History of Nova Scotia
with special attention given to
Communications and Transportation

Chapter 29
1997 July - September

1997 July

Halifax Airport Traffic Increases

Passenger traffic at Halifax International Airport in July 1997 was up 12% over July 1996, according to airport general manager Janet Shrieves. "Last year, over 2,700,000 passengers travelled through the airport and that number is expected to rise seven per cent this year." Several airlines operated flights into and out of the airport. These included Air Transat, Icelandair, and Canada 3000, all of which offered direct flights to destinations in Germany, the United Kingdom, and Iceland. "Wendy van Puymbroeck, Halifax station manager for Canada 3000, which makes five overseas flights a week on its summer schedule, said the planes are full both ways." Canada 3000 had service to Hamburg, Munich, Amsterdam, London, and Glasgow. Icelandair operated two flights a week to Iceland with connections to several European and UK destinations. "Icelandair has been seeking permission from the Canadian government to increase the number of flights per week."
The Halifax Chronicle-Herald, 27 August 1997

1997 July 7   12:01am

911 Emergency Call System Completed

With the startup of the 911 emergency call system throughout Halifax Regional Municipality at one minute after midnight, Nova Scotia became the first province in Canada to have 911 service everywhere in the province. 911 became operational in Kings County in 1993, and was extended in stages to other areas until complete coverage was achieved this day. The system handles all fire, police, and medical emergency calls through this one universal number, instead of having dozens of different phone numbers for various regional services. The 911 System was designed and implemented by the Nova Scotia Department of the Environment, in consultation with various stakeholders across the province including police, RCMP, firefighters and provincial health officials. The 911 system takes calls and determines the nature of the emergency before passing callers on to a dispatch system for ambulance, fire or police. As of July 1997, there were seven 911 call centres in Nova Scotia. The new call-dispatch equipment for Halifax Regional Municipality is located in the Bedford fire hall, and is supplemented by an office opened in Halifax last December that handles calls from municipality residents served by the RCMP. In addition, there were two call-dispatch centres operating in industrial Cape Breton, and one each in Yarmouth, Truro, and Amherst.

1997 July 9

Decision to Sell Kentville Electric Commission

Kentville Town Council voted 5-2 to negotiate with Nova Scotia Power Inc., for the sale of the Kentville Electric Commission for $13,000,000. After the Town and NSP had reached agreement on the details, the terms of the sale would have to be approved by the Municipal Affairs Department of the provincial government, and by the Utility and Review Board. More than $300,000 had been spent over the last two years on consultants' fees to study the proposed sale.
[Kentville Advertiser, 15 July 1997]

Historical notes about the Kentville Electric Commission

1997 July 12

Liberals Elect Leader
Using Telephone Voting

The Liberal Party of Nova Scotia elected a new leader, using telephone voting. The candidates were Bernie Boudreau, Bruce Holland, Russell MacLellan, and Roseanne Skoke. 187 telephone lines were installed, each with two operators; each voter was assigned one of these numbers to ensure that each line would handle about 65 voters. [For one voter, the voting line was 1-888-809-6983, and the PIN (personal identification number) was 13443983.]

Each registered voter received these instructions: "After dialing your 1-888 (toll-free) number, an operator will answer and ask you for your PIN number (sic) and will verify it with you. The operator will then ask you to name the candidate for whom you wish to vote. You will be asked to hold for verification and a second operator will repeat the process to ensure that your vote has been properly recorded. The operators will not have access to your name and you should not give your name to the operators. To vote in second or third ballots, if necessary, repeat this process, voting only for one of the candidates remaining on the ballot. The results of each ballot will be announced on the convention floor and broadcast on CBC television and CBC radio, and on several local radio stations." The first operator simply marked the vote on a paper ballot, then handed the marked ballot across the table to the second operator, who verified the marked vote and dropped the ballot into a box.

There were 12,226 registered voters — 10,233 voting by phone from anywhere in the province (at a registration cost of $25 each), and 1,993 voting by phone from inside the Halifax Metro Centre (at a registration cost of $50 each). 10,196 valid votes were cast on the first ballot, from 11:00am to 12:30pm. First ballot results were announced at 3:05pm, two hours later than the scheduled time; it was officially announced that the counting of the votes, which was done by people working through the paper ballots, took much longer than had been anticipated.

The first ballot result was:
    Boudreau 3256
    Holland 264
    MacLellan 4978
    Skoke 1698

Three names, Boudreau, MacLellan, and Skoke, were on the second ballot; voting was from 3:30 to 5:00, 9876 valid votes were cast, and the result was announced about 6:00pm. MacLellan won, with 56.1% of total votes cast.

1997 July 20

Avon Spirit Launched

The new square topsail schooner Avon Spirit was launched at Newport Landing (Avondale), Hants County, on this day. The wood-hull ship is 55 feet 16.8 metres long, 35 tons.

1997 July 22

List of Television Services
Eligible to be Delivered by Satellite
in Canada

Ever wonder how your cable company made its choices about what stations it would carry, and thus which stations you would be able to see? Here's the official list of stations which were permitted to be delivered by satellite, in Canada, as of this day.

