Friday, 29 July 2016

Catholics in the Golden Age of Radio

In today's world, we are very used to instant communication. The Internet makes it possible for us to learn about events almost as they are happening. Twitter keeps us in the loop about what's happening on the ground, and we can even stream live video to Facebook with our cell phones for all of our friends to see.

100 years ago, it was very different. Sure, we had telephones and telegraphs, but there wasn't really a way to get a message to many people at the same time until the early 1920s, when the first radio stations began operating and radio sets became common household fixtures. The Golden Age of Radio had begun.

The Catholic hierarchy were quick to adopt the technology as a way to reach their flock. Personalities such as Archbishop Fulton Sheen and Father Charles Coughlin became household names with audiences of millions of listeners.

Here in the archives, we have many documents from the early days of radio. A few are highlighted below:

In 1929, a report was issued by the Royal Commission on Radio Broadcasting (known as the Aird Commission) that recommended the creation of a national broadcast system. A lobby group called the Canadian Radio League was formed to pressure the Canadian government into implementing the Aird report. In the Archbishop McNeil fonds, we found the map below, which was created by the Canadian Radio League and shows radio coverage in Canada in the early 1930s. The map shows that the Archdiocese of Toronto was well covered early on:

"Map I. Shows the range of existing Canadian broadcasting stations. The circles represent the assured normal daylight range. It will be noticed how the larger stations are near the centres of population, where the best advertising market is found, and how whole areas of Canada are outside the range of Canadian stations. The list of stations and their power is further evidence of these conditions. It is also true that where there are the most Canadian stations there are the most licensed listeners"

MN AP02.201
Archbishop McNeil Fonds

Alan B. Plaunt of the Canadian Radio League wrote to Archbishop McNeil to ask for his support for a national radio system. The letter shows that from the beginning, the public broadcaster was intended to be politically neutral:

"Firstly, it is one of the cardinal propositions of the League that the proposed national company should be free from political and other interference. This has been achieved by the British Broadcasting Corporation in England and we believe that it can be achieved here. It is true that the Aird Commission is not sufficiently specific on how this is to be done. The Radio League is now, through one of its committees, investigating the question of how the national company can be placed outside of party politics. The view of the committee at present is that this could, possibly, best be done by making the directorate of the company responsible to a Committee of the Privy Council, that is, to more than one minister. This is the method by which the National Research Council functions."

December 29, 1930
MN TA01.88
Archbishop McNeil Fonds

Archbishop McNeil was quick to use radio to address Toronto Catholics. Both he and Cardinal McGuigan regularly spoke on the air about a variety of topics. The letter below from Frank P. O'Connor (Founder of Laura Secord candy store, senator, and Catholic Philanthropist) praises McNeil for one of his broadcasts:

"Your Excellency: No doubt you have heard from a great many of your unseen audience of Sunday evening last. I just want to add my congratulations and tell you how good it was to hear you over the air and how much I enjoyed our broadcast which I think was one of the finest I have ever heard."

June 6, 1933
MN AH22.54
Archbishop McNeil Fonds

Any time someone speaks in public, someone else will disagree. Sometimes that person will complain. Below is a letter to Archbishop McGuigan regarding Father Charles Coughlin, who had by that time become a controversial figure because of his antisemitic, pro-fascism views:

"You will pardon this suggestion, which is made in the best interests of Catholics generally, but especially Canadians.

"I listened with a degree of utmost pleasure to your splendid Saturday night address, the nicest part of it being that yesterday in contact with a number of gentlemen of other faiths than our own, it was a subject of discussion and most favorable comment.

"Approaching the thought underlying my first paragraph, the Rev. Father Coughlin harangued the multitude on Sunday afternoon in one of the most castigating radio talks emanating from a Christian to which I have listened.

"Monday morning several of our Catholic staff approached me to the effect that they had turned it on for a little while and immediately turned it off.

"Is there not something that can be done to eliminate this broadcast from Canada, if it is not possible in the U.S.? I think a copy of the broadcast should be sent to the Prime Minister. It simply arouses feelings of murder in the hearts of listeners. If he would only confine himself to religious doctrine.

"I feel confident that you know how to eliminate this objectionable hour, also I believe that his pamphlets which are passed out at some of the Churches here might well be discarded in these trying times. He is a menace and a black-eye to the Catholic Church.

