Very Early Canadian Satellite Info.

Inno

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Original poster
Aug 13, 2006
1,596
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NW Ontario, Canada
Does anyone here have any technical knowlege of some of Canada's first satellite broadcasts. More specifically TV Ontario and their earth stations which served small isolate communities. I'd like to hear from anyone with any info. or memories of stuff from the mid to late 70s and early 80s.

I remember a temporary satellite dish being placed on the roof of our school, I believe it was blue in colour with a red lightning bolt on top. I can't remember just when this was done, very early 80s as I recall, possibly late 70s. I believe it was for reception of TV Ontario (educational programming). I'd really like to know as much about it as possible. I was facinated by it then (probably 6-8 years old) and I'd really like to know more about it.

Thank you
 
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Telesat launched 3 C Band satellites from 1972 to 1976. If I recall they had 12 transponders each. CBC started broadcasting in analog from A1 in 1973. Other Canadian broadcasters came on later including CTV, TVO, and NTV

The A series was replaced by the D series in the early 80's. They had 24 C Band transponders. Cancom started an encrypted service for cable head ends after the D series was launched. The encryption name escapes me, but I recall that the receiver and service cost for homeowners was very expensive.
 
Jumbo Dumbo said:
The encryption name escapes me, but I recall that the receiver and service cost for homeowners was very expensive.

They didn't use Videocypher like all the others?
 
Yes - Cancom used Oak Orion (as did most racetracks in the US). It had less than 20 channels on D1. Cost was over $1/channel/month
 
Actually, it had 8 channels using the Oak ORION system.
NBC-ABC-CBS-PBS from Detroit
CITV Edmonton
CHCH Hamilton
BCTV (CHAN) Vancouver
My memory is fading on the 8th channel, but think it might have been a French language channel from Montreal.
 
Inno said:
Does anyone here have any technical knowlege of some of Canada's first satellite broadcasts. More specifically TV Ontario and their earth stations which served small isolate communities. I'd like to hear from anyone with any info. or memories of stuff from the mid to late 70s and early 80s.

I remember a temporary satellite dish being placed on the roof of our school, I believe it was blue in colour with a red lightning bolt on top. I can't remember just when this was done, very early 80s as I recall, possibly late 70s. I believe it was for reception of TV Ontario (educational programming). I'd really like to know as much about it as possible. I was facinated by it then (probably 6-8 years old) and I'd really like to know more about it.

Thank you

The antenna you are talking about was made by Andrews Antenna. They were situated on Brock Rd. in the Pickering - Ajax area of Ontario.
Their transmit - receive antennas are used world wide.
The Andrew antennas I recall are white with the red lightning bolt at the top of the dish but blue could also have been used as the PC party and their choice of blue, was in power then.
 
mikekohl said:
Actually, it had 8 channels using the Oak ORION system.
NBC-ABC-CBS-PBS from Detroit
CITV Edmonton
CHCH Hamilton
BCTV (CHAN) Vancouver
My memory is fading on the 8th channel, but think it might have been a French language channel from Montreal.

They also offered Viewers Choice and Superchannel , both of which were movie channels. Initially, they were offered in the same areas of the country, later Viewers Choice took the east and Superchannel took the west.
 
bigoranget said:
TSN was encrypted with the Oak Orion system too as was CBFT Montreal.

An interesting beginning for TSN was when they first went on the air, their studios were not ready and CFTO-TV allowed TSN to start their first day of on - air broadcasting from the cafeteria of CFTO.
CFTO was the flagship station of the eventual CTV network.
As of today, they now own a majority of TSN.
I might add that all of CFTO's studios were in use at the time or TSN would not have been in the cafeteria. What TSN had there was the use of CFTO's 900' tower and a means to get the signal downtown.
 
Thanks for all the replies. I used to own a Cancom system, it seems pretty primative by todays standards. I remember when they shut it all down leaving rural Canada with virtually no Canadian satellite company.
I'm actually looking for information from before that time, from the time when TVO was broadcast by satellite only part of the day. Before they installed dishes and transmitters in isolate communitites. It may have been some sort of experimental system. It would have been around 1978-1980.....can't remember for sure, I was 5 in 1978.
 