1997 August

Large Consumer of Electricity

Bowater Mersey Paper Company's mill at Brooklyn, Queens County, is believed to be the second largest single consumer of electricity in Nova Scotia (after Stora, Port Hawkesbury). Bowater vice-president Rick Gilbert, during an interview reported in the Halifax Chronicle-Herald on August 9, said the mill's "peak power load is 100 megawatts." Considering the high load factor typical of such mills, it is estimated that BMC's Brooklyn mill has an annual consumption of more than 800 gigawatt-hours 3000 terajoules of electrical energy, which indicates the cost of electric power is in the vicinity of a million dollars a week. The mill's electrical requirements increased to this level in 1989, with the completion of the thermomechanical pulping plant, which uses heat and a mechanical process to convert wood chips into fibre; this process uses no chemicals but does use large quantities of electrical power. Mr. Gilbert was interviewed after BMPC announced plans to spend $7,400,000 to make improvements to the mill, including modifications designed to reduce the energy costs of the paper manufacturing process.
[The Halifax Chronicle-Herald, 9 August 1997]

1997 August 4

High Speed Internet Access
Through Cable TV

On this day, Access Communications Inc., a cable TV company operating in parts of Nova Scotia, first made available to some of its customers in Dartmouth a new high speed Internet access using coaxial cables with cable modems. By November 1997, display advertisements in the Halifax Sunday Daily News told readers that more than 30,000 homes in Dartmouth, Bedford and Sackville could then obtain high speed Internet access through the cable TV lines of Access Communications Inc. The information below was obtained from WAVE, Access Communications Inc., (which used to have a website at http://wave.accesscable.com/wave.html) and other sources.

1997 August 11

Sydney Airport Changes Ownership

On this day, the ownership of the Sydney Airport was transferred from the federal government to the Sydney Airport Authority, a local organization set up by the Cape Breton Regional Municipality. The airport was handed over by federal Transportation Minister David Colinette. The SAA's chairman was Vince MacLean. It was reported that, as part of the deal, the federal government has agreed to perform an environmental cleanup at the airport, and to provide $2,000,000 for resurfacing the main runway. Recently, the airport has been losing money at a rate in excess of a million dollars a year.

1997 August 13

Current Technology Prices

This week's flyer from Business Depot Ltd., 202 Brownlow Avenue, Dartmouth, effective 13-19 August 1997, displayed the following prices for consumer electronics items. These were retail prices, 15% sales tax to be added.

$2499.00 for IBM Computer, with Intel Pentium 166 MHz MMX processor, 24 megabyte EDO RAM (random access memory), 2.5 gigabyte hard drive, 12× CD-ROM (compact disc read-only memory, 12 times standard speed) drive, 33.6 kilobit per second modem (for connection to a standard twisted-pair local telephone line), including 14 inch 35.5 cm (diagonal measurement) monitor, and (included with the computer package) Canon BJC 240SB Colour Printer.

$329.99 for a Western Digital 2.1 gigabyte hard drive; $490.99 for a Western Digital 4.0 gigabyte hard drive; (these drives for installation in a personal computer).

$59.99 for an 8-megabyte RAM (random access memory) chip; $119.99 for a 16-megabyte RAM chip; (these chips for installation in a personal computer).

$149.99 for a Goldstar 16× CD-ROM (compact disc read-only memory, 16 times standard speed) drive.

$199.99 for an Epson Stylus 200 Colour Printer, with 700 × 360 dpi (dots per inch) 275 × 142 dots per cm resolution, printing speed 2½ pages per minute, and 2-year warranty.

$19.99 for a Texas Instruments TI-30XA Solar Powered hand held calculator, with ten-digit dispaly, trigonometric and statistical functions.

$9.99 for a Canon F-500 Scientific hand-held calculator, with a ten-digit display, 136 scientific and statistics functions, automatic power off, complex numbers, random number generator, and able to perform calculations in decimal, binary, octal, and hexadecimal.

$25.99 for a package of three Maxell Recordable CD R74H (compact discs), 640 megabyte capacity.

$89.99 for a General Electric 25-channel cordless telephone, with 25-channel auto scan, 10 number memory, and base-handset paging.

$199.99 for a Sharp UX-107 Thermal Fax machine, with 64 half tones, 20-page document feeder, personal computer link function, and 50-number auto dialer.

1997 August 16

CBH-FM Sign-On Announcement

Since the very early days it has been a custom (and later a legal requirement) that each radio station "sign-on" at the beginning of each day's operation, and "sign-off" at the end, with a formal announcement stating the official call letters, and certain basic technical details about the station's transmitter, such as the licensed carrier frequency, and authorized maximum power emsission.  For many people who were, and are, interested in radio, this sign-on announcement was, and is, the best source of reliable up-to-date information about a station.  When some stations expanded their schedule to 24-hour operation, there was, for them, no longer a time when the transmitter was turned on/off at the beginning/end of the day's schedule, but the formal "sign-on" announcement was still made once a day.  At 4:58am this day, CBH-FM broadcast the following: "CBH-FM is the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation's frequency modulation station in Halifax, and is authorized by the Canadian Television and Telecommunications Commission, and the federal Department of Canadian Heritage.  CBH-FM is transmitting on an assigned frequency of 102.7 megahertz.  The effective radiated power is 92 kilowatts.  CBH-FM broadcasts 24 hours a day, and is part of the Stereo Network service of CBC English Radio.  CBC Stereo programming is transmitted to more than twenty Canadian cities; this national service is transmitting via satellite to Canadian cable systems in areas where there are no CBC Stereo transmitters.  We invite you now to stay with us as we begin our Stereo broadcast schedule."

