Saturday, 15 November 2008


Ahhh, yes. It could only be one thing - the National Research Council Official Time Signal !

While doing research for my history blog I noticed that this is the 69th year that the CBC has broadcast the signal. It was November 1939 that the then-called Dominion Observatory Official Time Signal signed on, accompanied by the official segue way:

"Now for the National Research Council official time signal: the beginning of the long dash following ten seconds of silence indicates 12 noon central standard time."

Canada's first talking clock c 1930's

NRC's largest atomic clock c 2000's
A couple of trivia bits:

- the signal is broadcast just once across the network - at 1 pm EST so each zone hears it indicate a different hour.

- in 1958 Canada was the first country to use the a cesium atom clock top keep official time. Within a decade it was the world standard.

If you just can't wait until the long dash followed by ten seconds of silence you can get the signal on demand by phone (613) 745-3900, short wave radio and on the 'net (though it doesn't seem to work on my computer so I don't know if you get the beeps or not).

In a year where the nation followed the soap opera-like drama of the Hockey Night in Canada theme and it's near death experience from the Canadian airwaves, this other iconic ear candy continues on, and on and on.

So sit back, click here and beep along !


KM said...

I'm impressed that their shortwave service remains on the air in an era when many national governments now view shortwave as having been rendered obsolete by the Internet. Perhaps it's still needed to reach remote areas of Canada?

mrchristian said...

That's likely true. Bush camps, even some cottage areas would likely still use shortwave.

Anonymous said...

I've used WWV from Fort Collins, CO for decades to set my clocks. The signal for Canada's clock has been less reliable.