A Marconi Wireless Telegraph Station was built adjacent to the Cape Bear Lighthouse in 1905, one of seven such stations established by the Department of Marine and Fisheries around that time. A large pole measuring 165 feet was erected near the lighthouse and held in an upright position by several guy wires cemented into the ground.
Its principal purpose was to communicate with ships at sea and the ice-breaking steamers, Stanley and Minto, which linked Pictou, Nova Scotia with Charlottetown and Georgetown, Prince Edward Island.
B. E. Hobbs was the first station operator, from 1905 to 1912. His successor, (Walter) Thomas Bartlett, came to P.E.I. from Brigus, Newfoundland. Thomas married Beth Harris, daughter of the former lighthouse keepers, William and Annie Harris. They had 6 children and the family lived at the Marconi station at Cape Bear.
Thomas was on duty on April 14th, 1912, the night the S.O.S. distress signal was transmitted by the R.M.S. Titanic.
The station ceased operations in 1922, and the building that housed the station was sold to Robert Glover in 1929. The original structure now serves as a family home in Guernsey Cove.
Cape Bear Heard the Titanic
On the night of April 14, 1912, Thomas Bartlett received the first distress signal in Canada from the Titanic as it was sinking off the coast of Newfoundland.
A similar station at Cape Race in Newfoundland was in communication with the Titanic, but at that time Newfoundland was not a part of Canada.
Listen to a reconstruction of the distress call from the Titanic:
CQD CQD SOS DE MGY MGY REQUIR IMEDIAT ASISTANC POSITION 41.46 N 50.14 W