1997 August 18

Global Television Network's First Day

CanWest Global Communications Corporation, 201 Portage Avenue, Winnipeg, an international broadcaster with substantial financial interests in Australia's Network Ten and New Zealand's TV3, is Canada's largest, privately-owned television station group, with member stations UTV in Vancouver, STV in Regina, STV in Saskatoon, CKND-TV in Winnipeg, Global Television in Toronto, CKMI-TV in Quebec, CIHF-TV1 Halifax-Dartmouth and CIHF-TV2, Saint John, (the last two being known collectively as MITV Maritimes).  As of this day, the eight Canadian TV stations, including MITV's Channel 6 in Halifax, formerly known as the CanWest Global System, became known collectively as the Global Television Network, Canada's third national English TV network.  An item in the Halifax Chronicle-Herald of August 16, included this quote from the press release: "With the recent signing of the long-term program deal with WIC's Alberta stations, and the company's soon-to-be-launched Quebec station, CanWest Global programming will be presented in every province in Canada, except Newfoundland," said executive chairman I.H. Asper.  "It is appropriate at this time to adopt a consistent name from coast to coast." At this time, CanWest Global television stations serve approximately 78% of the English-language population of Canada.

1997 August 23

CBHT Sign-On

The CBHT Halifax transmitter, which had been turned off for several hours (the regular Saturday schedule), was turned on at 8:18am, broadcasting the standard colour-bar test pattern on channel 3.  At 8:30, the following list, of CBC television transmitter locations and their channel assignments, was shown:

1997 August 26

ASN Sign-On

At 5:59am, the Atlantic Satellite Network broadcast the following, immediately preceding the 6:00am beginning of its regular Tuesday schedule:  "Licenced by the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission, ASN is an advertising-supported service delivered to your local cable system.  ASN is on a CANCOM-delivered compressed digital signal, on ANIK E-2 C-band transponder 8B vertically polarized virtual channel three-ten."

1997 August 27

Telecommunications Resellers

Below is a list of Telecommunications Resellers believed to be doing business in Nova Scotia at this time.  Care has been taken to be as accurate as possible, but this list may be incomplete.

2485694 Nova Scotia Limited
10 Webster Street, Suite 209
Town Square Business Centre, Drawer 101
Kentville, NS B4N 1H7
Mr. David Chandler
Tel 902- 679-1551, Fax 902- 678-0133

3002859 Nova Scotia Limited (T/A CK Telecom)
106 Silver Birch Drive
Hubley, NS B3Z 1A8
Mr. Chris Mayne, Managing Director
Tel 902- 876-1512, Fax 902- 876-1519

A.C. Telecommunications Group
101-80 Ilsley Avenue
Dartmouth, NS B3B 1S8
Mr. Michael O'Leary, President & C.E.O.
Tel 902- 492-7283, Fax 902- 422-6562

ASP Northern Ltd.
PO Box 999
Antigonish, NS B2G 2S3
Mr. P Stewart, President
Tel 902- 867-5701, Fax 902- 867-5706

Atlantic Canada Telecom
23 Spring Street, # 710
Hamilton, ON L8N 2P1
Mr. Sharif Soliman
Tel (905) 524-0188

Cabletec Limited
327 Windmill Road
Suite 203, Windmill Centre
Dartmouth, NS B3A 1H7
Mr. Clair J Callaghan, President
Tel 902- 464-8353, Fax 902- 465-2126

Canadian Satellite Communications Inc. (CANCOM)
Regulatory, Corporate & Native Affairs
155 Queen Street, Suite 1204
Ottawa, ON K1P 6L2
Mr. Paul Racine, Vice-President
Tel (613) 232-4814, Fax (613) 232-1177

Computerized Business Solutions
P.O. Box 1838
Greenwood, NS B0P 1N0
Mr. Gordon Squires, President
Tel 902- 765-2072, Fax 902- 765-6173

Fonorola Inc.
500 Rene-Levesque Blvd Ouest, 3rd floor
Montreal, QC H2Z 1W7
Mr. Leonard D. Eichel, Director - Regulatory Affairs
Tel (514) 954-3666, Fax (514) 954-4329
[On 26 June 1998, Fonorola ceased to exist as an independent company. On that day, it was taken over by Sprint Canada.]

Long Distance Atlantic
Purdy's Wharf Tower II, Box 5
1969 Upper Water Street, Suite 1610
Halifax, NS B3J 3R7
Mr. Patrick J Sulley, President & CEO
Tel 902- 496-0300, Fax 902- 496-0600

MT&T Advanced Communications
Park Place Centre, Tower 1
238 Brownlow Avenue, Suite 200
Dartmouth, NS B3B 1Y2
Mr. Carl Dexter, President
Tel 902- 481-2351, Fax 902- 468-8699

Northwoodcare Inc.
2615 Northwood Terrace
Halifax, NS B3K 3S5
Ms. Sherry Shortliffe
Tel 902- 454-3364

The Phone Club of Canada, Ltd.
P.O. Box 3232, Station B
Fredricton, NB E3A 5G9
Mr. Randy Roussie, President
Tel (506) 455-2582, Fax (506) 453-9784

Quality Connections Communications Inc.
PO Box 999
Antigonish, NS B2G 2S3
Mr. Joe Stewart, President & CEO
Tel 902- 867-5701, Fax 902- 867-5705

