The following recording is a CKAC aircheck from 1924. In it you can hear the voice of Rex Battle, famed pianist and orchestra conductor, being broadcasted from the Mount Royal Hotel in downtown Montreal. Considering the date of the broadcast, this is the oldest recording of a Canadian radio broadcast that we know of!
The Centennial team would like to thank David Lennick for sharing this recording with us.
|Transcription of the recording|
|CKAC – La Presse, Montreal. This is the Hotel Mount-Royal Concert Orchestra, under the direction of Rex Battle, broadcasting direct from the main dining room of the Mount-Royal Hotel. This is Rex Battle speaking. I’m going to play a piano solo, the Rondo Capriccioso, by Mendelssohn. I am playing this at the request of Mrs. LR Taft of Detroit, Michigan. I understand that the record… the Apex Record Company are going to make a record of this over the air. I wish them good luck!|
Who was Rex Battle
Prodigious and acclaimed pianist, organist, composer, conductor, and bandleader, Rex Battle (1895?-1967) began his career in the UK, and reached great popularity in the US and Canada(1)(2).
Some of his career highlights include:
-  Begins his radio broadcasting career on WWJ Detroit
- [1922-1929] Was musical director and pianist at the Mount Royal Hotel in Montreal
- [1929-1938] Conducted the Royal York Hotel Concert Orchestra in Toronto
-  Forms one of Canada’s first big bands
- [1943-1956] Becomes music director and conductor of CBC radio’s “Singing Stars of Tomorrow”
During his time in Montreal, he made several recordings as conductor and pianist for Apex Records. Apex was the “pop” sub-label of Compo Company Ltd., known for issuing records that featured live performances broadcasted over the radio(3).
(1) Ruth Pincoe  Rex Battle. Retrieved from https://www.thecanadianencyclopedia.ca/en/article/rex-battle-emc
(2) Clara Thomas Archives, Inventory of the Rex Battle fonds, Fonds level description. Fonds Number F0518. York University. Retrieved from http://archivesfa.library.yorku.ca/fonds/ON00370-f0000518.htm
(3) Edward B. Moogk  Compo Company Ltd. Retrieved from https://www.thecanadianencyclopedia.ca/en/article/compo-company-ltd-emc