Canada Post issues stamps celebrating history of radio in Canada

Canada Post is issuing new stamps May 20 marking the 100th anniversary of radio in Canada.

Canada Post is issuing new stamps Wednesday marking the 100th anniversary of radio in Canada.

The stamp issue coincides with the anniversary of the Marconi Wireless Telegraph Company of Canada’s test of station XWA or “Experimental Wireless Apparatus” on May 20, 1920. The test marked the first Canadian radio broadcast to a Royal Society of Canada gathering at Ottawa’s Château Laurier. The closed broadcast included a live performance by soprano Dorothy Lutton, delivered from the Marconi factory studios in Montréal. As reported in the Ottawa Journal by one of the journalists invited to listen in, when “the latest one-step” was played, the clarity was so impressive that several of the newspaper writers began to dance.

Later that year, XWA (which had received the first Canadian experimental radio licence in 1919) changed its call letters to CFCF – for Canada’s First, Canada’s Finest. In 1922, the station made the leap to commercial broadcasting, and Montréal’s CKAC became the first licensed radio station in North America to offer French-language programming. Thirty-four Canadian radio stations were in operation at the time. By the end of the decade, the number of radio sets across the country would increase from fewer than 10,000 to nearly 300,000.

Canada Post says to create the stamp, for which there was little original imagery available, it assembled experts from academia, communications museums and vintage radio clubs to ensure visual accuracy. Toronto’s Soapbox Design created the stamp series which was illustrated by Oliver Burston.

The design includes a nod to the 10 decades of radio from 1920 to 2020 around the outside edges. Also featured are retro headphones, a vintage microphone with the XWA call letters, a horn-shaped speaker and radio box, antique bulbs, and circular sound waves. Find stamp specifications, here.

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