Rosenbrewer Communications
3A Marriott Street
Halifax, NS B3N 1V2
Mr. Scott N Brewer
Tel 902- 479-1080, Fax 902- 479-3170

SCL Atlantic
10 Morris Drive, Suite 36
Dartmouth, NS B3B 1K8
Mr. Brian Stevens, President
Tel 902- 468-4620, Fax 902- 468-9121

Sonco Property Development & Services Company Inc.
1718 Argyle Street
Halifax, NS B3J 3N6
Ms. Debbie McIsaac, Vice-President
Tel 902- 429-8200, Fax 902- 425-0581

Sprint Canada Inc.
c/o Call-Net Enterprises Inc.
2235 Sheppard Avenue East. Atria II, Suite 1800
North York, ON M2J 5G1
Mr. Jean Brazeau, Vice-President - Regulatory Affairs
Tel (416) 718-6466, Fax (416) 718-6487

Room 5038, G.A. Hickman Building
Memorial University of Newfoundland
St. John's, NF A1B 3X8
Mr. Harvey Weir, Executive Director
Tel (709) 737-8836, Fax (709) 737-2179

True Savings Limited
102 Chain Lake Drive, Unit 1A
Halifax, NS B3S 1A7
Mr. Doug Murchison
Tel 902- 450-5737

UUnet Canada Inc.
20 Bay Street, Suite 1910
Toronto, ON M5J 2N8
Mr. Roger Gilodo, Vice-President, Operations
Tel (416) 216-5110, Fax (416) 368-1350

1997 August 29

AVR Sign-On

At 5:29am, the following was broadcast in the Annapolis Valley: "Good morning, from the Valley's country music station AVR, serving the Annapolis Valley of Nova Scotia. The AVR network is owned and operated by Annapolis Valley Radio Limited. There are five stations in the AVR network system. CFAB Windsor, fourteen fifty AM, with studios at one sixty-nine Water Street in Windsor. Its one thousand watt transmitter is just off highway one oh one at Windsor. CKEN Kentville, fourteen ninety AM with studios at twenty-nine Oakdene Avenue in Kentville. Its one thousand watt transmitter is located in Upper Dyke, Kings County. CKAD Middleton, thirteen fifty AM, with studios at ten Bridge Street in Middleton. Its one thousand watt transmitter is in Spa Springs, Annapolis County. CKDY Digby, fourteen twenty AM, with studios at fifty-three Sydney Street, Digby. Its one thousand watt transmitter is in Mount Pleasant, Digby County. And finally, CKDY-one FM, one oh three point three, which rebroadcasts the CKDY signal. Its three thousand watt transmitter is located in Weaver settlement, Digby County. Thanks for listening, and enjoy your day with AVR, the Valley's country music station."

1997 September 1

CBC Renames Radio Networks

On this day, the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation officially renamed its two English-language radio networks. Since the mid-1970s, the monophonic (one audio channel) network was officially called CBC Radio; this was planned to be, and mostly was, transmitted in the AM (amplitude modulated) format. The stereophonic (two audio channels) network has been officially called CBC Stereo; this was planned to be, and was, transmitted in the FM (frequency modulated) format. The CBC Radio network was limited by technical considerations to an audio frequency range below 10 kilohertz, and thus was inherently a lower-fidelity system; its programming was oriented more heavily to talk shows, which are not noticeably impaired by the 10 kHz limitation. The CBC Stereo network was able to carry a full audio range in stereophonic format, and its programming was oriented more heavily to classical music.

On this day, the CBC renamed the CBC Radio network to CBC Radio One: News and More, and the CBC Stereo network to CBC Radio Two: Classics and Beyond. In its 20 August issue, the Halifax Chronicle-Herald reported that Alex Frame, CBC Director of Programming for English Radio, said "the change will help to end the confusion created by the appearance of both services on FM in Halifax, and soon in Toronto and Montreal." In a news release on 19 August, Harold Redekopp, CBC Vice-President for English Radio, said: "Digital radio is the future of radio: near CD-quality sound and perfect reception, plus value-added services delivered to 'smart' receivers ... CBC Radio is in the forefront of this new technology. The CBC is also expanding its presence on the World Wide Web (part of the Internet). CBC Radio One and Two are already on-line (on the Internet) 24 hours a day."

The official date of this renaming was Monday, 1 September, but the new names were used occasionally on air a week earlier, and were in general use by CBC announcers by the previous Thursday, 28 August.

1997 September 1

Seven-Year Licence Renewals for

The Canadian Radio-television & Telecommunications Commission (CRTC), approved the renewal of the following 21 broadcasting licences for seven years, from 1 September 1997 to 31 August 2004.

1997 September 1

Four-Year Licence Renewal for

CRTC Decision 97-414 dated 13 August 1997 approved the application by Maritime Broadcasting System Limited, Halifax, for the renewal of the broadcasting licence for radio station CHNS Halifax and its shortwave transmitter CHNX, from 1 September 1997 to 31 August 2001. The decision included this: This term will enable the Commission to assess at an early date the licensee's compliance with subsection 2.2(3) of the Radio Regulations, 1986, which requires, among other things, that at least 30% of all musical selections broadcast each week from content category 2 be Canadian. While submitting the material pertaining to the programming aired by CHNS during the week of 25 February to 2 March 1996, the licensee admitted to a shortfall in Canadian content, with 29.35% for the week in question. The licensee explained that the error occurred while CHNS took a local commercial break from the "Good Time Oldies" service broadcast on the Satellite Radio Network (now the Pelmorex radio network). The licensee assured the Commission that steps have been taken to ensure future compliance. The Commission views with great concern the licensee's failure to comply with this regulatory requirement. It intends to monitor the licensee's performance during the new licence term, and directs the licensee to take all necessary measures to ensure that CHNS meets the Canadian content requirement at all times.
[There are 168 hours in one week. 0.65% of one week is 65.5 minutes.]

