Uncle Chichimus Launches CBC Toronto

September 08, 1952

250 Front St. W.

this story

On September 8, 1952, CBC Toronto beamed its first TV program from its station on Jarvis Street. The show featured John Conway and his beloved puppets Uncle Chichimus and Hollyhock. The sonorous voice of Lorne Greene introduced the story of the manhunt for the Boyd Gang, who had escaped that day from the Don Jail. Everything of course was live and not everything went smoothly—the station logo appeared back-to-front and upside down.

Uncle Chichimus, featured in the first program ever aired by CBC television, in September 1952 (courtesy Canadian Museum of Civilization).

CBC was rushing to meet the challenge of American television, which was up to that time the only programming available to the tens of thousands of Canadians who owned televisions and had aerials pointed at the US border.

Until the Canadian Broadcasting Centre opened on Wellington Street in 1993 to bring all of Toronto’s CBC staff into one building, the CBC occupied various sites around the city, including those historic television studios on Jarvis Street. From 1829 to 1893, the site hosted the Parliament Buildings of Upper Canada, the Province of Canada and finally the Province of Ontario. It became the site of a freight shed for the Grand Trunk Railway, later Canadian National Railways. It was the CNR that established a network of radio stations across Canada in the 1920s, a network that became the foundation of the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation.

By Derek Boles

Visit The Canadian Encyclopedia for more on the CBC.

In 1993, the CBC opened the $350 million Canadian Broadcasting Centre to consolidate various facilities scattered throughout Toronto (photo © 2012 by James Marsh). View the image gallery