co.  805 Davenport Rd.
CNRTCanadian National Railways, 1 Toronto
Royal York Hotel
100 Front Street

The CRBC began leasing Canadian National Carbon Company's CKNC in September of 1933. CKGW moved to 840 kHz, still at 5,000 watts power, but now sharing time with just CNRT. But by 1934 they were on the wrong side of that share, only broadcasting at night. The Canadian Pacific Railway's phantom station CPRY, also broadcast from the crowded timeshare facilities of CKGW

It's probably worth mentioning that Gooderham & Worts, the owners of CKGW were distillers. the CBRC would lease the station starting in 1933, and rename it CRCT shutting it down for a time but restarting it in 1936 as CRCY. Gooderham & Worts would merge with Hiram Walner & Sons in 1926. Their buildings remain the heart of the Toronto Distillery District.

CJYC is already gone by 1930, though Wes McKnight later of CKGW, and CFRM started his career there in 1928. But despite the ownership listed in Might's, this station was founded by the IBSA (International Bible Student Association). You'd know them better by the name Jehovah's Witnesses, but that didn't' start until 1931. I'll wrote more about this another time but they sold airtime to the KKK, and attacked other religious denominations. Their license, was not renewed in 1928. Likewise IBSA phantom station CKCX using it's facilities was also no more. More here.


Band  Call Sign
CFRB Canadian Radio Corp.
37 Bloor St. W.
CKCL Dominion Battery Co.  444 University Ave.
Canadian National Carbon Co.
805 Davenport Rd.
CRCT Canadian Radio Broadcasting Co
805 Davenport Rd.

A lot happened in 1935 and the list shrinks down to just 4 radio stations. You can see the directory here. [LINKCKNC signed off permanently in October of 1935.  Hector Charlesworth, chairman of the CRBC considered the 100 watt station "useless." But the station remains on this short list at the time it was mostly carrying programming  originally carried by the CRCT

The CRBC purchased the Canadian National Railway's radio stations, including Toronto's CNRT and CNRX in March of 1933. It eventually became the CBC station CBY.

But in November of 1936 the CBC was formed. In December of that year the CBC restarted the old CKNC to boost the signal of their Toronto station, CRCT. The call letters for the reborn station were CRCY. The station signed on the air this date at 5:30 p.m. CRCY operated on 1420 kHz with 100 watts of power

While the CPR did manage to build a small network starting with the phantom station CPRY, the purchased their old competitor from 1935 the CNR. That eliminated the need for their fledgling service and CPRY was discontinued in 1935.

1 comment: