In the early days of September 1952, Canadians welcomed a stranger into their living rooms. CBC Television was on the air at last - and this country would never be quite the same again.
For 50 years, CBC TV has held up a mirror to Canadian society. It has celebrated our triumphs, charted our political fortunes, chronicled the changes in our way of life and helped us to come together at times of crisis. Day in and day out, our public broadcaster tells stories that help us to understand who we are as a people.
This fall, VisionTV honours the 50th anniversary of CBC Television with a 10-part series of special presentations running through the weeks of Sept. 16 and Sept. 23. Each weeknight at 8 p.m. ET, Canada's multi-faith network will air vintage programs from the CBC archives - many of which have not been seen for decades.
These documentaries, quiz shows, interviews and profiles, which cover topics ranging from political philosophy to pop culture, reveal much about the evolution of our society (not to mention the medium of television) over the past several decades. And they serve to illustrate the sheer depth and breadth of programming offered by the CBC in its ongoing effort to explore what it means to be Canadian.
VisionTV's tribute to CBC Television will be hosted by renowned author and broadcaster Patrick Watson, former chairman of the CBC and a driving force behind such groundbreaking programs as This Hour Has Seven Days and The Struggle for Democracy.
Says Alberta Nokes, Executive Producer for the anniversary special: "Over the last half- century, CBC TV has demonstrated the unbounded potential of public broadcasting. When you look at these programs, the strengths of the CBC are so apparent. It has informed, entertained and educated Canadians, helping to weave the cultural fabric of this country. As a broadcaster with a public service mandate, VisionTV has tremendous admiration and appreciation for the CBC, and it gives us real pleasure to pay homage in this way to 50 years of television excellence."
This special presentation is being produced with the assistance of CBC archivist Laurie Nemetz, who has unearthed many forgotten treasures, and Caroline Dorris, who has done painstaking research on broadcast clearances.
Celebrating 50 Years of CBC Television: Broadcast Schedule
Monday, Sept. 16: "Canadian Families and What They Watched"
A 1956 installment of Graphic looks at the "typical" Canadian family, while
the quiz show Fighting Words features authors Robertson Davies and J.B. Priestley debating a quotation from Aldous Huxley.
Tuesday, Sept. 17: "Philosophy and Pop Culture"
This episode features a 1959 interview with British philosopher Bertrand Russell, and a 1962 investigation of the dance craze then sweeping the nation: the Twist.
Wednesday, Sept 18: "Were We Smarter Then?"
It's the kind of intellectually challenging program viewers rarely see on television anymore: Produced in 1967, The Tyranny of the Many explores the ideas of Pulitzer Prize-winning political philosopher Walter Lippmann.
Thursday, Sept. 19: "Centennial Overture"
This 1966 program looks at Centennial projects in the works across Canada - among them the construction of Expo 67 in Montreal.
Friday, Sept. 20: "Let's All Go to Expo"
The Maxwell family packs up the car and heads for Expo 67 in this special program, which offers helpful tips on travel and accommodation.
Monday, Sept. 23: "Famous, Glamorous and Modern"
A 1956 program spotlights legendary photographer Yousuf Karsh, while the 1958 show Scan takes the viewer behind the scenes at the CBC, with a profile of "girl" script assistants.
Tuesday, Sept. 24: "The Times They Were A-Changing"
The CBC tunes in and turns on, with programs from 1968 and 1969 featuring counter-cultural icons Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, the founder of Transcendental Meditation, and anthropologist Margaret Mead, a feminist leader whose work challenged traditional views on gender roles and sexuality.
Wednesday, Sept. 25: "Designs for Living"
The son of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle reconstructs the Victorian world of Sherlock Holmes in a program from 1968, while architectural visionary R. Buckminster Fuller unveils his plan for Toronto as a futuristic waterfront
city in 1969.
Thursday, Sept. 26: "How We Saw Ourselves Then"
The CBC brings Canadian history to the small screen in the 1972 program Images of Canada: The Craft of History.
Friday, Sept. 27: "Public Broadcasting: Essential or Irrelevant?"
Taped earlier this year in Banff, Close Up on Public Broadcasting features interviewer Ralph Benmergui in conversation with journalist Robert MacNeil, former co-host of the MacNeil/Lehrer NewsHour on PBS, and Mark Starowicz, creator of the CBC TV programs The Journal and Canada: A People's History.
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