Inno said:
Thanks for all the replies. I used to own a Cancom system, it seems pretty primative by todays standards. I remember when they shut it all down leaving rural Canada with virtually no Canadian satellite company.
I'm actually looking for information from before that time, from the time when TVO was broadcast by satellite only part of the day. Before they installed dishes and transmitters in isolate communitites. It may have been some sort of experimental system. It would have been around 1978-1980.....can't remember for sure, I was 5 in 1978.

I recall when TV Ontario with Elwy Yost did commentary for many of their shows.
It was broadcast into different Ontario towns usually on various UHF channels.
I presume you want info. from a time period before TVO used broadcast transmitters and was microwaved into schools for the school useage only.
 
TVO started operations back in 1970, as they heavily promoted their 35th anniversary last year.

Correction on the Oak ORION Cancom channels. I believe that the Montreal station was actually CFTM-TVA Channel 10.
 
Clancy said:
I recall when TV Ontario with Elwy Yost did commentary for many of their shows.
It was broadcast into different Ontario towns usually on various UHF channels.
I presume you want info. from a time period before TVO used broadcast transmitters and was microwaved into schools for the school useage only.

Yes, that's the kind of info. I'm looking for. Anyone who can remember details about the early systems. The reason I want to know is because it was the very first satellite dish I had ever seen (I was like 5-6 years old) and from my recollection, it was pointing into the northern sky. I'm sure it wasn't microwave to the area I lived, there's nothing close enough to us for that, definitely no microwave TV towers........if there were I'd have watched something other than the CBC for all those years. I recall it being there so they could tape shows for the classroom (readalong etc. on Sony U-matic tapes) and it was years before they installed a larger dish and transmitter for the rest of the community.

I believe the company that serviced the transmitter etc. was/is from Thunder Bay. I'm pretty sure the system is still broadcasting to this day.
 
Your area , if it was in NW Ontario, may have been involved in Canada's trial for eventual direct to home broadcasting.
Canada in 1962 started using a satellite called Alouette 1, for scientific and tele-medical purposes such as remote doctor assistance operations and diagnostics.
This satellite was later followed in 1972 by the worlds first domestic communications satellite which was called Anik A1. (brother A1)
Prior to the satellites, communications with the far north and other outlying areas was by short wave radio.
Anik1 brought to the outlying areas , which may have been your area, telephone systems by satellite, medical evaluation assistance, tele-conferencing, TV stations, live sporting events instead of delayed results, TVO or (OECA) to some schools for trial purposes , which proved to be successful.
After seeing how satellite improved peoples lifestyles, Canada moved into the Direct -To - Home - Satellite business.
Now you know how it came to pass that we can bitch about Star Choice, Bell XVU, Dishnetwork and Direct TV. :)
 
Thank you Clancy, that is definitely more information than I had. Now, to find someone who maybe worked on that system............or I guess I could get ahold of a former staff member from the school, they might remember something.

Yeah, it's funny how much more variety we have now for a fraction of the price yet we still complain about it.
Here's something I found that is interesting. It's a brochure from before Express-Vu started broadcasting............Note the limited channel selection and the approximate $1000 (low cost) price tag! hahaha
 

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The brochure shown was for western Canada only.
Their listings for eastern Canada omitted some of these and had Viewers Choice instead of Superchannel for the movies. Also, CFTO was offered in eastern Canada but not in the west.
CFTO in Toronto, today is the headquarters for the CTV network and head cheese for TSN sports.
 
I remember when Bell and StarChoice launched, they both uses Anik E2. Bell had more national transponders so they were able to offer more channel nation wide, while StarChoice had more regional transponders and thus channel selection was more limited.
 
I found out recently that TV Ontario was send microwave all the way from Toronto as far as Thunder Bay, covering many of the communities along the way. That seems like an aweful long way for them to send the signal by microwave considering the hilly terrain along the North shore of Lake Superior. That was completed in 1978. I have a hard time believing that building all those microwave relay sites (even in 1978) were cheaper than broadcasting by satellite. I know it wasn't mircowaved to our location (between Fort Frances and Atikokan for those who know the area).
 
During the time frame you are talking about, Bell Canada and other phone companies including the railways combined to send microwave signals on land towers some 5000 miles across Canada. The main line had various spurs going north and south from it.
I am not saying your community was served just that it was in place across Canada.
Satellite was to help serve all of Canada. This started to put short wave radio on the back burner.
You probably were a part of history in the beginning of home satellite delivery as we know it today. :hatsoff:
 
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