Author Topic: Happy 100th birthday to CP  (Read 124 times)

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Offline Warren Toda

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Happy 100th birthday to CP
« on: September 02, 2017, 07:34 PM »
The Canadian Press celebrated its 100th birthday today. Although to get technical, Canadian Press Limited was formed in 1910. But CP Ltd. wasn't quite the CP we know today.

"Making National News - A History of Canadian Press" by Gene Allen (2013, University of Toronto Press) recounts the history, starting in the mid-1800s, that led to the formation of CP.

A very brief recap:

1850 - 1916: stuff happened.

1917: Prime Minister Robert Borden, (he's the guy on the $100 bill which means you have no idea what he looks like), saw the importance of having a national news organization (a co-op of 117 member newspapers) transmitting and sharing Canadian news. This was especially important during World War I when the federal government needed all the positive propaganda it could get. Before this, foreign news came from either the Associated Press which had too much of a US bias or from Reuters which had a British bias.

Borden decided to subsidize Canadian Press Limited after it reorganized to include CP Limited, Western Associated Press and Canadian Associated Press. Before this, these three wire networks were unofficially and loosely connected. Keep in mind that at this time, some other countries were already subsidizing their own national news services.

Weeks later, Borden introduced personal income tax.

Hmm . . . fund Canadian Press and then create income tax. A coincidence?  ;D

Sadly, CP's 100th birthday wasn't even worth a postage stamp.

Fun facts: In the latter half of the 1800s, there were three main wire services, all based in Europe, one of which was Reuters. These three divvied-up the world amongst themselves. Each wire service got exclusive news rights to certain countries and they shared their news with each other.

Reuters licensed its Canadian news rights to Associated Press (originally called New York Associated Press). AP then sub-licensed these rights to Canadian Pacific Railway's (CPR) telegraph department (yes, the railway). CPR had its own national telegraph network that AP needed since Western Union refused to let AP use its network. AP could send news through CPR and down into western USA.

CPR and AP later had a falling out. CPR's telegraph network wasn't that good nor was it focussed on transmitting news. CPR wasn't happy with what AP was paying.

Canadian newspapers started to buy or lease their own telegraph networks and AP let Canadian newspapers take control of news coverage in Canada. But Canada's major news telegraph network (Canadian Press Ltd.) remained connected to AP in New York. This network was London(Ont.)-Toronto-Ottawa-Montreal-New York. By 1910, most other Canadian papers were connected to this network through their own leased telegraph lines.

So, if CP Limited didn't stay connected to AP, if CP Railway was more tech-savvy, if AP didn't leave Canada and if Reuters didn't sub-licence to AP, where would we be today?  ;D

« Last Edit: September 02, 2017, 08:21 PM by Warren Toda »

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