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Second World War

The landscape oriented black and white advertisement displays two radio models on either side of a large V-shaped white text block on a grey background.

“Northern Electric Radios,” Radio Trade-Builder (March 1942): pp 30-31. La Société Québécoise des Collectionneurs de Radios Anciens (SQCRA).


Radio made war immediate. The declaration of war was heard around the world as each country entered the conflict.

The radio is housed in a wooden cabinet with a dial display in 45-degree angle at the top edge.

RCA A23 (1940-41), Montreal, Quebec, 25 x 37 x 19cm. Musée des ondes Emile Berliner.


The Second World War solidified Canada’s reputation for news and documentaries. For French Canada, Journalist Marcel Ouiment reported directly from the war-torn city of London, setting new standards in broadcasting. These clips remind us of how important radio was during this time of crisis and conflict.

Advertisement in French for five RCA Victor radios of different sizes. Besides text blocks we see a woman standing in a long pink silk gown positioned in the bottom left corner of the page.

“Symbole de la suprématie de l’air” (Symbol of air supremacy), RCA Victor Co. Limited (1941). Brochure. Musée des ondes Emile Berliner.

U.S. American radio news fought a legal battle with the newspaper industry for control over the news. Until 1936, their news was limited to commentary. Canada had no such limitations. In fact, Canadian radio stations have featured news bulletins since 1922. They were also very important to the Canadian wheat farmers on the Prairies, who listened attentively to the market reports of wheat prices.

News bulletins were a regular feature of commercial radio and the practice continued with the CBC/SRC. A Canadian listener from a farm outside of Regina, Saskatchewan explained that the radio was a lifeline in the winter, when there wasn’t as much to do. During the war when she was away at teacher’s college in Regina, she and the other students listened every night for news of the war. The connection that radio offered listeners to the troops overseas cemented radio’s place in Canadian homes.

Cropped image of a blue and white printed advertisement showing a radio in a slight diagonal view. The radio has a handle on top, a speaker on the left inlayed with a V-shaped decoration, and dials on the right.

“Publicity Digest: Radio for Victory Comes First,” Northern Electric Company Limited (March 1942). La Société Québécoise des Collectionneurs de Radios Anciens (SQCRA).


Radio gave hourly reports. Families did not have to wait for newspapers or letters to get news from the front.

RCA Victor created a map of Europe showing the position of allied ships and planes. The map depicts countries in warm colours like yellow, red and brown. The location names are written in English but the information on the label is French.

Geographic Map of Europe, RCA Victor (April 12, 1940), Montréal, Québec. 60cm x 74cm. Musée des ondes Emile Berliner.

This table top radio has a grey painted exterior with curved edges and no further decoration. At the bottom is a lockable drawer.

Military Radio, RCA Victor: Model SREType 457 (1942). 36x 54x 31cm. Musée des ondes Emile Berliner.


During the war, Canadian manufacturers produced radio equipment for military use. The navy aboard ships could use this RCA Victor SRE Type 457. Meanwhile, the British developed Signal Corps radio wireless equipment for desert warfare. In 1942, Northern Electric Co., Canadian Marconi Co., and RCA Victor in Canada manufactured the No. 19 Mk II (below).

This radio transceiver is a low rectangular model made of metal with many knobs and dials. The labeling is in English and Russian.

Military Radio, Signal Corps: Model ZA 10178 (1944). 30 x 61 x 23.5cm. Musée des ondes Emile Berliner.


Canadians were proud of their ability to continue to manufacture radios for communication at home and the military. The patriotism came with mixed reactions as the government put radio regulations into place to remove languages from combatant enemy countries from the air. For instance, radio stations removed long-standing German programs from the airwaves in Manitoba. Finnish religious services were also taken off the air.

This page shows four images: at the top a black and white paper clipping shows a production line for radios. Two colour photographs on the left-hand side show the exterior of a M-45; on the right-hand side another colour photograph shows the cabinet’s inside.

Radiophilie Québec 11, no. 5 (Sept-Oct 2005): pp 9. La Société Québécoise des Collectionneurs de Radios Anciens (SQCRA).

Yellow waves carry the title, while red waves adorn the top and bottom of the page. The wooden cabinet radio with curved edges occupies the centre of the page.

Stromberg-Carlson model 553H, as seen in Radiophilie Québec 11, no.5 (Sept-Oct 2005): pp 20. La Société Québécoise des Collectionneurs de Radios Anciens (SQCRA).


As the war drew to a close, Canadian radio manufacturing and broadcasting stayed intact as industries. At the same time, radio took on a more prominent role in Canadian homes and hearts.