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"Mister Broadcasting"

This story was initially published in 2004

On July 13, 1934, Canadian broadcaster Peter Gzowski was born in Toronto, Ontario. Known as “Mister Canada” to some and “Mister Broadcasting” to others, he was one of the greatest broadcasters that ever worked for the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC). He interviewed thousands of people, and touched the lives and hearts of citizens across Canada for many years.

Peter Gzowski
Photo courtesy of www.ObituariesToday.com
Broadcasting in the modern sense began in Canada in the 1920s. By 1929, there were more than 75 licensed Canadian commercial stations, both French and English, mainly in the larger cities. A controlling agency, the Canadian Radio Broadcasting Commission (CRBC), was established in Ottawa by passing of the Canadian Radio Broadcasting Act of May 26, 1932. Due to problems regarding funding, programming and management, an inquiry was set up into the CRBC. After the recommendations of the inquiry were implemented, a new Broadcasting Act took effect on November 2, 1936 creating the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation/Société Radio-Canada (CBC/SRC).

The newly formed CBC set out to provide Canadian and foreign programs across Canada. The CBC, which originally started out in radio broadcasting, presented original plays and classics, religious periods, Canadian Press news bulletins, NHL hockey games, children’s programs and Northern Messenger broadcasts. Initially only available to Central Canada, over thirty years the CBC expanded across Canada and developed international links as well. The CBC was now broadcasting in more than 11 different languages, including Ukrainian, Russian, Czech and Slovak. Radio broadcasting in Canada flourished until the introduction of the television in 1952. The development of CBC radio continued, but inevitably television affected the role of radio, and the size and nature of its audience. A CBC FM network opened in 1960 along with international broadcasting services.

Former Canadian Broadcasting Corporation Headquarters Building in Ottawa, Ontario
© Kristen Luce, 2004
Private corporations emerged during the 1960s, challenging the CBC’s monopoly on radio and television broadcasting in Canada. Despite difficulties during the next 10 years, the CBC remained the leading provider of both radio and television broadcasting across Canada. The CBC mandate of being a national broadcasting company of predominately Canadian programs with a balanced service of information, enlightenment and entertainment appealed to people of different age groups and gave CBC a uniquely wide audience.

With broadcasters such as the enigmatic Peter Gzowski, CBC was certain to be a stunning success. The Former CBC Buidling in Ottawa, a striking example of modern architecture, was designated a Federal Heritage Building and stands as a testament to the influence of the CBC and individuals such as Peter Gzowski on Canadian broadcasting.

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