My One Channel Universe was in Black and White

 (j) Popular Culture  Comments Off on My One Channel Universe was in Black and White
Jul 272019

My wife and I recently installed a satellite dish at our cottage after almost a decade of not having television at the lake.  After scrolling through the channels provided I am staggered by how little there is to watch in the way of commercial programming that isn’t entitled Wheel of Fortune, Jeopardy, sports or cable news.

I realize my childhood memories of television are tinged with nostalgia for a bygone era of programming, but I would argue that there was more good quality programming on the CBC of fifty years ago than any one commercial network today.

For those of you younger than 45, you likely cannot imagine a choice of CBC, CBC or CBC, but growing up in Calgary, Regina and Saskatoon in the 1960s that was your option.

We had a fourteen inch black and white television with rabbit ears that sat on top of the television.  They were absolutely necessary to get the local CBC station.  Reception in poor weather was sketchy at best, and if it was snowing you just turned the set off because the atmospheric disturbances rendered the picture unwatchable.  I remember listening to a Saskatchewan Roughrider-Calgary Stampeder playoff game in 1970 on the radio when an early November snowstorm turned the television picture into a sea of static.

CBC Calgary signed on at 8 AM every morning and signed off at 11:30 every evening with the politically incorrect “Indian head” test pattern acting as a placeholder till the next morning.  My mornings as a child were filled with Mr. Dressup, The Friendly Giant, Chez Helene and Rocket Robin Hood.  Mr. Dressup and The Friendly Giant were gentle and intellectual children’s programming that encouraged imagination and literacy.  I am sure that my love of drawing came from endless episodes of watching Mr. Dressup work miracles with his felt pen collection.  Canada was not an officially bilingual country till 1969, but Chez Helene and her mouse Suzie did exceptional service trying to introduce the French language and culture to places like Calgary where the language was barely heard.

The television in our home was seldom on after lunch as there were naps and chores to do around the house, and my mother would then bundle us all up, weather permitting, for our time outside with the neighbourhood kids.  My one piece snowmobile suit got a workout all those prairie winters as it was seldom “too cold” to go outside.  School also made it difficult to watch most of the afternoon programming that was being offered, so I will withhold comment regarding the quality of what was on while I tried to better myself at Norquay Drive Elementary School.

Once my father was home from work and supper was done the television came back on.  My parents loved variety shows, and CBC offered up the most incredible buffet of Canadian song, dance and comedy found anywhere.  Whether it was Don Messer’s Jubilee, Wayne and Shuster who my Dad thought were comedic geniuses, Pig and Whistle, Sing Along Jubilee or Tommy Hunter anyone who was anyone in Canadian culture was featured on these programs.

My Dad was a “news junkie” long before the advent of CNN.  He watched the National every evening, and also thoroughly enjoyed watching Reach for the Top and Front Page ChallengeFront Page Challenge with its all-star cast featuring Betty Davis, Gordon Sinclair and Pierre Burton gave Canadians access to newsmakers from across the globe.

CBC was limited by legislation the number of American programs they could offer, particularly in prime time.  I was very thankful that two they chose to broadcast were amongst my favorites, Bonanza and The Wonderful World of Disney. Bonanza was the show that my older brother and Dad seldom missed, and if Mom allowed it, I could stay up and watch it too.  The only time we ever ate at television tables was on Sunday nights so we could watch The Wonderful World of Disney which was broadcast between 6 and 7 PM.

Weekends were the time for sports with my beloved Montreal Canadiens seldom if ever appearing on Hockey Night In Canada, because Calgary was a Leaf town.  By the time I could truly appreciate the nuances of hockey the glory days of the Leafs were over, and they were terrible to watch.  CBC has a symbiotic relationship with the Canadian Football League, and broadcast homegrown gridiron action with all the pomp and circumstance that was available.  I never missed a game when my Green Riders played, but was careful with whom I shared my football allegiance with as we lived in Stampeder country.

When my two widowed grandmothers visited us, their very different tastes in television certainly influenced what we watched.  My diminutive Scottish Grandma was a died in the wool Stampede Wrestling fan and many a happy Saturday afternoon was spent on the couch with her while she knitted and revelled in the exploits of Killer Kowalski and Gene Kiniski.  Host Ed Whalen whipped the crowd into frenzy, and I wonder how much recreation room furniture was destroyed in Alberta as young fans tried to emulate their heroes of the mats.   To this day I am not sure if Grandma Moreland knew it was all a choreographed spectacle, but it didn’t matter, and if Grandma was watching it I could watch too.  When my devout Norwegian Grandma was visiting, sports on Sunday afternoon were sacrificed to the altar of Hymn Sing, a rebroadcast of a Billy Graham revival from some exotic locale around the world, or watching the evangelist Garner Ted Armstrong.  All I remember of any of those shows is the choir on Hymn Sing was much better than the one at my local United Church who I remember as having the average age of over a hundred.

I never remember being disappointed with what was on, and spent many enjoyable hours sitting in front of that wooden box that filled our living room like a colossus.  I wouldn’t have traded those hours spent with my family for anything the world.  One channel was truly enough when what was on was worth watching.



