The start of the lengthy dash signifies precisely 1:00 PM in Eastern Standard Time.
For over 80 years, Canadians have been connected by the beeps and tones of the National Research Council (NRC) time signal precisely at 1 p.m. ET.
However, starting from Monday, listeners of CBC Radio One will no longer anticipate the start of the long dash — instead, they will have already heard its conclusion.
Variations of the daily message and the “pips” that sound along with it have played over CBC’s airwaves since Nov. 5, 1939 — forming a link that connects Canadians from coast to coast to coast.
CBC and Radio-Canada have announced they’ll no longer carry the National Research Council (NRC) time signal.
The longest running segment on CBC Radio came to an end on Monday when it was last aired.
The signal raised concerns regarding its accuracy.
CBC refused to participate in an interview and opted to solely offer written replies regarding inquiries regarding the alteration.
Spokesperson Emma Iannetta referred to the signal as a “fantastic collaboration,” however, she confirmed that it will no longer continue.
She wrote that the long dash experiences various delays as it is transmitted through different CBC platforms, including traditional over-the-air radio, satellite, and the internet. This raises concerns about its accuracy from the NRC.
According to Iannetta, the majority of individuals now rely on their phones to check the time, although there are still many CBC listeners who have an attachment to the signal.
“We share the nostalgia that many people have towards the daily time announcement but Canadians also depend on us for accurate information,” she wrote. “With all of the different distribution methods we use today we can no longer ensure that the time announcement can be accurate.”
The connection with the time signal means more than just liking it for many people.
It’s allowed sailors to set their instruments for navigation, kept railway companies running on time and helped Canadians stay punctual.
During a 2019 interview with Day 6, Laurence Wall, one of the current voices of the signal, discussed its origin and significance as it celebrated its 80th birthday.
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He remembers taxi drivers recognizing his voice from regular announcements and receiving a message from a young man in Hong Kong who would stay awake past midnight just to listen to the time signal as it brought him a sense of home.
In addition to emotional bonds, the signal also has a practical background.
Wall stated that in its early stages, timekeeping was relatively basic, requiring watches and clocks to be frequently adjusted in order to maintain accuracy.
A ‘bit of Canadiana’
The time signal served as a benchmark that ensured railways, shipping companies, and Canada maintained punctuality.
It remains precise — provided by cesium atomic clocks that are “the world’s best timekeepers,” according to the NRC.
NRC didn’t provide anyone for an interview but in a statement, spokesperson Orian Labrèche said CBC installed HD radio transmitters in 2018, which caused a delay of up to nine seconds in broadcasting the time signal.
The council offered various solutions and collaborated with CBC to address the delay. However, the decision to cease broadcasting the NRC’s official time signal was ultimately made by CBC/Radio-Canada, according to his statement.
Despite facing delays, the elongated hyphen still maintains its admirers.
An artist has been so inspired by it that they have created tea towels and tote bags as a tribute.
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Wall referred to the time signal as a “piece of Canadiana.”
In 2019, when questioned about potential worries regarding the signal’s future silence, Wall discussed the profound impact it has throughout the entire nation.
“I cannot predict the actions of the CBC, of course,” he stated. “However, I have a suspicion that it has become deeply rooted in Canadian society, and they would not be eager to make any swift alterations or, worse, eliminate it entirely.”