September 12, 1939
SW GC01.14a
Cardinal McGuigan Fonds

As time went on, more and more religious programming was heard on the air. The pamphlet below from the 1950s details the schedule of religious programs on CBC Radio:

CBC Religious Program Schedule

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Bishop Allen Fonds

In 1933, Archbishop McNeil inaugurated the Radio League of St. Michael. The League sponsored such programs as The Catholic Hour, which consisted of Sunday mass from the Cathedral followed by news and talk. Leadership of the League eventually transferred to the Paulist Fathers, under whom it eventually became the Catholic Information Centre. The form letter below details a "radio school" for priests that the League offered:

"A year ago this fall, we began a brief "radio school" for priests. Apart from studying the technical matters involved in broadcasting, we hope to develop a growing interest in radio and television as modern methods of communication. The commercial world is well aware of this medium. The Protestant Churches have regular schools across Canada in which every aspect of radio and television is studied. As Catholics, we have been invited to attend these schools. Many of the ministers have put the suggestion to their organizing committee to invite the Catholic Church to send representatives. There is no question about the importance or radio and television as a method of communications today.

"As a year ago, the school this fall will be held on three consecutive weeks, Tuesday evenings at 8 o'clock. This year we will add work on television. Fortunately we have the professional assistance of the CBC. The enclosed program outlines the schedule. Kindly return to us the enclosed registration form, if you can find your way clear to attend the Workshop."

July 6, 1960
MG SU03.88a
Cardinal McGuigan Fonds

In his 1957 encyclical letter Miranda Prorsus: On Motion Pictures, Radio and Television, Pope Pius XII explains, 

"...We rightly think that the most excellent function which falls to radio is this: to enlighten and instruct men, and to direct their minds and hearts towards higher and spiritual things. 

"But there is in men, though they may be within their own homes, a deep desire to listen to other men, to obtain knowledge of events happening far away and to share in aspects of the social and cultural life of others. 

"Hence it is not remarkable that a very large number of houses have within a short period of time been equipped with receiving sets by which, as it were secret windows opening on to the world, contact is made night and day with the active life of men of different civilization, languages and races." 

This pope knew how important Radio had become in the lives of people everywhere. He encouraged Catholic programs and stations, and challenged the faithful to only listen to programming which directed their minds to God.

Radio is still an important part of the lives of many, but Catholics have carried on the tradition of being on the cutting edge of communication. They are still involved with media such as Radio and Television, but are using social media more and more. The Archdiocese of Toronto is on Facebook, Twitter, and Youtube. There is also a blog called Around the Arch, and you can listen to podcasts. Even Pope Francis is on Twitter! Our Catholic leaders know that to reach the people, they have to go to where the people are.

For more information about the early days of Catholics on the radio in Canada, read Dr. Mark McGowan's excellent paper, Air Wars: Radio Regulation, Sectarianism and Religious Broadcasting in Canada, 1922-1938 in Historical Papers: Canadian Society of Church History, 2008.

Friday, 22 July 2016

Love, Mom: Letters from Mary Power to Her Son, 1822-1824

Mary Power, mother of the first Bishop of Toronto, had eight children who survived childhood; yet it was clear that Michael, her eldest son, whom she called Mick, was always number one in her eyes. When Michael was sent from Halifax to the minor seminary in Montreal in 1816, a few months before he turned twelve, it was a difficult transition for Mary. She missed him very much and expected a lot from him, but she was also very proud of him for fulfilling such an important role.

Photograph of an original painting of Bishop Michael Power


The Archives has seven letters from Mary to Mick, written between 1822 and 1824 while Michael was at school. Sometimes Mary would send letters or packages with a family friend who was travelling to Montreal because she did not have enough money for postage; regardless of delivery method, she made sure to write to keep him up to date. The letters provide interesting insight into Bishop Power's early life and family.

Addresses on letters for Michael Power

P AA04.01 (left) and P AA04.07

Even before he was born, Michael’s life course had been decided by his mother. She was a pious woman and sometimes used her letters as an opportunity to remind Mick of her promise to God.

Excerpt from letter dated July 20, 1824

I promised you to God before you were born[.] I made a vow if it would please God to bless me with a son that I would offer him up unto his Blessed will[.] It seemes [sic] that the Allmighty [sic] demands it now. Glory be to his holy Name for ever and ever Amen.

P AA04.07

The same year that Michael left for school, his mother had a baby and had another two years later. Being young and so far from home, it’s no wonder Michael was a bit unsure as to the exact make-up of his family.

