Local History Advent Calendar 2018 – Day 16 – CBUT is on the air

When I am researching one topic I often come across random historical tidbits that I think might be interesting to research one day.  These tidbits sometimes end up as full-fledged stories and sometimes they just stay as random historical tidbits.  I have collected quite a few, so I thought it might be fun to present them in the form of “treats” for a local history advent calendar. Think of them as holiday cocktail party fodder – 24 facts about Vancouver history that can be used as conversation starters at your next social event.

Day 16: 65 years ago today, CBC-TV in Vancouver first started broadcasting…

CBUT, Channel 2, Vancouver, officially began programming at 6.00 p.m., Wednesday, December 16th,1953 when a button pressed by A. Davidson Dunton, chairman of the CBC Board of Governors, set the inaugural transmission into motion. Prior to CBUT, the only television stations available to lower mainland residents originated from Washington State – KING Channel 5 in Seattle and KVOS Channel 12 in Bellingham. Another Seattle based TV station, KOMO Channel 4 began operation 6 days prior to CBUT on December 10, 1953.

Newspaper print ad for the CBUT opening.

This Vancouver station was the fourth CBC-TV station in Canada and the first in Western Canada. The plan for CBUT included studio and production facilities downtown (in a converted Packard dealership), a few blocks from the existing radio (CBU) studios in the Hotel Vancouver and a transmitter on Mount Seymour.

Several special programs marked the initial transmission of the station on Wednesday, December 16th, at 6.00 p.m. They consisted pre-taped (filmed) special greetings to the new station and entertainment programs that featured many “Vancouverites”.

Rear slide projection graphic image for CBUT.

In 2013, wrote a series of vanalogue posts commemorating the 60th Anniversary of CBUT television (CBC-TV) in Vancouver and British Columbia. I invite you to check them out if you want to learn more about local early television. You can look at them here: Part 1 – CBUT on the Air, Part 2 – All that Jazz, Part 3 – 1954 Commonweath Games, & Part 4 – Drama from the Left Coast

The following video shows excerpts of the opening comments from the first broadcast for CBUT (CBC-TV Vancouver) on December, 16th 1953. Also, excerpts from the 1960 CBUT program “Image of CBUT” showing some of the behind the scenes of early TV production. “Image of CBUT” was produced to promote CBUT to potential advertising clients.

60th Anniversary of CBUT- Part 3 – CBUT and the 1954 British Empire & Commonwealth Games

This Wednesday, July 30th, marks the 60th Anniversary of the opening of the 1954 British Empire and Commonwealth Games (BE&CG) held in Vancouver –  at the time “the most spectacular event of its kind in Canada’s history and the greatest Empire and Commonwealth sports meet ever staged”. It also marks the 60th anniversary of CBUT’s (and the CBC network’s) first national (and international) live television broadcast.

The CBC purchased exclusive world rights for complete coverage of the 1954 British Empire & Commonwealth Games in Vancouver (July 30 to August 7) for $50,000. Jack McCabe, a CBC sports producer, was appointed by the CBC to co-ordinate radio, television and film coverage of the event. In the early days of television, before communications satellites, it was one of the most ambitious enterprises ever undertaken by Canadian radio and television.

The Commonwealth looks to Vancouver. Graphic promoting CBC's TV and Radio broadcast of the 5th BE&C Games from Vancouver.
The Commonwealth looks to Vancouver. Graphic promoting CBC’s TV and Radio broadcast of the 5th BE&C Games from Vancouver.

The 1954 BE&C Games marked the first time Eastern and Western Canada were linked for a simultaneous live telecast.  This unique feat was made possible by a circuitous route totaling some 2,750 miles (4,425 km) across the United States from Seattle to Buffalo (via Portland, Sacramento, Salt Lake City, Denver, Omaha, Des Moines, and Chicago), thus linking CBUT, Vancouver, with CBLT, Toronto, and the microwave-connected television stations of Eastern Canada. In connecting the Vancouver production centre with the eastern network stations, CBC television coverage of the Games was made available to Canadians the same day. Continue reading “60th Anniversary of CBUT- Part 3 – CBUT and the 1954 British Empire & Commonwealth Games”

60th anniversary of CBUT – part one

This is the first in a series of posts commemorating 60 years of CBUT television (CBC-TV) in Vancouver and British Columbia.

Our current media culture is defined by television. Television has been, and still is, a part of our everyday lives – even in these digital days of live streaming and Netflix. But, how did this appliance of mass media, television, all begin?  Locally,  it all started with a 5,000 watt television station in Vancouver, British Columbia.

CBUT, channel 2 station ID. Prospect Point, Stanley Park, 1961. Photo: Alvin Armstrong, CBC Vancouver Still Photo Collection.
CBUT, channel 2 station ID. Prospect Point, Stanley Park, 1961. Photo: Alvin Armstrong, CBC Vancouver Still Photo Collection.

CBUT, Channel 2, Vancouver, officially began programming at 6.00 p.m., Wednesday, December 16th,1953 when a button pressed by A. Davidson Dunton, chairman of the CBC Board of Governors, set the inaugural transmission into motion. Prior to CBUT, the only television stations available to lower mainland residents originated from Washington State – KING Channel 5 in Seattle and KVOS Channel 12 in Bellingham. Another Seattle based TV station, KOMO Channel 4 began operation 6 days prior to CBUT on December 10, 1953.

"a button is pressed and western Canada's first television station is on the air!"
“A button is pressed and western Canada’s first television station is on the air!” Photo from CBC Times shows the exact moment that CBUT started 60 years of broadcasting.

Continue reading “60th anniversary of CBUT – part one”