Tuesday, July 7, 2015
It was early 1954 in Saint John, New Brunswick - Nine thousand people showed up at the Admiral Beatty Hotel at King's Square on Saturday, March 11th, to catch the first glimpse of the programs that would be shown when CHSJ-TV went on the air March 24th. Today, this grand Hotel, which housed Kings, Queens, Prince and Princesses, dignitaries and rich folk; now houses Senior Citizens and the view from these apartments - just amazing. My Mum was on the 5th floor, corner apartment. What a lovely apartment it was indeed with a most extended view of the city on both sides accompanied with a view of the harbour.
In co-operation with the Admiral Television Corporation, forty televisions were set up in the Georgian Ballroom of the City's leading Hotel. Long before the official start of broadcast time at 2:00 p.m., a long line of curious citizens extended over a block from the hotel doors. Once the shows started, the crowds moved speedily through the ballroom and passed by the TV's for a look at the first television broadcast in the Maritimes.
The quality of the picture and the sound drew many comments, and no doubt led to more than a few sales for Admiral Television.
Local merchants were present too, and were advertising sets available from $239 to $529 - quite out of range of many of the curious viewers who would be making $5 - $10 a day. The feature shows included: Hopalong Cassidy, CBC Concert Hour, Holiday Ranch, Newsreels and Cartoons.
The first people on our street to buy a TV were "The McNeil" family. On Saturday afternoon, Walt Disney was on and all the neighbourhood kids would be found sitting in AWE in Mrs McNeil's "front" room; some sitting on the "chesterfield" and available chairs, others on the floor - watching TV. Imagine, having the Walt Disney Characters and stories come alive in your "front room", eh. My Mum eventually bought a TV and I remember the day Dad came home excitedly from work, carrying what looked like a X-Ray Envelope. He exclaimed we would now have colour TV - opened the envelope and took out a very slim piece of "plastic", with 4 colours - a vertical strip of orange, blue, yellow, red and; which you could see through. There was a hole in each corner, that could be fastened to the front of your TV to hold it on and I remember watching Dale Evans and Roy Rogers riding off into the vertical sunset. ha,ha