1997 September 2

AVRSB is Now Connected

Annapolis Valley Regional School Board
is the First School Board in Nova Scotia
to Achieve 100% of Schools Connected

On September 2, 1997 MT&T finished the installation of EDnet at Dr. Arthur Hines School in Summerville, Hants County. This is the last school site to be done making the Annapolis Valley Regional School Board the first regional board in Nova Scotia to be totally connected. Phase 1 is now complete with every school, every school office, library, computer lab and many classrooms connected to EDnet. The School Board offices in Berwick, the Teachers Centres, and Maintenance Offices are also connected to each other and to the schools. Through the EDnet "wide area network" the AVRSB sites are part of the Nova Scotia Educational Network and are connected to and accessible through the Internet.

The first objective of the EDnet project was to have the capacity to provide every student and staff member (teachers, administrators, librarians, secretaries, janitors, Board members, ...) with an email address and personal web page. That capacity is in place through an agreement with Glooscap OnLine Society. With support from Industry Canada, Glooscap and the AVRSB have established a large, fast Internet server at Horton District High School. This server provides email and "world wide web" services to all schools which do not have their own on-site server. Some schools have decided to provide personal email accounts for every student, while some schools provide shared class accounts which are managed by the classroom teacher.

World Wide Web Pages

Each school in the region has a place for its own web page. The AVRSB Web Page Address Model simply places www in front of the school's domain name. For example, the Gaspereau Elementary School home page is at www.gaspereau.ednet.ns.ca. The home page for the Annapolis Valley Regional School Board is www.avrsb.ednet.ns.ca. The Schools button on the AVRSB home page provides a link to a current listing of all schools. Links to individual school home pages are available.

As Coordinator of Technology for the AVRSB, Fred Crouse has been the leader of this project. The EDnet design team has included Bill Pollard (MT&T), John Fahie (Department of Education), Neil Balcom and Piotr Proszynski (Glooscap OnLine Society), and Bill Landry (AVRSB Tech Support). Claire Paterson (Secretary to Fred Crouse) has coordinated the people, parts, installations, start-up and service. From April 1996 to July 1997 many kilometres of blue cables have been pulled through the 43 schools of the region. David Floyd, Coordinator of Property Services for the AVRSB, and his excellent crew led by Dale Isnor (Electrician) have installed the network wiring, while Bill Landry and Gerry Burrell (AVRSB Tech Support) have completed the connections and installed the network cards and software. Training of school staff, including secretaries, library techs, administrators, and some teachers, as well as the school-based EDnet Coordinators has been lead by Bill Doucet (teacher, Aldershot Elementary), Paul Hanson (teacher, Windsor Regional) and Murray Freeman (teacher, Bridgetown Regional) ...

So What Now?

Who would have thought a year or two ago that all 43 schools in this region would be connected to each other, to Central Office, to the Department of Education and to the Internet by a high speed, full-time, very stable network? It has happened. By September 1997, over 800 individual computers across the Valley schools will have fulltime access to this network. Teachers have already begun to realize the potential of this connectivity. Students are communicating through email regularly. Thousands of messages a day are being passed to and from the school email accounts. Research projects which incorporate Internet searches are becoming a common practice in elementary middle and high schools across the region. Where will this lead? Clearly the habit of timely communication using current electronic tools is becoming a normal part of our children's everyday lives. This project is providing one more way to enhance the development of communication skills in our students ...

[Source: http://www.avrsb.ednet.ns.ca/board/ednet.html ]
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Archived: 2001 September 22

1997 September 6

Live on Fourteen Channels,
King William IV and King William V

For a communications historian, the funeral of Princess Diana provided a significant milestone, marking the current stage of development of electronic communications.  This morning, as I watched Prince William, the future King William the Fifth, walking behind his mother's coffin along the streets of London, I was reminded of the markedly different communications methods available just two lifetimes earlier, at the time of the death of King William the Fourth.

In its issue of 28 July 1837, The Yarmouth Herald, a weekly newspaper printed in Nova Scotia, reported that King William IV "presented the Princess Victoria, on her birth day, with a magnificent grand piano-forte, by Broadwood, of the value of 200 guineas, as a mark of his affection."  The same issue also included a note that "The health of His Majesty is on the decline."  Nobody in Yarmouth knew that the King of England had by then been dead 38 days, and his funeral had been held 20 days previously.  William IV was the son of George III, and had become King on 26 June 1830, on the death of George IV.  He was succeeded by his niece Alexandrina Victoria, daughter of the Duke of Kent and granddaughter of George III.

