Over the years , the branch of the Canadian government which administered radio communications policy and licensing had been known under five different titles.
The table below is a brief summary of the names and years for the various departments.

Department of the Naval Service 1913  1921 The Radio Telegraph Act  of 1913 authorized  the Department. of Naval Service to regulate radio among one of its duties .Commercial licences were created sometime after the Titanic sinking.

In 1921, the naval component was transferred to the "Department of Militia and Defence and the Naval Service" then it reverted to the old department name for the period. {see credit 1). The first amateur radio license issued in Canada was on July 29, 1920.

Department of Marine and Fisheries 1927 1936   The "from" date when radioo administration was added to the department is not known at this time. Radio was invented long after the department was formed in 1868. Marine and Fisheries merged with the Department of Transport in 1936.
Department of Transport - 
Radio Division
1936 1969 The Department of Transport was created in 1935  by the government of William Lyon Mackenzie King on recognition of the changing transportation environment in Canada at the time. It merged three departments: the former Department of Railways and Canals, the Department of Marine and Fisheries, and the Civil Aviation Branch of the Department of National Defence (c. 1927 when it replaced the Air Board) under C. D. Howe, who would use the portfolio to rationalize the governance and provision of all forms of transportation (air, water and land). He created a National Harbours Board and Trans-Canada Air Lines. The Department of Transport Act came into force on November 2, 1936.
Canadian Radio and Television Commission 1968 Present day Created for the administration of commercial telecommunications matters. Plenty  information on the CRTC is available on the web.
Department of Communications Apr 1/69 1996
Telesat  Sept 1/69  Present day Administration of matters dealing with the domestic Canadian  satellite system.
Industry Canada (Radio Communications and
Broadcasting Regulatory Branch)
1995 Present day
For more detailed information on radio administrations in Canada, please select this link, This list of radio administration highlights was provided by Laval Desabiens  and Pierre Poulin  of DRB Ottawa as part of a project on the History of Spectrum Management in Canada.


The Canadian  Navy came into existence on May 4, 1910, when the Naval Service Act became law, and later that year its first ships were commissioned . These were two cruisers purchased from the Royal Navy (RN). Permission to add the prefix "Royal" was granted by King George V in 1911. Apart from two submarines acquired in 1914, Niobe and Rainbow were the only offensive warships to serve in the RCN during the First World War. the Act provided, however, that the Department of Naval Service should incorporate the fisheries patrol, hydrographic, tidal survey, and wireless telegraphic services of the Department of Marine and Fisheries.

This announcement , which appeared in the April 1922 issue of Canadian Wireless magazine, illustrates some of the responsibilities of The Naval Service (Provided by Lewis Bodkin) 


The Department of Marine and Fisheries was created on July 1, 1867, although it did not receive legislative authority until May 22, 1868. The department's political representative in Parliament was the Minister of Marine and Fisheries, with the first minister having been the Hon. Peter Mitchell. The department was headquartered in the Centre Block of Parliament Hill until the disastrous fire of 1916, after which it was moved into the West Block and then off Parliament Hill entirely when new government office buildings were constructed in Ottawa. This department was eventually tacked with the administration of radio matters.

Applicants for an amateur radio licence wrote a spark based examination  up to and including 1928. Those that wrote the spark licence in 1928 and all those before that date had to be re-examined in 1929 for a CW licence. The Deartment itself underwent a series of name changes as well:  .

1867 - 1884 Department of Marine and Fisheries
1884 - 1892 Department of Fisheries
1892 - 1914 Department of Marine and Fisheries
1914 - 1920 Department of Naval Services
1920 - 1930 Department of Marine and Fisheries
1930 - 1969 Department of Fisheries
1930 - 1935 Department of Marine*
1969 - 1971 Department of Fisheries and Forestry
1971 - 1976 Department of the Environment
1976 - 1979 Department of Fisheries and the Environment
1979 - 2008 Department of Fisheries and Oceans
2008–Present Fisheries and Oceans Canada

* In 1935, the Department of Marine was merged with the Department of Railways and Canals and the Civil Aviation Branch of the Department of National Defence to form the Department of Transport, also known as Transport Canada.

Related legislation


John Gilbert writes " There was a task force set up around 1967, chaired by the late John Chapman. One of its recommendations was to create a Department of Communications. DOC came into being on April 1, 1969 and that same year CRTC and Telesat were created. DOC was created by bringing together DRTE (which became CRC), the Radio Regs group from Transport and a small group from the PCO. It was a messy period as the DRTE, which had been with DRB, had its own administrative structure which were not like the rest of the public service. For example, DRTE had a complex system of committees which continuously evaluated the performance of its scientists. Further, some of its staff were not even here (military attaches overseas, on assignment with the Norwegian research organizations etc.). Only the Headquarters of the Radio Regs came over on 1 April 1969 with the regions not being transferred from DOT until a year later. Only five regions were created, unlike Transport which had six (DOC did not have an Edmonton Regional Office). This had a big impact later, when I was Regional Director in Winnipeg in 1985-86. Alberta, at 2.5 million population was twice the size of my other two provinces so I spent a lot of time shuttling between Winnipeg and Edmonton. This became really complicated when we started to licence cellular companies – a brilliant roll out based on census metropolitan areas. Alberta had two (Edmonton and Calgary) while the others had one each.

Around 1972 I wrote a paper about the early days of DOC at the direction of the Deputy Minister. Of course, the irony was that just as countries like Australia followed our lead and created their Department of Communications, we started adding culture to the mix and created the era known as the “Iron Ring versus the earring”. That led to the demise of DOC. That too, is nother story. The Canada Post period was quite brief. I think it was because on April 1 1969 the DOC Act had not yet gone through Parliament in time or maybe Treasury Board had not approved the budget for the new Department."

Credits and References:

1)  Laval Desbiens <[desbienslaval(at)>
3) John Gilbert
4) Department of Transport creation
5) Spud Roscoe <spudroscoe(at)>
6) Lewis Bodkin   <05bodkin555(at)>
7) Fisheries history
10) Pierre Poulin DRB OttawaDRB Ottawa
11) Trport:  Bringing Communications to the North 1968-75”

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  Mar 4/19