March 25 - April 1, 2004

Quebec City and Trois-Rivieres, Quebec

As we continue our recap of our spring 1998 journey across eastern Canada (by way of northern Maine), we've left clear skies behind - and downtown Quebec City, too.

Our last stop in the provincial capital this June day is on Mount Bel Air, west of the city, where we find nearly all the city's FM stations. That's CHOI (98.1) on the right, the first tower you pass on the way up the hill (and the last one you pass on the way back down.)

At the top of the mountain, several towers sit in close proximity. I'm pretty sure the ones on the left are home to CJMF (93.3), CHIK (98.9), CITF (107.5) and CKMI-TV (Channel 20); another nearby tower holds the CBC's FM services, CBV (95.3), CBVX (100.7), CBVE (104.7) - and has since added CBC Radio Two outlet CBM-FM-1 (96.1) and CBVT (Channel 11).

Religious CION (90.9) is up here, too.

From Quebec City we headed west along the St. Lawrence River to Trois-Rivieres, the major city in the region known as the Mauricie.

Our first stop - well, OK, our second stop after a late-ish lunch - was north of Trois-Rivieres, in Notre-Dame-de-Mont-Carmel near Shawinigan, a small town perhaps best known as the home of former prime minister Jean Chretien.

Two tall towers in Mont-Carmel were home to all the FM and TV signals for the region - and we emphasize were, because this site was the scene of a tragedy a few years after our visit.

When we visited in 1998, there were two towers here. The short one, at left in both photos, held TVA affiliate CHEM-TV (Channel 8) and CHEY (94.7); the tall one (more than 300 meters) was crowned by the antenna of CKTM-TV (Channel 13), the Cogeco-owned Radio-Canada affiliate.

Moving down from the tower's peak, you see the antenna of Tele-Quebec educational station CIVC (Channel 45), the antennas of CBC relay CBMT-1 (Channel 28) and Quatre Saisons outlet CFKM (Channel 16), then below them Radio-Canada's CBF-FM-1 (104.3), relaying the chaine culturelle programming from CBFX in Montreal (and in fact, I believe the calls on 104.3 are now CBFX-1).

Just below that antenna (and, I believe, just under the big ice shield) was another set of FM bays shared by CBC English relay CBMZ (106.9) and Radio-Canada premiere chaine relay CBF-8-FM (88.1, now CBF-FM-8). Finally, there was CIGB (102.3), the "Energie" dance-CHR outlet based in Trois-Rivieres.

Alas, on April 23, 2001, a small plane hit the top of the tower, apparently right in the middle of the CIVC antenna system, about 300 meters above the ground.

The pilot was killed on impact, but his body remained lodged in the wreckage of the Cessna's cockpit until the tower was brought down five days later.

More than a hundred homes surrounding the tower site had to be evacuated for more than a day while the demolition was being planned; when it finally happened, the tower simply crumpled in on itself.

There's a new tower in the area now, though I don't believe it was rebuilt on precisely the same site - and in the process of moving towers, the CBC shuffled some of its frequencies in central Quebec, too. CBMZ is now on 93.9 with somewhat lower power (not that there are many English-speakers in the area to listen to it) and CBF-FM-8 is now on 96.5, where it originates a local morning show.

Heading into Trois-Rivieres, we find a compact downtown core and the office buildings that are home to the studios of CIGB, CHEY and CHLN (550). At 3625 Boulevard Chanoine-Moreau, on the north side of town, we find the studios of TVA's CHEM-TV. Not too far away, at 1441 Boulevard St.-Jean, we find the TV competition, the Cogeco building that's home to both Radio-Canada affiliate CKTM-TV and TQS affiliate CFKM-TV, which are under common ownership but operate separate newsrooms. (This building also houses the Mauricie bureau for Radio-Canada's RDI all-news channel.)

And on the south shore of the river, along Highway 132, we find the lone surviving AM - CHLN 550, with its three towers - and the nearby site of the former CJTR (1140), where one tower still stands, carrying two-way radio antennas.

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