Archive | Pope John Paul II's First Visit to Canada

Archives | The first visit of Pope John Paul II to Canada

The Pope John Paul II travels across Canada for the first time from September 9 to 20, 1984.

From September 9 to 20, 1984, millions of viewers are glued to their screens to follow the first visit of a pope to Canadian soil. As host broadcaster, Radio-Canada is deploying the most extensive television coverage ever at the time for this event.

Of the 23 trips made to date by Pope John Paul II, none had the geographic extent of Canada.

In his 11-day tour, the Pope visited 13 cities and crossed the entire country, from Saint-Jean de Terre Newfoundland to Vancouver, from the Atlantic to the Pacific.

Some 60 events are on the program for this 16,000 kilometer radio and television round trip.

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Radio-Canada host broadcaster to travel to 13 Canadian cities to cover the 60 events of the visit of Pope John Paul II.

It was at the invitation of the Department of External Affairs that Radio-Canada accepted the special mandate of host broadcaster.

Radio-Canada then broadcasts throughout the country all the formal and official aspects of the Pope's visit, through more than 120 hours of coverage and reports.

The mandate of the host broadcaster is also to provide the sound and image of the papal visit to all broadcasters, both Canadian and foreign.

In total, Radio-Canada will use approximately 50 report vans, 300 color cameras, 1,600 microphones and 300,000 meters of cable.

For this ambitious broadcasting project, the broadcaster will also need the services of nearly 1,500 technicians and production crew members.

Logo and visual identity of Radio-Canada's documentation for the Pope's visit to Canada.

Each time he sets foot in a new country, Pope John Paul II kisses the ground.

As this report from the Téléjournal of September 9, 1984 shows, this gesture is also made in Quebec, where the Pope begins his Canadian tour.


Upon his arrival, at 11:20 a.m., on the tarmac of the Quebec City airport, the Sovereign Pontiff made known his message, centered on pluralism and respect for minorities.

“Hail to you people of this country; Native Americans; people of French and English origin; immigrants from all over. »

— Pope John Paul II

He is welcomed by political and ecclesiastical personalities, but also by a flight of doves as a sign of peace.

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For the Pope's tour of Canada, Radio-Canada equips the Popemobile with a remote-controlled camera by helicopter.

Used for public travel, the popemobile made an impression from the first moments of this visit by the Holy Father.

For the first time, the papal vehicle is equipped with an interior camera remotely controlled by helicopter, whose images are transmitted by Radio-Canada.

Four reporting teams are also deployed to track the smallest details of the route and public events on the program of the Pope's tour.

For the greatest benefit of viewers, this results in days of 6 to 8 hours of special broadcasts per day.

The day after his arrival in Quebec, the Pope continues his trip to Montreal for a visit which promises to be most intense.

Report by Claude Gervais on the visit of Pope John Paul II to Montreal as part of his Canadian tour. The news bulletin is presented by Bernard Derome.

Journalist Claude Gervais takes stock of this busy stay at Téléjournalof September 11, 1984.

In the morning, the sovereign pontiff went to Saint Joseph's Oratory to give a lesson in Christian morality to the Quebec bishops.

He then meets hundreds of children at Notre-Dame Church.

After an open-air mass in Jarry Park, John Paul II moves to the Olympic Stadium, where he is welcomed by 60,000 young people aged 16 to 25.


Some 2,400 young people take part in the show created in honor of the Holy Father. Celine Dion then sings her famous song A Dove to the Pope. The themes conveyed by the show are the hopes and sufferings of young people.

John Paul II encourages young people to get involved in youth movements. He expressed concern about unemployment and drugs.

During his tour of Canada, the pope addresses a pastoral message of justice.

Report by James Bamber analyzing the religious, social and political message of Pope John Paul II at the end of his visit to Canada. The news bulletin is presented by Bernard Derome.

Journalist James Bamber analyzes the meaning of the messages of the Holy Father to Téléjournalfrom September 21, 1984 hosted by Bernard Derome.

Pope John Paul II talks about social justice in Newfoundland, tolerance in Manitoba, self-determination of Aboriginal peoples and world peace.

In Toronto, he speaks out on technology, which he believes should serve humanity, not impoverish it.

In another type of message, he encourages religious practice, while reminding the faithful that they must obey specific precepts: no to abortion, no to divorce and concubinage, no to marriage for priests.

“While it is still too early to assess the impact of this long visit, it is not unlikely to think today that most Canadians have been touched by this character who believes so deeply in what he does that even believers can be surprised.

—Journalist James Bamber

By the end of John Paul II's visit to Canada, over 13 million Canadians will have watched at least some of the coverage broadcast on Radio-Canada's French and English networks.

On the French network, the most-watched day was Tuesday, September 11, with 5,013,000 viewers glued to their screens to attend the pope's visit to the Quebec metropolis.

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