Excerpt from letter dated September 24, 1823

You wishe [sic] to know how many sisters you have[.] You have 4[:] Margret[,] Maryann[,] Elizabeth and Frances[.] She is 4 years and a half old[.] She often asks who there [sic] Brother is and if she shall see you ever[.]

P AA04.04

All Mary hoped was that the family would see her dear Mick again before they died.

Excerpt from letter dated May 27, 1822

My Dear may the Almighty God send us a happy and pleasing sight of you before our death[.] it shall be the [constant] [illegible] of your tender parents William and Mary Power.
P AA04.01

Unfortunately, Michael did not return to Halifax until 1840, when he was 36. By that time, he was the only male left in his family; in fact, he had been so since before his ordination in August 1827. Sadly, after leaving Halifax the first time, he never saw his father or brothers again. In 1822, at just 16, Bishop Power’s brother James died of a lung inflammation. Shortly after retiring in 1824, his father died, followed by his brother John soon after. His brother William, who was a sailor like his father, died in July 1827. His mother wrote to Michael to tell him the news of James’s death in this heart-breaking letter.

Letter dated July 16, 1822

My Dear Child
I recei'd your letter by Capt. [McHeron][.] It gave me great pleasure to hear that you enjoy good health[.] My Dear I mentioned to you in my last letter that your brother was dangerously ill & I cannot hold the pen.
He departed this world on the 6 of June[.] His disorder was a [sic] inflammation on the lungs[.] A fine good natured boy as ever lived[.] He bore his disorder for 23 days with the fortitude of a [sic] old man ... He continually talked of Mr. Mignault and requested to remember him in prayers[.] ... I will write more to you the next opportunity. My Dear I am your affectionate mother
Mary Power
Do not fret for James for he is happy out of this world.

P AA04.02

Mary always worried about her son's well-being; however, after suffering a number of losses over the years, it is understandable that her level of concern may have increased. This letter, written 192 years ago this week, chastises Mick for his lack of communication.

Letter dated July 20, 1824

P AA04.07
Excerpt from letter dated July 20, 1824

My Dear and Beloved Son
This is the 3 letter I have wrote to you but recd no answer[.] It makes me uneasy[.] I wrote by post and I wrote by [Cleary] and John wrote at the same time[.] Your last letter was dated in February[.] What is the maining [sic] of such a long silence My Dear Son.

P AA04.07

These letters are a wonderful reminder that though the frequency and style of communication was different almost 200 years ago, a mother’s love remains very much the same. P.S. Call your mom.

Friday, 15 July 2016

The Pope's Tailor

This week in the news we learned that Ditta Annibale Gammarelli, the official tailor of the Pope, is being passed to the sixth generation of the Gammarelli family. You may remember reading about the shop before the last conclave, when they were called upon to make new white cassocks in three sizes to accommodate whomever was elected.

The firm has been making garments for the Pope and other members of the hierarchy since 1798. Each piece is made with the finest material with great detail and care.

Here in the archives, we have a few relevant items:

A 1926 invoice from Annibale Gammarelli, "Tailor of Pius XI, Merchant Tailor to Ecclesiastics."

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Archbishop McNeil Fonds

We also have a few examples of Gammarelli's work, all of which were worn by Cardinal Carter:

Cardinal's Mozzetta (short cape); red silk with red piping.

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ARCAT Special Collections

Cardinal's simar; black silk with red buttons and piping. Complete with pockets, the existence of which makes any garment instantly better.

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ARCAT Special Collections  

Cardinal's socks. You can buy your very own pair from!

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ARCAT Special Collections

The quality of the items in the collection makes it easy to see why Gammarelli has maintained its official position. We wish the future Gammarellis the best of luck in the business of dressing the Pope!

Friday, 8 July 2016

Merit of the Highest Degree: Cardinal Carter Receives the Order of Canada

This month marks the anniversary of the first induction to the Order of Canada. Governor General Roland Michener was the first inductee on July 1, 1967, and 90 more were appointed on July 6 that year.

The Order of Canada is currently made up of three grades: Companion, Officer, and Member, in order of precedence. New members are generally appointed two times per year. Individuals are awarded the Order for outstanding achievement, dedication to the community, and service to Canada.

