More on Private Radio Receiving Licences

I read the article on that the late Bill Wilson wrote about radio receiver licensing in Canada.  (Remember When We Had Private Receiving Station Licences) I am hoping that you can put me in touch with someone who can tell me more about it?  I have a set of consecutive licenses from 1926 until 1953 that I am trying to research.  All 25 licenses were issued to the same person in B.C.  I believe the 1926 license must be close to the first year this was carried out? Although I have not been able to find much information on this subject, I have gathered some very interesting tidbits but it is not clear when this licensing practice first began in Canada?  Other countries did the same but I would also like to find more about which ones did so.  Any information would be greatly appreciated.

Best regards,

Lorne Bohn

Nanaimo, B.C.

31 December 2017

Hi Lorne: In addition to the article by Bill Wilson, there are other articles on the website about radio receiving licences in Canada. Some of them are:

Notes on the Bill Beaton Collection of Radio Licences By John Gilbert

CBC Requesting an Increase to $5 per year for the Radio and a new Licence Fee of $10 for TV Reception

Special Private Receiving Station Licence

Radio Licence is Gone by G.H. Hierllhy 

I am copying John Gilbert who can tell you more about the subject. I would also love to put on the website copies of your consecutive licenses from 1926 to 1953. If you could send me JPG copies, it would be greatly appreciated.

Best regards

Donald Courcy

21 January 2018

Hello Lorne: I am not an expert in this but I did gather some information when I wrote about the Bill Beaton collection. Further, I am currently writing a long article about the history of Radio College of Canada (RCC). In that connection I have been researching at Library and Archives, Canada and have looked at a couple of the files which will give the story. However, I was looking for information on RCC at the time and did not take notes on the rest of the file. I do recall that around 1930 the question of licensing was being debated and the Radio Act was being revised following an international conference on radio-communications in 1928.  I have to return to LAC soon and will pull the files again. The late Bill Wilson was an authority on this subject.

John Gilbert

21 January 2018

Thanks for the info Donald. Most people arent even aware that licenses were required for just receivers.  It is not clear when the first licenses were issued but the practice ended in 1953. If possible I would like to know if 1926 is the first year that licenses were required.  The licenses I have were issued to the same person in Camrose, Alberta.  Do you want both the front and back copied?  There are 25 of them.  They are in a binder and each is mounted with 4 picture mounting tabs.  The tabs come off when I take the licenses out of the pages but I will see if I can find new mounts if you want both sides.  Otherwise I will photocopy the full pages but only the front. 

Lorne Bohn

22 January 2018

Hi Donald: I sent .jpgs of the consecutive licences I have to you and John. Id appreciate it if one of you could let me know when the first license was issued. 

Lorne Bohn

25 January 2018

Here are the .jpgs of  the Peter Sorensen Radio Licenses.  They are consecutive until 1953 and issued in Camrose, Alberta. 

Lorne Bohn

25 January 2018

Click here to see Peter Sorenson Private Radio Receiving Licenses

(We did not receive the 1926-1927 and the 1927-1928 licences)

Many thanks, Lorne. A nice collection and in great condition. I will be at Library and Archives Canada in a week or so and will see what I can find. I stopped in Camrose a few years ago on a trip I made to Calgary. Regards

John Gilbert

28 January 2018

Lorne: As I mentioned, I have been researching at Library and Archives, Canada. By chance I looked at File RG97 Vol 92 File 1024-4 Vol 8 Nov 1932-Feb 1935 . My interest was in the licensing requirements for radio operators on board ship and this file covers the preparatory work for the 1938 Radio Act. There may be more information in this file or in previous files covering earlier iterations of the Radio and Radiotelegraph Act of Canada. There are many articles on the development of broadcasting in Canada (often mentioned in comparison to that in Britain and the US). I will leave it to you to do the Google searches for those (try Google Scholar). The following seems to answer your question as to how far back the radio receivers were licensed:

Under the Radiotelegraph Act of 1913, a government minister (the minister of Marine and Fisheries until 1936) had the power to license radio broadcasting stations and to charge a $1 license fee on each receiving set.

In RG97 File 1024-4 there is some mention of the radio receiver license fee on the same pages as the info I was seeking. I have attached photos of the pages.

Click here to see the pages

I have not seen the 1913 Act, but it looks as though the wording regarding licenses was carried over into the 1927 Act and then, in RG 97 Vol 92, it looks as though the wording was being carried over into the 1938 Radio Act. I did copy a curious memo concerning an exemption from licensing for crystal sets and this is attached also. I'm sure there is more information in the files, but it might take some searching to find it. Meanwhile, I think the above answers part of your question. Should you use any of the info from the attachments the file reference above should be quoted. Regards

John Gilbert

29 January 2018

Thanks for remembering to take a look for me John.  Much appreciated. In my search to see when the licenses were first issued, I was able to find quite a bit of history about the beginnings of the Radio act itself and why it was enacted but the actual date as to when the first licenses were issued are not clear.  You would think there would be lots of information about that.  If you come across anything that specific I would appreciate hearing about it.  As near as I can tell, my 1927 license must be close to one of the first ones???   It is possible that was when Peter Sorenson bought his first radio too and he kept renewing his license for as long as it was required.  I even e-mailed both government agencies that were involved but have not gotten any reply.

Lorne Bohn

29 January 2018

Lorne: As I mentioned in my email receiving licenses were required as far back as 1913. I read somewhere that it took some time for people to comply with the law. In other things I have been researching (such as the safety of life at sea regulations) the regulation of radio was delayed by WW1. In the case of radio operator licenses it was not until 1928 that the new regs were put in place and that was partly driven by technology (outlawing of spark, requirement for direction finding equipment on board ship, for example).  As you will see in the references, the licensing of receivers was initially to avoid interference from receivers with other radio services. By 1928, with the advent of tubes and universal electric power etc, this was not longer a problem. But then it became an issue of revenue for public broadcasting with the US, Britain and Canada taking different approaches over the years. So I do not think your 1927 license is one of the first but it is certainly a "keeper".

John Gilbert

30 January 2018

Links   -   Liens


Notes on the Bill Beaton Collection of Radio Licences


Remember When We Had Private Receiving Station Licences ?


CBC Requesting an Increase to $5 per year for the Radio Receiving License Fee

And a Separate $10 Annual Fee Proposed for TV Reception


Private Radio Receiving License Issued to Alfred Crevier in 1932


1951 Special Private Receiving Station Licence


1953 The Radio Licence Is Gone


Peter Sorenson's Private Radio Receiving Licences from 1928 to 1953


RG97 File 1024-4