While we doubt that the RCMP ever actually approved this Drewry's advert, the image does represent the stereotypical romantic image of the Canadian Mountie (minus of course the beer-swilling)
On October 1st 1943 the previous CJRC, Winnipeg became CKRC.
The Queen's Men first aired over CKRC, Winnipeg
Canadian biscuit and food giant George Weston, Ltd. sponsored the CKRC run of The Queen's Men
The CBC Network as of 1942:
Calgary -- CFAC, CFCN and CJCJ
Edmonton -- CFRN, CJCA and CKUA
Grand Prarie -- CFGP
Lethbridge -- CJOC
Medicine Hat -- CJMH
- BRITISH COLUMBIA:
Chilliwack -- CHWK
Kamloops -- CHJC
Kelowna -- CKOV
Nelson -- CKLN
Prince Rupert -- CFPR
Trail -- CJAT
Vancouver -- CBR, CJOR, CKMO, and CKWX
Victoria -- CJVI
Brandon -- CKX
Flin Flon -- CFAR
Winnipeg -- CJGX, CJRC, and CKY
- NEW BRUNSWICK:
Campbellton -- CKNB
Fredericton -- CFNB
Moncton -- CKCW
Sackville -- CBA
St. John -- CHSJ
- NOVA SCOTIA:
Antigonish -- CJFX
Halifax -- CHNS
Sydney -- CJCB
Yarmouth -- CJLS
Brantford -- CKPC
Brockville -- CFLC
Chatham -- CFCO
Fort William -- CKPR
Hamilton -- CHML and CKOC
Kenora -- CKCA
Kingston -- CFRC and CKWS
Kirkland Lake -- CJKL
Kitchener -- CKCR
London -- CFPL
North Bay -- CFCH
Ottawa -- CBO and CKCO
Owen Sound -- CFOS
Parry Sound -- CHPS
Pembroke -- CHEX
Sault Ste. Marie -- CJIC
St. Catherines -- CKTB
Stratford -- CJCS
Sudbury -- CKSO
Timmins -- CKGB
Toronto -- CBL, CBY, CFRB and CKCL
Windsor -- CKLW
Wingham -- CKNX
- PRINCE EDWARD ISLAND:
Charlottetown -- CFCY
Summerside -- CHGS
Amos -- CHAD
Chicoutimi -- CBJ
Hull -- CKCH
Montreal -- CBF, CBM, CFCF, CHLP, and CKAC
New Carlisle -- CHNC
Quebec City -- CBV, CHRC, and CKCV
Rimouski -- CJBR
Rouyn -- CKRN
Sherbrooke -- CHLT
Ste. Anne de la Pocatiere -- CHGB
Three Rivers -- CHLN
Val D'or -- CKVD
Moose Jaw -- CHAB
Prince Albert -- CKBI
Regina -- CJRM and CKCK
Saskatoon -- CFQC
Watrous -- CBK
Yorkton -- CJCX
Brilliant Toronto character actor Lou Jacobi (1913-2009) appeared as salesman Brown in The James Halliday Hit and Run Case of The Queen's Men
Distinguished Stage, Film, and Television actor Arthur Hill (1922-2006) appeared as RCMP Sgt. Barnett in the humorous J. P. Hawkins v. Horseface the Pirate episode of The Queen's Men and at least two other episodes. Hill reportedly worked his way through college by performing in CBC Radio productions of the era.
Multi-talented John Adaskin wrote and adapted the scripts for The Queen's Men.
Adventure anthologies over Radio were a highly popular staple thoughout Radio's Golden Age. They were also highly profitable for their various sponsors, as exemplified by the longer running exemplars of the canon. Though most were targeted to juvenile audiences, given the child in every adult most of the juvenile adventure series' of the era also found a significant adult audience as well. This was clearly by design, given the fact that the adults of the era invariably controlled the family purse strings.
But as Radio evolved, so did adventure dramas--toward a more universal audience. Some of the more popular examples from the era follow:
1930 World Adventures
1931 Strange Adventure
1932 Bring'em Back Alive
1932 Captain Diamond’s Adventures
1932 Captain Jack
1932 The Elgin Adventurer's Club
1932 With Canada's Mounted
1932 World Adventurer's Club
1933 MacLean of the Northwest Mounted
1933 The Stamp Adventurer’s Club
1935 The Desert Kid
1936 Renfrew of The Mounted
1937 The Cruise of The Poll Parrot
1937 True Adventures
1937 Your Adventurers
1938 Challenge of the Yukon
1939 Imperial Intrigue
1939 The Order of Adventurers
1940 Thrills and Romance
1941 Adventure Stories
1942 Road to Danger
1942 The Whistler
1943 Escape From . . .
1943 Foreign Assignment
1943 King of The Royal Mounted
1943 Men In Scarlet [CBC]
1944 Adventure Ahead
1944 Dangerously Yours
1944 Stories of Escape
1944 The Man Called 'X'
1944 Vicks Matinee Theater
1946 Tales of Adventure
1947 Adventure Parade
1947 High Adventure
1947 The Adventurer's Club
1947 The Voyage of the Scarlet Queen
1948 This Is Adventure
1949 Dangerous Assignment
1950 Stand By for Adventure
1951 Sergeant Preston of the Yukon
1951 The Silver Eagle
1952 Escape with Me
1953 The Adventurer
1954 The Quiet Force [CBC]
1954 The Queen's Men [CBC]
1974 CBS Radio Mystery Theater
1977 General Mills Radio Adventure Theater
1977 CBS Radio Adventure Theater
In scanning the representative list above you may have noted several Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP)--or Northwest Mounted--themed programs; from the above list alone, we count at least eight overwhelmingly mountie-themed programs:
- 1932 With Canada's Mounted
- 1936 Renfrew of The Mounted
- 1937 MacLean of the Northwest
- 1938 Challenge of the Yukon
- 1943 King of The Royal Mounted
- 1951 Sergeant Preston of the Yukon
- 1951 The Silver Eagle
- 1954 The Queen's Men
It's entirely understandable why Canadian Mounties captured the imagination of adventure lovers during the Golden Age of Radio--and beyond. Throughout the 19th and early 20th centuries Canada's Northwest Mounted Police were considered the 'rugged individualists' of the law enforcement fraternity throughout the world. Often working alone or in pairs covering areas of thousands of square miles of the Canadian Northwest Frontier, Canada's mounted officers and constables demanded a unique combination of resourcefulness, reliability, the highest integrity, and remarkable fitness--both mental and physical.
Answering calls of injury, childbirth, crime, public safety, and Northwest commerce in the remotest, most isolated territories of Canada, mounties were law enforcement's most versatile uniformed public safety officers. Mounties and their fabled way of life were popular subjects of the earliest silent films and talkies, popular serial films, Radio programs, and Print features through the mid-20th Century. And what wasn't there to admire?
Sporting their signature Stetson campaign hats, red serge tunics, gold-striped blue--or khaki--jodhpurs, 'Sam Browne' belt, and white sidearm lanyard around their necks, the mounties of the late 19th and early 20th centuries were a romantic sight to behold. But they weren't just a romantic image. Mounties' reputations for 'always getting their man' more often than not proved to be a well-supported adage throughout Canadian history.
The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation's expanding network
The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) inaugurated its operations on November 2nd 1936 as the result of Canada's two initial Broadcasting Acts by order of Parliament: The Canadian Radio Broadcasting Act of May 1932 and The Canadian Broadcasting Act of June 1936. The nationalization of Canada's growing Radio resources followed the model of the British Broadcasting Company, Limited (BBC) of Great Britain--sans the proscription against commercial messaging.
Canada's two initial Broadcasting Acts empowered the Canadian Radio Broadcasting Commission (CRBC) to acquire existing commercial stations and expand existing CRBC stations by some 200%. It also empowered the CRBC to create and expand their network of stations across Canada's Provinces to better serve the growing needs of Canadian Radio audiences.
By 1939 the CBC had expanded its Basic Network to a conglomeration of 34 commercial and government-owned stations across Canada. By that same period the CBC had begun extensively employing independently transcribed programming throughout its broadcasting schedules. By 1943 CBC programmes were available to 93.7% of Canadian homes. The makeup of the CBC's growing network by 1942 is depicted in the sidebar (left).
While it seems like a long list, keep in mind that these stations comprised the entire Canadian Broadcasting Corporation Network of 1942. Subsets of the CBC provided broadcasts and programming for Canada's French-speaking populace as well, concentrated mostly within its Quebec and Ontario stations. It's also worth noting that Canadians living near the northern borders of the U.S. could also receive thousands of U.S-originated programs as well.
That presented a problem for the commerical stations that comprised the CBC. The solution was transcriptions of popular American broadcasts of the era so that local sponsors throughout Canada could transmit their commercial messages alongside those of American broadcasters.
Two of the CBC's more ambitious commercial stations were CJOC, Lethbridge and CJRC, Winnipeg. Both stations regularly broadcast all manner of transcribed, syndicated programs of the era. On October 1st 1943 the former Winnipeg station, CJRC underwent a call-sign change to CKRC. CKRC continued expanding its commercially sponsored offerings throughout the remainder of the Golden Age of Radio.
Biscuit giant Weston's brings The Queen's Men to the CBC
George Weston, Limited had become one of Canada's most successful food producers and distributors by 1954. Founded in 1882 by Toronto bread salesman George Weston, the company survived both World War I and the Great Depression to become one of Canada's most popularly traded growth stocks. Famous throughout the Golden Age of Radio era for its wide variety of biscuits and candies, by 1954 George Weston, Limited had expanded its holdings by acquiring a number of competing bakeries, grocery store chains, and candy and ice cream companies.
So it was that at the beginning of its greatest period of 1950s expansion, George Weston, Ltd. and its various Weston's biscuit and cracker brands determined to sponsor Harry Alan Towers' latest British programme, The Queen's Men over CBC station CKRC, Winnipeg.