The news of the death of His Majesty William the Fourth, which occurred at Windsor Castle on 20 June 1837, was received at Yarmouth, Nova Scotia, 41 days later, on 31 July 1837, and was reported in the 4 August issue of The Yarmouth Herald.  The King's funeral had been held on 8 July 1837.  The first report of the funeral was printed in The Yarmouth Herald of 25 August 1837, 48 days days after the event.  In the 1830s, news and information of any kind required six to seven weeks to cross the North Atlantic Ocean from England to the east coast of North America.  And there were no pictures — photography was just pecking at the shell.

160 years later, in 1997, information, including moving pictures in full colour with on-the-spot audio, travels across the North Atlantic in less than one second.  In the village of Canning, in Nova Scotia, the funeral of Princess Diana was reported by at least nine different news organizations, which were carried live on fourteen television channels by the analog coaxial cable system operated by Cross Country TV Limited of Lower Canard, Kings County.  I had a better overall view of the proceedings than any of the participants.  I heard the clop of a horse's shoe on the pavement, before that horse's next clop was heard by people standing beside the funeral procession.  The funeral began at 5:00am Nova Scotia time, with the departure of the procession from Kensington Palace.  From 5:00 until 8:30, thirteen channels were available in Canning, carrying live and continuous (no commercial breaks) video in full colour.  A fourteenth channel operated from 6:00 until 8:08.  During the ceremony, from 7:00 to 8:00, there were excellent views from inside Westminster Abbey.  Thirteen channels continued until 8:30, and from 8:30 until 9:00 there were ten channels, mostly carrying scenes of the hearse driving northward away from Westminster Abbey, and of people tossing flowers toward the hearse as it passed.

At one point, about 7:01, ABC split its screen into four quadrants, carrying four live video segments showing crowds of people in Toronto, Washington, Atlanta, and Hong Kong, as they watched the funeral on giant TV screens set up in public places.  In Canning, I was watching on two screens.  At that moment one screen was tuned to A&E which was carrying a signal direct from the BBC, and the other screen was tuned to ABC.  In one quadrant of my ABC screen, I could see in the background the video on the giant public screen in Times Square in Hong Kong, and at the same time I had on my A&E screen the direct feed from the BBC in London.  The delay between the two was maybe half a second — between my view of the funeral scene direct from London, and my view of Hong Kong with the same funeral scene which had to be sent from London half way around the world to Hong Kong, displayed in Hong Kong, picked up on a camera in Hong Kong, and sent to my home in Nova Scotia.

It was a vivid demonstration of the stage of development of modern communications.  One wonders — if they could have seen this electronic communications system in operation, what would have been the thoughts of Alexander Lawson, or Daniel Craig, or Hiram Hyde, or Fred Gisborne, or Cyrus Field, or Joseph Howe, or Samuel Cunard, or James Gordon Bennett, all far-sighted people who could sense and take swift advantage of the opportunities offered by developing technology.  All of them had struggled to reduce the time taken to move information from one place to another.  They all had seen remarkable advances during their lifetimes, including the development of the electric telegraph, but I doubt any of them ever contemplated what we take for granted in 1997.

As I watched live video of the Queen Mother, at age 97, walking unaided into Westminster Abbey, I thought that, when she was growing up in Scotland, she would have known elderly people who had clear memories of the 1830s, during the time of King William IV, when information moved on land at the speed of a horse, and on the ocean at the speed of a sailing vessel subject to the whims of wind and weather.  That was just two lifetimes ago.

During the funeral, my viewing choices were as follows:

Channel 35 carried the funeral from 6:00am until 8:08am.  All the others carried the funeral from 5:00am or before, until 8:30am or later.  All carried continuous (no breaks) coverage.

1997 September 9

Final Report Issued,
The Information Highway Advisory Council

In 1994, the government sought advice on 15 specific issues — covering the spectrum of economic, social and cultural questions surrounding the Information Highway, and set up the Information Highway Advisory Council (IHAC) to do the research and formulate the advice.  In May 1996, the federal government issued Building the Information Society: Moving Canada into the 21st Century, which contained a far-ranging Canadian strategy for the Information Highway.  More than 30 federal departments and agencies participated in its development.  That document indicated that action was either under way or completed in relation to roughly two thirds of IHAC's recommendations.  Further work has been done since then.

The report issued today, Preparing Canada for a Digital World, is the Final Report of The Information Highway Advisory Council.  Among its recommendations: no Internet content restrictions; a $50,000,000 a year fund to promote Canadian Internet content; defense of telephone affordability; improved Internet access in rural areas.  "Our message is simple.  We live in a remarkable period of history in an extraordinarily blessed nation.  Carpe Diem.  Let us seize the day."

Source: Department of Industry, Ottawa

The Wayback Machine has archived copies of this document:
Preparing Canada for a Digital World
Final Report of The Information Highway Advisory Council

Archived: 1999 January 17

Archived: 2000 August 15

Archived: 2001 August 02

Archived: 2002 October 15

1997 September 10

ExpressVu Launches
Digital DTH Satellite Service

In Nova Scotia, 69 digital video channels now,
plus 34 CD-quality music channels

and 180 video channels by October 1998

On this day, ExpressVu Inc. launched its DTH (direct-to-home) satellite service across Canada, vowing to beat cable on price and quality and to offer more channels than its rival Star Choice Television Network. The ExpressVu DISH Network service offered Canadians from Vancouver Island to Newfoundland an extensive array of programming, delivered directly to their homes with digital clarity, using a small 60cm 24-inch satellite dish at the receiving end.

