Sunday, March 23, 2014

Sackville's RCI shortwave towers are gone

Last week, the last of 13 shortwave towers that have been located on the Tantramar Marsh a few kilometres east of Sackville, New Brunswick were torn down and removed, after having stood on that site for the past 70 years.  They are gone.  Forever.

The former location of those towers:

The site was originally built there in 1938 to for local radio broadcasting.  In 1943, Radio Canada International (RCI), Canada's "Voice to the World". erected the shortwave towers and installed two RCA shortwave transmitters, choosing the location because it is far enough from the earth’s magnetic pole and on the site of a salt marsh, which means nothing can interfere with the signal.

After WWII, the site began broadcasting shortwave signals to the entire world (leasing its spare transmission capacity to other international broadcasters) and those signals were broadcast for the following 67 years, until the summer of 2012.

When I was a small boy, my family lived for a couple of years on a small island in southern Alaska (in the Wrangall Narrows).  That was in 1962/63.  We weren't able to receive television or AM/FM radio broadcasts, but my dad did have a shortwave receiver, and it is quite likely (though I don't have any memory of it) that we listened to RCI, broadcast from Sackville NB.

Yes, other than a few people in the very most remote areas of the planet (mostly in Canada's Arctic and on the African continent) no one uses shortwave radios anymore.  It's antiquated technology.  It's obsolete. It is useless and it is time it was discarded.  All true.

It is also a bit saddening. 

The transmitting towers and antennae in the 1940's:
Inline image 1

And more recently:Inline image 2