50 Years of CJOH-TV Ottawa in a nutshell

CJOH's Eye On Ottawa promo 1989

CJOH's Eye On Ottawa promo 1989

Following in the footsteps of CFTO and CFCF, now CJOH-TV is also celebrating 50 years of local TV. As a result, I thought it would be a good idea if I, once again, gave myself permission to republish an edited and updated version of the trivial facts of Channel 13 from my old TV Hat website (now defunct). The Ottawa television station began broadcasting, for the very first time, on March 12, 1961, at noon. The CTV Ottawa website has a special section dedicated to its 50-year history.


Before they became stars

A number of well-known people got their start at CJOH-TV including Peter Jennings and Alanis Morissette. Jennings was a local news anchor, although he actually made his TV debut as the host of the station’s teen show called Saturday Date in 1962. Alanis Morrisette’s first TV appearance was on a kids show called You Can’t Do That On Television where she was a regular. YCDTOT was syndicated to other Canadian channels, such as CFCF, and to the Nickelodeon cable channel in the States. YTV also picked up the show later on in reruns.

CJOH was also the former flagship centre for CTV’s national newscasts, the very first of which originated from the Ottawa studio in November 1962. Sunday Edition with Mike Duffy also originated from the Ottawa station where it was distributed to other Canadian channels (mostly Baton but CFCF as well). Later it became an official CTV show.

CJOH (CTV) Ottawa Night Court promo 1980s

CJOH (CTV) Ottawa Night Court promo 1980s

CJOH was for Montrealers too

Ottawa’s CJOH-TV is also Montreal’s alternate CTV station since it has almost always been carried on local cable in Montreal. Even today, while CJOH may no longer be available on analog cable, it’s still on the basic digital cable line-up.

Since the CTV Network schedule once consisted of only 40 hours of network programming, back in the ’80s, CJOH provided an almost completely different schedule than that of CFCF. CJOH was like an extra English channel in Montreal. But that is no longer the case, now that both stations are owned-and-operated by CTV Globemedia.

Because of CJOH, CTV Network programming has always been easily available in Montreal, even during CFCF’s anti-network phase while owned by WIC. When CJOH’s parent company, Baton Broadcasting, took control of the CTV Network, Montrealers had access to the entire newly expanded CTV schedule. Actually, most of that schedule consisted of Baton programming which automatically became rebranded as CTV, but nevertheless, CFCF was still limiting itself to about 45 hours of CTV programming per week.


CJOH now has four transmitters serving Eastern Ontario. The first repeater station came along in 1963 when the original owner, Ernie Bushnell, bought CJSS-TV channel 8 in Cornwall (a CBC station until that point) and changed the call letters to CJOH-TV-1.

Since then, the Cornwall station has pretty much always been a full rebroadcaster of CJOH (CTV), airing the exact same programming, local news and even commercials. But there was at least one exception to the rule back when CTV carried the Blue Jays. The games were often blacked out on channel 8 (but not on CJOH’s other channels), because of Cornwall’s close proximity to Montreal. Channel 8 was from where Montreal cable subscribers got the CJOH signal from (and perhaps still do). So on Wednesdays (baseball night on CTV) in the late ’80s, I often saw a substitute CJOH feed with commercial-free programming. Sometimes you wouldn’t even know exactly when the alternate programming would end because of the tendency for ball games to go into extra innings.

By the way, if you’re wondering how CFCF handled the blackouts, they simply didn’t bother to carry any of the Blue Jays games at all, as they preferred to devote their baseball coverage to the Expos.

CJSS-TV had been on the air since October 18, 1959.

CJOH started a second repeater September 27, 1972, on channel 6, to serve the Belleville-Kingston area. The CJOH-TV-3 transmitter is located near Deseronto on Mount Carmel.

The final repeater came about when Baton Broadcasting decided to transform CHRO in Pembroke, still a CTV-BBS station up until that point, into an independent station to be sold to CHUM. CHRO was given permission to open a rebroadcaster in Ottawa on channel 43 and, in exchange, CJOH was also allowed to set up a repeater station in Pembroke, on channel 47, so that town would still have an over-the-air CTV service.

The meaning of call letters

The OH in CJOH is for Ottawa Hull.



Filed under Montreal, Ottawa, TV

7 responses to “50 Years of CJOH-TV Ottawa in a nutshell

  1. Pingback: CTV, what’s your age again? | Brave New TV

  2. Ah, the memories… CJOH used to play the old Spiderman (1967) cartoon at 11am, which I watched religiously…

    I always found the “CJ” of the logo resembled a lowercase “g”…

  3. Saffy

    CJOH used to have a sister station in Cornwall, CJSS (ss=sister station).
    Long since gone, but some people in the west island were able to pick it up.
    However Videotron doesn’t carry CJOH anymore!

  4. David O'Keefe

    It is a shame you don’t have a phone number. You have been saying, in the weather report about the “rain” in Ottawa. You made it appear as thought here was rain all over and I wanted to contact you to tell you it sure isn’t raining in Kanata. We had a spalsh around 5ish and that’s all.

  5. Ernie MacMillan

    Do you remember a show called Dance Party , where High Schools were invited to dance to records and it was hosted by someone called Dick, can,t remember his last name.

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