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Post-War Radio

The radio is contained in a ridged wooden cabinet with dials on the front and the dial display at the top edge.

Tube Radio, RCA Victor: Model M-45A (1946), Montreal, Quebecc 23x 40.5x 19.5cm. Musée des ondes Emile Berliner.


After the Second World War, radio became a staple of Canadian life. Industries reverted from making equipment for war back to consumer goods for Canadians at home, including radio receivers. Radio could could be found in more rooms because of mass-manufactured miniature receiving sets. These radios could have brightly coloured plastic or mellow wooden cases. The different exteriors could match schemes of the redecorated apartments and newly built suburban homes that were springing up around urban centres across the country.

This bright pink plastic tube radio has an eggshell-coloured speaker grill on the left side, and a golden-coloured dial on the right.

AM Tube Radio, Shelbern: Model 55 (1955), Montréal, Québec, 15 x 28 x 12.5cm. Musée des ondes Emile Berliner.


Radios joined record players as part of the home’s entertainment centre. Often concealed in sleek, modern furniture, the radio broadcast popular variety and musical shows at night. However, with the wider availability of television sets in the mid-1950s, the radio became less of a focal point for family entertainment in living rooms. Instead, baby boomers used radios to listen to rock and roll and other music in their bedrooms or on the go. Another reason for tuning into a live radio program was to keep up with sports news, like hockey.

The two illustrations are in multicolour. The top one shows four adults sitting in a living room drinking tea around a radio cabinet. The smaller bottom photograph shows the radio in a simpler cream colour design.

“The Magnificent Magnavox Radio-phonograph.” Musée des ondes Emile Berliner.

Dark wood, Montreal made, RCA radio-turn table console from 1953.

RCA Victor: Model 9W 501 (c.1950), Montreal, Quebec, 78 x 55 x 36cm. Musée des ondes Emile Berliner.








Despite the rise in popularity of television, radio continued to provide Canadians with a sense of civic connection. This was especially the case for emergency preparedness. Canadian Forces worked with the US army to create the Distant Early Warning Line in the Arctic. This line of radar stations was built to warn North Americans of potential nuclear attack from the Soviet Union.

Image of a map of North America in black and white showing the radar defence system.

Map of DEW Line in Northern Canada. Wikimedia Commons.

Black and white photograph of a person with three dogs pulling a sled in the arctic. A radio tower and radar dishes are located in the background.

Dogsled alongside Mid-Canada-Line. Wikimedia Commons.

The contemporary colour photograph shows the room with radio broadcasting equipment in a u-shaped setup.

Radio Studio in the Diefenbunker, Carp, Ontario. Photograph: Peter Coffman.


Listeners needed to be able to access important announcements over the radio. Some radio dials even had triangle markings on emergency broadcasts frequencies. Emergency plans included retreating to fallout shelters with battery-powered radio receivers. The largest one was built in Carp, Ontario, to house the Federal Government in the event of an attack. This fallout shelter included a CBC broadcasting studio. In the scenario of nuclear attack, the Government saw radio as an indispensable link between them and the citizens of Canada.

A small square gold coloured radio with a dial display to the right. The arrow shaped dial hand is bright red.

The All-American: Model Emerson 555V (1959),  10x 15.4x 5cm. Musée des ondes Emile Berliner.