ExpressVu, based in Toronto, was 90% owned by BCE Inc. of Montreal. BCE owned Bell Canada, the largest telephone company in the country, and 58% of Telesat, Canada's satellite monopoly. WIC (Western International Communications Ltd.) of Vancouver, and its 53.7%-owned subsidiary, Canadian Satellite Communications Inc. (CanCom) of Mississauga, owned the other 10% of ExpressVu.

ExpressVu's customer call centre was open 24 hours a day, seven days a week at 1-888-SKY-DISH (759-3474). ExpressVu's hardware, for use at the viewer's end, was priced from $599 to $999, and was available to consumers in a choice of three state-of-the-art digital set-top boxes, with a remote control and a 60 cm dish that the company said was easy to install. Distribution of ExpressVu's set-top boxes and 24 inch 60 cm dishes to major consumer retail chains and electronics dealers across Canada began on August 26th. More than 1100 retail stores, including The Bay, Bell Mobility, Future Shop, Kmart, Real Canadian Superstores, Sears, True Value Hardware Stores and Wal-Mart Canada, carried ExpressVu's DTH system. In addition to mass merchant retail, more than 500 individual satellite, TV and consumer electronics dealers across Canada carried the ExpressVu receiving hardware at launch.

Guy Skipworth, vice-president of Star Choice, in commenting on his competition's launch, said his company's call centre had been operating since April 1997, and Star Choice receiving hardware and software was available in 4,000 Canadian retail outlets compared to ExpressVu's 1,100. [In The Globe and Mail of 17 December 1997, Mr. Skipworth was quoted as saying that Star Choice had 23,000 customers as of 31 October 1997, and expected to reach 100,000 by August 1998. The break-even mark for Star Choice is about 180,000 to 200,000 customers, he said.]

The cost of ExpressVu's service ranged from a modest eight-channel all-Canadian package called Starters at $7.95 per month, up to $45.95 for All You Can Eat TV, an all-inclusive package that the company said would provide a $15.00 saving compared a comparable monthly cable bill. However, leasing the ExpressVu receiving equipment was expected to cost about $15 a month over four years, depending on the dealer and the equipment chosen by the subscriber. Other menu items included: the Sports Bar ($5.95), Brain Food ($5.95), Fine Dining ($6.95), Kids Size ($3.95), Network Platter ($6.95), Film Feast ($19.95), the House Special ($29.95), All You Can Eat TV ($45.95), After Hours ($15.95), and a la carte options — Telelatino ($9.95), South Asian Television ($14.95) and Fairchild ($19.95).

ExpressVu's startup offering included 69 digital video channels in the east, 48 in the west, and 34 CD-quality Galaxie music channels. In mid-October 1997, the company expected an additional six Canadian and U.S. specialty channels — the Golf Channel, Speedvision, History, Teletoon, Comedy and Space — to become available in each region, and eight pay-per-view channels in the east and five in the west shortly thereafter.

In the autumn of 1998, TelSat Canada's new Direct Broadcast Satellite (DBS) was scheduled to be launched. ExpressVu planned to buy 17 of this satellite's 32 transponders, and WIC (Western International Communications Ltd.) of Vancouver, part owner of ExpressVu, was to buy the other 15. (A transponder is the device on a satellite that receives a signal transmitted from Earth, amplifies the signal, changes the carrier frequency, and retransmits it toward Earth.) In the autumn of 1998, ExpressVu planned to move to the new TelSat DBS satellite, enabling the company to offer viewers more than 180 channels, with "the prospect of more than 300 channels of television programming", Mr. Neuman said. He said that ExpressVu subscribers would receive free hardware and software upgrades when the service shifts to the new satellite.

ExpressVu's total investment in the service, including the purchase of satellite space, totals about $185,000,000, not including marketing costs. The company forecasts Canada will have about two million dish users by 2005, and it expects to have 75% of that market. On the day ExpressVu's service was officially launched it had about 2,000 subscribers already signed up.

The startup program menu included: Note 1: Available for a six month free viewing period when each network launches.

Sources: Excerpted from
an ExpressVu press release dated 10 September 1997,
the Globe and Mail of 10 and 11 September 1997, and
the Halifax Chronicle-Herald of 2 September 1997.

1997 September 11

ATV Celebrates 25th Anniversary

On this day, the Atlantic Television Network celebrated its 25th anniversary during the Live At Five show, 5:00 - 6:00pm. The hour was a mixture of shots of the celebratory party in the studio with guests who had been part of ATV's management and staff over the years, and clips from news events and features over the previous 25 years, including several 'blooper' sequences.

1997 September 13

From Calcutta,
Live on Seven Channels

The funeral of Mother Teresa in Calcutta, India, was carried live on seven television channels in Canning, Nova Scotia, on the analog coaxial cable system operated by Cross Country T.V. Ltd.  During the funeral, the viewing choices were as follows: Coverage began at 1:30am, Nova Scotia time, and was continuous.  Coverage ended on channels 7 and 12 at 4:30am, on channels 6, 28, and 34 at 4:50, on channels 3 and 29 at 5:00, and channel 37 at 5:50.

