CBC Digital Archives

Greetings from the Beaver Club

From 1939 to 1945 Canadian soldiers, sailors and air force personnel lived and died in lands far from home. CBC Radio was one of the few links friends and family in Canada had to their loved ones abroad. Through reports from the front, dramatizations and direct greetings from soldiers, CBC revealed what life on the battlefront was like.

The best thing about being a soldier overseas is surviving long enough to go on leave. Canadian soldiers on leave in London, England were made to feel right at home at the Beaver Club. Located near Trafalgar Square, the Beaver Club was not just a place for Canadian servicemen to relax, but to line up for a few seconds of CBC Radio airtime to send a quick message home.
. In October 1942, a month after the raid on Dieppe, CBC stopped broadcasting messages from overseas. Families frequently missed the messages and wanted them broadcast again, and there was also the chance of messages getting to air after the men who had recorded them had been reported killed, wounded or missing. By 1942 there were so many Canadians overseas that only a small percentage could get on air.

. The Beaver Club was opened by the Queen Mother in 1940. Canadian service personnel could buy items at reduced rates and get some things free.
. The most commonly requested care package item was cigarettes. Cigarettes were often traded for other luxury items or given as bribes. Due to shipping problems and a shortage of tobacco growers, good tobacco became increasingly hard to find as the war progressed.

Photo: Frank Royal / National Archives of Canada PA-115176
Medium: Radio
Program: Greetings from the Beaver Club
Broadcast Date: Jan. 1, 1940
Duration: 6:59

Last updated: March 30, 2012

Page consulted on December 6, 2013

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