1927: The Assault of New Technology

William Marcotte et sa famille What does the arrival of radio mean for the residents of the prairies? It's a blessing for them, breaking down their isolation. From now on they will be kept informed daily of the events which affect not only their community but the world outside. But this opening to others is not welcomed by the leaders of the Francophone communities in the three prairie provinces. They believe their language is threatened by the intrusion of English into French-speaking homes. They are also afraid of this Anglo-Protestant voice which, in their opinion, propagates a materialistic view of existence, in opposition to French Catholic values. At all costs French must be heard on radio so as to reduce this negative influence. In this period a few individuals will put out feelers for French radio.

In 1927, the owner of the Patriote de l'Ouest (The Western Patriot), Joseph-Eldege Morrier, looks into the possibility of setting up a bilingual, Catholic radio station. On April 20, 1927, he writes to the Department of Marine and Fisheries to find out the cost of an initiative of this kind and the chances of success. The department sends him a form to complete in order to be “registered among those who have indicated a wish to obtain such a licence”. He is asked to provide more information on his project. Morrier wants a bilingual station “to assert the equal rights of French and English in Canada” and a Catholic one “to put forward the point of view of Catholic truth on all issues”. No-one will take over from Morrier when he leaves Saskatchewan a year later and the project is dropped.

In 1929, a young Franco-Manitoban Métis hosts a series of on-air “concerts” in French on CJRW in Winnipeg. Just like the Francophone leaders, he wishes to promote culture among prairie French-Canadians through the medium of radio. In February 1930, the concerts end. The reason given by the station is that the audience is too small. Maurice Goulet “suspects a yellow influence underneath [sic]”.

On January 24, 1932, this farmer from Coderre obtains an hour of French music on station CJRM in Moose Jaw. On the program are recordings of Victor, Paul Dufault, Enrico Caruso and some comedy dialogues of Old Ladebouche. But it's the time of the Depression and money is scarce. Once the country realizes the importance of establishing public radio, the Francophone associations will make their appeal for French broadcasting.