1997 September 16

Improved Safety at Railway Crossings

Transport Minister David Collenette today announced that the federal government will provide $4,051,800 in assistance to improve safety at 36 railway crossings across Canada. Transport Canada will finance up to 80 per cent of the total cost of the improvements. The balance of funding will be provided by the railways, municipalities or provinces. Under a Transport Canada crossing improvement program, eligible railway crossings will be either upgraded, relocated or closed. Improvements may include the installation of flashing lights and gates, the addition of gates or extra lights to existing systems, the interconnection of crossing signals to nearby traffic lights, the modification of operating circuits, or the addition of new circuits or timing devices.

This program includes two railway crossings in Nova Scotia.  $56,600 has been allocated to the County Road crossing in Elmsdale, Halifax County, and $112,800 to the Park Street crossing in Truro.

[Department of Transport press release]

1997 September 25

Halifax Port Corporation
Vice-Chairman Appointed

Transport Minister David Collenette today announced the appointment of David Ignatius Jones of Dartmouth, N.S., as vice-chairman of the Board of Directors of the Halifax Port Corporation, effective immediately. Mr. Jones is a graduate of Saint Mary's University and Dalhousie Law School. Appointed Queen's Counsel in 1973, he has been practising law for forty years. Mr. Jones is a partner with the law firm Huestis Holm and a member of the Barristers' Society's Committee for Establishment of Nova Scotia Legal Aid. The Halifax Port Corporation is a Crown corporation established in 1984 under the Canada Ports Corporation Act. It is one of the 14 ports across Canada that make up Canada Ports Corporation. In 1996, the port handled more than 13,000,000 tonnes of cargo, including crude and refined oil, fuel, gypsum, containerized cargo, and grain.
[Department of Transport press release]

1997 September 26

Larrys River Bridge Collapses

Larrys River Bridge on Route 316 in Guysborough County collapsed this day after being struck by a tractor-trailer. Motorists were advised to detour via the Lundy Road, and Route 316 to Trunk 16 via Port Felix. The Department of Transportation and Public Works installed a single-lane replacement bridge which was open for traffic two weeks later.

1997 September 26 - 27

History of Communications

The Marconi Towers Foundation sponsored a seminar on Atlantic Canada's Role in the History of Communications at the Delta Sydney Hotel, 300 Esplanade, Sydney.  The objective was to explore ways to promote the theme of Atlantic Canada's important role in the history of communications for purposes of tourism and culture.

The Program

Session 1 Friday, September 26, 1:30 - 4:30

1. Welcoming remarks by Dan MacDonald, President, Marconi Towers Foundation

2. At The Speed Of A Horse: Delivering The News Before 1840, presented by Ivan Smith, Canning, Nova Scotia

3. Heart's Content Cable Station, presented by Linda Babcock, Department of Tourism, Culture, and Recreation, St. John's, Newfoundland

4. Communications History At Signal Hill National Historic Site and Marconi's First Transatlantic Wireless Signal, presented by Donald Parsons, Canadian Heritage, St. John's, Newfoundland

Session 2 Saturday, September 27, 9:30 - 12:00

1. Parks Canada And The Presentation Of Nova Scotia's Role In The History Of Telecommunications, presented by Judith Tulloch, Parks Canada Atlantic Regional Office, Halifax, Nova Scotia

2. The Cape Breton Stations Of The First Transatlantic Radio Service, presented by Henry Bradford, Marconi Towers Foundation, Sydney, Nova Scotia

3. A Proposed Transatlantic Radio Service Museum At Marconi Towers, Nova Scotia. Proposal presented by Dan MacDonald, President, Marconi Towers Foundation, Sydney, Nova Scotia. Results of a market survey presented by Terry Smith, Icon Communications Inc., Sydney, Nova Scotia.

Session 3 Saturday, September 27, 1:30 - 4:30

Future Promotion Of The Theme Of Atlantic Canada's Role In The History Of Communications

This was a general discussion of the theme by seminar participants. As was shown by the presentations in Sessions 1 and 2, many milestones in the World History of Communications occurred in Newfoundland and Nova Scotia, and several museums devoted to the subject were in existence. The seminar addresses several topics, including:  Can we do more to tell this important and interesting story to visitors from around the world?  How do we market this theme?  How do we tell the story to our own schoolchildren?  Can we organize related activities?  How will we celebrate upcoming transatlantic radio centennials?  Will Italy play a role?  Can radio amateurs help?  What sort of co-operation and co-ordination between Newfoundland and Nova Scotia would be beneficial?  Should we establish a joint working group to promote the communications history theme?

Contact:  Jennifer Pino, e-mail jpino@uccb.ns.ca
Secretary-Treasurer, Marconi Towers Foundation
c/o University College of Cape Breton
PO Box 5300, Sydney, Nova Scotia B1P 6L2
Phone 902-563-1287, Fax 902-562-0119

Note:  The Marconi Towers Foundation is an organization dedicated to the preservation and development of the Marconi Towers Station site near Glace Bay, Nova Scotia.

Go To:   History of Telegraph and Telephone Companies in Nova Scotia

Go To:   History of Railway Companies in Nova Scotia

Go To:   History of Electric Power Companies in Nova Scotia

Go To:   History of Automobiles in Nova Scotia

Go To:   Nova Scotia History, Chapter One

Go To:   Nova Scotia in the War of 1812

Go To:   Nova Scotia Historical Biographies

Go To:   Proclamations: Land Grants in Nova Scotia 1757, '58, '59

Go To:   Statutes of Nova Scotia, 1805, edited by Richard John Uniacke

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