This week kind of sort of marks the 65th birthday of Canadian television. There were experimental broadcasts years before then and if you lived in the right place and had a big enough antenna you could pull in some American stations, but until September 6th, 1952, Canada had no actual broadcast television of its own.
It was on that day that CBFT, more commonly known as CBC Montreal, signed on. It was followed two days later by CBC Toronto A.K.A. CBLT. The rest, as the saying goes, is history.
On September 6, 1952, CBC TV debuted in Montreal on CBFT. At 4 p.m., viewers tuned in and watched the movie Aladdin and his Lamp, followed by a cartoon, and then a French film, a news review and a bilingual variety show.
Two days later, CBC TV debuted in Toronto. Seconds before the cameras went live, a technician removed and cleaned the CBC logo slide. Producer Murray Chercover shouted at the technician, “Don’t do that!” and the rattled crew member placed the slide back in upside down as the network took to the airwaves. “I can’t remember what we did, or if we shot the poor guy responsible,” Norman Jewison, then a 25-year-old floor director, later recalled.
Say what you want about the CBC, but you’ll never convince me that Canada would be better off without it than it has been with it. You simply won’t find a more reliable, consistent source for news, sports, music and comedy in this country.