 Posted by at 4:45 pm

Summertime Activities 3 – Get Paddling

 (a) CKL News  Comments Off on Summertime Activities 3 – Get Paddling
Jul 272019

Few outdoor activities are more quintessentially Canadian than canoeing.  Canoes, in their many shapes and forms, are older than Canada itself.

There are three very different kinds of craft that are associated with canoeing in Canada.  There is the bark covered canoe of the First Nations peoples, later shared with early explorers, fur traders, lumbermen and settlers.  Then there is the skin covered kayak of Canada’s Inuit peoples, its covered hull much more protective of the paddler while plying the frigid waters of the Arctic Ocean. Last there are the massive dugout canoes almost exclusively used by the First Nations peoples of Canada west coast that were capable of long distance ocean travel. Continue reading »

 Posted by at 4:34 pm

Summertime Activities 1 – Get Riding

 (a) CKL News  Comments Off on Summertime Activities 1 – Get Riding
Jul 272019

With the arrival of the nice weather it is time for the residents of Kawartha Lakes to go outside and get active.

One of the easiest ways to get active for those of all ages is bicycling, and Canada has had a long love affair with bicycling since the two-wheeler arrived in Montreal in 1868.  Albert Lane brought the first bicycle to Canada, and that lone bicycle would soon be followed by thousands of others, largely manufactured in the United Kingdom. Continue reading »

 Posted by at 4:31 pm

Know Your Enemies

 (c) Provincial News  Comments Off on Know Your Enemies
Jul 272019

Canadians wait eight to nine miserable months a year to enjoy the pleasures of being outside in the late spring and the summer.  Unfortunately, as soon as the snow disappears and the warm weather arrives, those Canadians who wish to spend time outside have to deal with the Four Horsemen of the Insect Apocalypse.  Mosquitoes, black flies, deer flies and horse flies exist solely to drive Canadian lovers of the outdoors to distraction on a seasonal basis. Continue reading »

 Posted by at 4:13 pm

Just Saying…… An Editorial Comment

 (i) Editorials  Comments Off on Just Saying…… An Editorial Comment
May 282019

There is an expectation on Parliament Hill that as part of Bill C-71, a federal law and order rewrite, that the federal Liberals will ban the further purchase and importation of the original “Black Rifle”, the AR-15. Many expect the bill to go further than that and order the confiscation of the close to 86,000 AR’s that are already in private hands right across Canada. Continue reading »

 Posted by at 9:33 pm

Celebrating Doctors’ Month in Ontario

 (a) CKL News  Comments Off on Celebrating Doctors’ Month in Ontario
May 282019

Most Ontarians have a close and very important relationship with their family doctor. If you are lucky enough to have a primary care physician in some isolated parts of Ontario you consider yourself indeed fortunate. If you are without a family doctor, that can be a significant cause for stress and worry. Continue reading »

 Posted by at 9:30 pm

A Future Starting Quarterback for Riders?

 (h) Sports  Comments Off on A Future Starting Quarterback for Riders?
May 022019

In pro football, coaches have long accepted that in an ideal world the two most cerebral athletes on your team need to be your quarterback and your middle linebacker.  Think Doug Flutie, Warren Moon, Tom Clements, Danny Bass, Wayne Harris or Mike O’Shea.  These athletes combined the qualities of leadership, a high football I.Q. and an off-the-chart level of athleticism. Continue reading »

 Posted by at 4:26 pm

Dreams Die Hard

 (h) Sports  Comments Off on Dreams Die Hard
May 022019

Without getting out your cellphones, who are David Watford, Jeremiah Briscoe and De’Vante Kincaide and what do they have in common? Continue reading »

 Posted by at 4:18 pm

There Is A Reason You Play The Games

 (h) Sports  Comments Off on There Is A Reason You Play The Games
Apr 302019

When the first round of the National Hockey League playoffs began earlier this month there appeared to be some givens accepted by insider/experts and bar stool prophets alike.  Tampa Bay was going to crush Columbus, Washington was going to compete for a second Stanley Cup after dispatching Carolina and likely there would be at least two Canadian teams remaining in the second round. Continue reading »

 Posted by at 4:13 pm

Harris, Reilly and Mitchell Highlight CFL Off- Season

 (h) Sports  Comments Off on Harris, Reilly and Mitchell Highlight CFL Off- Season
Apr 302019

Depending upon whether a new collective agreement can be reached between the CFL and the CFLPA, training camps could open mid-May. There has been a whirlwind of player movement right across the league this winter, and in particular many a quarterback has found themselves a new home or a much more lucrative contract for the 2019 season. Continue reading »

 Posted by at 4:04 pm

TLDSB Hoping for Clearer Picture

 (e) Education  Comments Off on TLDSB Hoping for Clearer Picture
Apr 242019

Director of Education for the Trillium Lakelands District School Board Larry Hope believes that senior staff will soon have all the information that they need to timetable for 2019-2020. read more…

 Posted by at 4:22 pm