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Mount Pearl

Most of the Marconi stations in Newfoundland and Labrador were built for sealing and shipping communications. The Mount Pearl station was built for war. The British Admiralty built and operated eleven identical stations around the world. In 1915, they built one outside St. John’s, in what is now the City of Mount Pearl. This base sought to intercept enemy messages and send classified information.

An aerial view of three buildings and an antenna encircled by fencing, with additional outbuildings beyond. Snow covers the ground.

HM Wireless Station, Mount Pearl, NL

The HM Wireless Station, as it was then known, played a major role during the SS Florizel disaster. On February 23, 1918, the Florizel was caught in a winter storm and ran aground off the small fishing community of Cappahayden, south of St. John’s. When the ship struck the rocks, its distress signal was received at the Mount Pearl station, which passed it along and helped coordinate the rescue effort. Of the 137 people on board, only 44 survived. The last survivor was stranded on the vessel for 27 hours as the waves and the pounding slowly tore the ship to pieces.

Sections of round metal tubing, some standing connected to a base, some lying on the ground, with fir trees in the background.

Sections of a Marconi Wireless Tower during disassembly, Mount Pearl, NL

The Mount Pearl station remained in operation until 1922, when it was deemed no longer necessary. The buildings and property were sold to the Parsons, a local farming family, in 1926. The property did not lose all of its wireless connections however—its three radio towers were left standing. One was torn down in 1938 and the other two were sold to the Broadcasting Corporation of Newfoundland in 1939 and used for public broadcasting. They were eventually torn down in 1954 and 1955.