Marconi National Historic Site of Canada
First Transatlantic Radio
Links and documents
Listed on the Canadian Register:
Statement of Significance
Description of Historic Place
The Marconi National Historic Site of Canada marks the isolated site where Guglielmo Marconi received the first transatlantic telegraph message in Table Head, Cape Breton Regional Municipality, Nova Scotia. It is situated on a plateau above high cliffs overlooking the Atlantic Ocean, and contains the remains of two telegraph towers that once supported Marconi’s antennae and the foundation walls of his receiving room and powerhouse. The official recognition refers to the parcel of land where the remains are located and the associated landscape.
The Marconi site was designated a National Historic Site of Canada in 1939 because:
- it is the site of the first exchange of radio messages across the Atlantic, an event of national historic significance;
- it commemorates the efforts and accomplishments of Guglielmo Marconi in the field of wireless communications.
The heritage value of the Marconi National Historic Site of Canada lies in its historical association with the work of Guglielmo Marconi as illustrated by the surviving cultural landscape. This value resides in the setting and disposition of the site and in the archaeological remains of Marconi’s activity contained within the site.
Guglielmo Marconi used this site as his first commercial research and transmission facility during the years 1902-1904 before moving his headquarters to a new location. He received and sent the first exchange of radio messages across the Atlantic at this location. The station constructed in 1902 consisted of four towers 64 metres high, set in a square-shaped 64 metre square piece of land, which together supported an antenna of copper wires in the shape of an inverted pyramid. An operating room and powerhouse were constructed in the middle of the square with a residence for senior staff at the south end of the site. These facilities were dismantled and moved to a larger site between Glace Bay and Port Morien, in 1904.
Sources: Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada, Minutes, June 1983; Ministerial Agreement with the Marconi Celebration Trust, 1985; Commemorative Integrity Statement, March 2004.
Key elements that contribute to the heritage character of the site include:
- the location on an isolated, extreme easterly point of land overlooking the Atlantic Ocean;
- the natural landscape with its open plateau;
- the surviving square footprints of towers and the remains of the eight metres squared foundation walls in their approximately 1 metre-high profiles and their concrete materials;
- the spatial relationships of the remains to one another;
- any surviving evidence of Guglielmo Marconi remaining on the site;
- the site’s viewscapes northeast across the Atlantic; west, to the sites of Marconi’s two relocated tower bases; on Marconi’s original residential site, which is very well hidden underneath Timmerman Street or beneath the private houses on the south side of the street; and, towards the northeast across the Atlantic Ocean.
Government of Canada
Historic Sites and Monuments Act
National Historic Site of Canada
1902/01/01 to 1904/01/01
1938/01/01 to 1938/01/01
1985/01/01 to 1985/01/01
Theme - Category and Type
- Expressing Intellectual and Cultural Life
- Developing Economies
- Communications and Transportation
Function - Category and Type
- Health and Research
- Research Facility
Architect / Designer
Location of Supporting Documentation
National Historic Sites Directorate, Documentation Centre, 5th Floor, Room 89, 25 Eddy Street, Gatineau, Quebec
Cross-Reference to Collection