CTV Ottawa History
Published Monday, June 4, 2012 1:28PM EDT
Last Updated Friday, October 21, 2016 11:51AM EDT
CTV Ottawa is the News and Entertainment Programming Leader in eastern Ontario and western Quebec, with a weekly reach of more than one million viewers. Locally, CTV News has won regional and national awards for broadcasting excellence as well as for its tireless work in the community. The station recently celebrated its 50th anniversary of broadcasting.
CTV Ottawa's call letters are CJOH and is owned and operated by Bell Media Inc. It provides outstanding news and entertainment programming to eastern Ontario and west Quebec. The station went on the air for the first time March 12, 1961. At the time our studios were temporarily housed in a warehouse on Bayswater Ave. at Somerset St. Five months later we moved to 1500 Merivale Road.
A devastating February 7, 2010 fire at CTV Ottawa's Merivale Road building saw the station relocate to its current location at 87 George Street in Ottawa's historic By Ward Market area, and broadcasts from the same location as CTV2 and radio stations CFRA, Ottawa’s New Country 94, MAJIC 100 and TSN1200.
On March 12, 1961 at 12 noon, a significant moment in Canadian broadcast history took place when CJOH TV began broadcasting on Channel 13. Until then, television owners in the Ottawa area and West Quebec had two choices - CBC's English or French language service. As a founding member of the CTV Network, CJOH gave this region an alternative.
In those early days, all programming was live and originated from the temporary basement studios located next to the D. Kemp Edwards Lumber Yards at Bayswater and Somerset. Temporary, because construction on their state-of-the-art facility on Merivale Road, in what was then nearly rural Nepean was well underway. The E. L. Bushnell Television Company, headed by former long-time CBC senior executive Ernest L. Bushnell, owned CJOH. "Bush", as he was known, was indeed the proud "father" of CJOH when the studios and office complex at 1500 Merivale Road officially opened on October 21, 1961.
News has always been a strong part of the fabric of CJOH. The earliest days featured a two-man anchor desk with Charles Lynch and Peter Stursberg, and later included Peter Jennings, who had been a radio announcer at a Brockville radio station.
Peter Jennings joined CJOH in 1962 and began, not in the newsroom, but as host of "Saturday Date", a dance show for teens. After eventually "cutting his teeth" in the CJOH newsroom, Jennings went on to a successful career as foreign correspondent for ABC and as anchor of the ABC nightly news out of New York City. He passed away in August, 2005 after losing his battle with lung cancer.
In November of 1962, CJOH produced the first CTV National News program hosted by Baden Langdon and Ab Douglas. Subsequently the two-anchor system saw Harvey Kirck located in Toronto and Ab Douglas here in Ottawa.
While CJOH offered a broad range of popular American shows, the viewing public in Ottawa was hungry for local content as well. Besides, quality newscasts, the station produced programs aimed at viewers of all ages.
"Platform" featured political interviews and debate. "Dear Charlotte," hosted by Bill Luxton gave the feisty Mayor of Ottawa - Charlotte Whitton - a unique platform. Each weekday morning, the host of "Dear Jackie" offered the latest cooking and lifestyles ideas. On the weekends, the CJOH studios were invaded by scores of teens who danced the afternoons away on "Saturday Date". Bill Luxton and Les Lye appeared as "Willy and Floyd" in a children's program that was a mix of off-the-wall humour, music and amateur talent. And "Uncle Chichimus" and "Miss Helen" captivated the younger children. When impressionist Rich Little first did Jack Benny, John Wayne and Ed Sullivan for television, it was in front of CJOH cameras.
In 1967 CJOH made the switch from black and white to colour and added a colour-capable mobile production unit, which was the first of its kind in Canada.
CJOH built upon those early years of television pioneering and began producing a wide variety of programming for local consumption as well as syndication. Through the 70's, 80's and 90's programs like "Family Brown Country", "Joys of Collecting", "Denim Blues", "Marie Soleil", "Sunday Edition", "In Our Hands", "Sports Flash Back", "Bang Bang You're Alive" and the very popular "Home Grown Café were produced.
Due to the quality of its facilities and highly skilled crews, CJOH-TV gained a reputation as a television production house, creating programs for other broadcasters as well. "The Galloping Gourmet", "The Amazing Kreskin" and "You Can't Do That On Television" are just a few of the programs that were produced at CJOH and enjoyed by millions of viewers around the world. It was on "You Can't DO That On Television" that Alanis Morissette made her first television appearance.
CJOH has always been a proud supporter of the community and their facilities have been used for more than delivering news and entertainment. The Kiwanis TV Auctions and telethons for the Ottawa Little Theatre, Civic Hospital, the Ottawa Heart Institute and the Children's Hospital of Eastern Ontario have helped raise tens of millions of dollars.
Television has experienced enormous change over these past forty seven years. From simple black and white live programs, through the change to colour, to home video tape recording, to the almost limitless choice of programs available on cable and satellite. CJOH has seen it all and is proud to have played such an important role in the life of Canada's Capital region. As "Ottawa's Television Station" for more than forty years we eagerly look forward to the next forty as the CTV Network's affiliate in Canada's Capital: CTV Ottawa.