A maximum of 15 people annually are appointed Companions. Specifically, this highest level of the Order recognizes national pre-eminence or international service or achievement. In December 1982, Cardinal Carter was one of three appointed that month and one of only six that year to receive the honour. To date, he is the only Archbishop of the Archdiocese of Toronto to receive an Order of Canada. His investiture was on April 20, 1983.

Cardinal Carter receives the Order of Canada from Governor General Edward R. Schreyer, April 20, 1983


Cardinal Carter wearing his Companion of the Order of Canada insignia


Recipients of the Order of Canada are given a certificate of their appointment:

The Chancellor and Principal Companion of the Order of Canada
His Eminence Gerald Emmett Cardinal Carter
Whereas, with the approval of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth the Second, Sovereign of the Order of Canada, We have been pleased to appoint you to be a Companion of the Order of Canada
We do by these Presents appoint you to be a Companion of the said Order and authorize you to hold and enjoy the dignity of such appointment together with membership in the said Order and all privileges thereunto appertaining
Given at Rideau Hall in the City of Ottawa under the Seal of the Order of Canada this twentieth day of December, 1982.
By the Chancellor’s Command,
[signed by Edward R. Schreyer, Governor General of Canada, and Esmond Butler, Secretary General of the Order of Canada]

CA AA10.35
Cardinal Carter Fonds 

At the investiture, the recipient is presented with the insignia corresponding to the grade of Order awarded. The design of the Order is a white six-pointed snowflake with a stylized red maple leaf at the centre that is encircled by the motto of the Order. The motto, DESIDERANTES MELIOREM PATRIAM, means “They desire a better country,” a phrase taken from Letter to the Hebrews 11:16. 

Companion of the Order of Canada insignia in its box.
The outside top of the box has C.C. imprinted on it. A person with this designation may use the post-nominals CC.

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ARCAT Special Collections

Close-up of the insignia and part of the ribbon. Isn't it a beauty?!

AF 319
ARCAT Special Collections

Cardinal Carter was also a Knight of Malta and a Knight of the Holy Sepulchre. The pin below is made up of four different lapel pins mounted on a board. The lapel pin on the far left is for the Companion of the Order of Canada. The two in the middle are for the Knights of Malta: the Bailiff Knight Grand Cross of Honour and Devotion (left) and the Grand Cross “pro piis meritis” pro Merito Melitensi. The lapel pin on the far right is for the Knights of the Holy Sepulchre.

AF 367
ARCAT Special Collections

We always knew that Cardinal Carter was an important part of the Archdiocese of Toronto, but this honour shows that his influence and dedication were felt nationwide.

Friday, 1 July 2016

Happy Canada Day!

Happy Canada Day! Today we celebrate the day in 1867 when the Province of Canada (Ontario and Quebec), New Brunswick, and Nova Scotia joined in confederation as The Dominion of Canada.

Getting to that point took a lot of careful negotiation over many years. Proponents of confederation wanted to gather as much support as they could. To that end, Sir John A. MacDonald wrote to Bishop Lynch detailing the benefits of confederation to Catholics:

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Archbishop Lynch Fonds

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Archbishop Lynch Fonds


Quebec Dec 19/64

My dear Lord

Many thanks for your kind note of the 13th inst. I am exceedingly glad to find that you lean towards Federation.

I have, as you may suppose given very considerable attention to the subject and I can assure you that I see no other means of escape from the deadlock which had arisen between Upper and Lower Canada.

By the proposed arrangement all vested rights and institutions will be protected and the Catholics will have what they never had before, the Security of an Imperial act for the preservation of their religious and educational institutions. The Upper Canadian Catholics will not be at the mercy of George Brown. Their rights as I have said are to be guaranteed in the Imperial act of union. Besides this in case the local legislation should at any time act unjustly to them, they can appeal to the general Government for protection.

That General Govt. will be to a large extent composed of men from Lower Canada, a Catholic Country, and from Newfoundland and Prince Edward - both almost Catholic countries - so that they are fully protected.

The more the subject is discussed the more it will grow in public favour. It will give us renewed confidence in our work when we know we have the support and countenance of The Catholic Hierarchy.

Believe me my dear Lord Yours sincerely and respectfully

J A Macdonald

Sir John A's side was successful, and he became the first Prime Minister of Canada. Manitoba and the Northwest Territories joined in 1870, British Columbia in 1871, Prince Edward Island in 1873, Yukon in 1898, Saskatchewan and Alberta in 1905, Newfoundland in 1949, and Nunavut in 1999. Certainly worth celebrating!