Harry Alan Towers and his Towers of London transcription house had been the producer of many of the Golden Age of Radio's most popular and enduring programs, among them:
Airing for a total of twenty-six programmes, The Queen's Men dramatized the adventures of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police from the perspectives of retired and active RCMP personnel. The premiere programme, Canada's Great Manhunt, was told from the perspective of a retired RCMP constable--or simply 'Uncle Wally'--as related to his nephew Davy.
The series premiered over CKRC on January 3rd 1954 and ran until June 27th 1954. Reportedly performed, recorded and transcribed at the London studios of Towers of London, the series advertised a cast comprised of mostly Canadian ex-patriates to add a more authentic Canadian flavor to the series. In practice we can hear both Lou Jacobi and Arthur Hill in supporting roles during the series, so it would seem apparent that at least two of the episodes of The Queen's Men were recorded in Canada. Both Canadian-born, Lou Jacobi and Arthur Hill went on to distinguished careers on the Stage, in Film and on Television. The Queen's Men is undoubtedly one of only a handful of Radio programmes of the era in which both famous actors appeared at the same time.
And authentic it is, as one can tell from the moment the first 'aboot' is uttered in lieu of 'about.' The Queen's Men was written in Canada by John Adaskin and was produced, directed and transcribed in London by Harry Alan Towers. Towers of London's Music Director Sydney Torch provided the supporting musical accompaniment.
Billed as "for the first time, authentic stories of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police" we could find no support for the veracity of that statement. But it's clear that several of the programmes throughout the series were indeed adapted from many of the RCMP's most famous or notorious cases, the 1906 CPR Gold Robbery for one. Set in post-World War II Canada, the series chronicled stories ranging between the late 19th Century and the late 1940s. Each episode opened with the RCMP Oath of Office:
I solemnly swear that I will faithfully, diligently and impartially execute and perform the duties required of me as a member of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, and will well and truly obey and perform all lawful orders and instructions which I shall receive as such, without fear, favour or affection of or towards any person. So help me God.
The mix of cases adapted for The Queen's Men dramatized an interesting cross-section of RCMP casework. Though mostly comprised of crime dramatizations, The Queen's Men also provided several more light-hearted and uplifting adventures during the course of its twenty-six episodes.
Harry Alan Towers, for all the controversy and scandal forever associated with his life and career clearly knew what constituted good Radio. The selection of John Adaskin to write, adapt and supervise The Queen's Men was not only the perfect political stroke for the era, but a brilliant decision based only on Adaskin's incredibly diverse experience and talent. A member of one of Canada's most talented and ambitious families, John Adaskin could literally do it all in Radio. He'd been a busy and successful Radio Producer himself, he was a brilliant musical artist (cellist and conductor), as were most of the members of his celebrated family, and he was a brilliant organizer with experience dating back to the formation of Canada's CRBC. He could certainly have handled the production, music direction and writing if it had been left to him to do so. As it was, his adaptations of some of the RCMP's most famous cases provided not only literal dramatizations of those cases, but added a very human quality to the dialogue and interactions between the characters in the scripts.
|RadioGOLDINdex, Hickerson Guide, The History of Canadian Broadcasting.
Notes on Provenances:
The most helpful provenances were the log of the RadioGOLDINdex and newspaper listings.
It would appear that there may be circulating audition or trial recording of The Queen's Men. Either that, or someone's gone to great lengths to manufacture a non-existent episode of the series. Two circulating exemplars contain the exact same internal script differing only in their timing, their introductions, and their concluding narratives:
- Both scripts dramatize the famous 1906 CPR Gold Train Robbery.
- The recording previously circulated as "Gold Robbery" is introduced by a retired RCMP Constable and his nephew. That recording is approximately 29:05 in length.
- The recording previously--and inaccurately--circulated as "The Calvin Burke Case" is the identical internal script of the dramatization of the 1906 CPR Gold Train Robbery, but it's introduced by a group of mounties reminiscing over coffee. That recording is approximately 27:45 in length. And as might be expected these days "The Calvin Burke Case" has nothing whatsoever to do with anything or anyone in that script.
We're inclined to conclude that one or the other--in all likelihood the longer of the two--is either an audition or a trial recording. But of course the opposite could just as easily be the case. The longer recording has a retired RCMP Constable sharing the stories of his career with a nephew. It's entirely conceivable that The Queen's Men was initially framed as a series of episodes recited by the same "Uncle Wally" to his nephew, Davy. Or that episode was simply a different rendition of the same script . . . or neither of these hyopotheses. We simply don't know at this time.
In fact we may never know now, given the vandalism that's been visited upon the circulating recordings.
When we first started collecting Canadian programmes fifteen years ago we were quite impressed with the integrity of the comparatively few Canadian programmes that had entered circulation over the years. It would appear that in the interim the same old gang of The Usual OTR Suspects has decided to expand their vandalism to Canadian programmes as well:
- Several of the circulating exemplars of The Queen's Men have been stereoized from relatively inferior source recordings.
- Of the estimated thirteen circulating exemplars of The Queen's Men at least three have been heavily edited and/or manufactured to give the impression of an orginal source recording. All these butchers managed to do is virtually destroy the resultant exemplar.
- Several circulating exemplars have been intentionally renamed and retagged to give the impression of a previously uncirculating recording.
How sad, but predictiable . . .
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