Wednesday, June 13, 2007

CFPL's gift to Ontario and Canada

I have a friend who works in the Archives of Ontario and he let me know that the Archives has put up a new display on their website. A television station by the call letters CFPL in London, Ontario, only the second private broadcaster in Canada, donated their considerable film archives to the province. The Archives of Ontario has had a chance to finally review some it and has selected various news items from the period 1953 (when CFPL went on the air) to 1968.

I find it a fascinating look back at who we were. The Canada of the period strikes me as rather more parochial than the country I know today. Man-in-the-street interviews (and there are several spanning the period) reveal the people as soft-spoken and willing to take the time to consider their answers rather than shooting their mouths off. Their concerns, judging from the newscasts, are far more localized than today. There's a surprising maturity, though. One of the items features interviews with passers-by in downtown London (again, Ontario, not England) being asked what they thought of John Lennon's comment to the effect that the Beatles were more popular than Jesus. To my surprise, while most people were dismissive of the idea, no one seemed to get upset about it, either. No one got into a lather or agreed that their records should be burned. The most extreme anyone got, if you can call it that, was the man who said there was nothing more important to him than "the Lord Jesus Christ". Equally surprising was the non-issue topless bathing suits turned out to be. Again, no one seemed to get exercised about the idea.

I would urge you to take ten or fifteen minutes and stroll down Memory Lane... even if that lane goes back further than your own memory (as is the case for me). If you're Ontarian, well, you paid for it. :) If you're Canadian, these are your people from a couple of generations ago. For everyone else, it's a chance to see what was important to southwestern Ontarians in the mid 20th Century, and maybe laugh up your sleeve at how quaint it all was.

My personal favourites:

● Old Grocery Ledger Discovered (the "high" prices of 1953 vs. 1897 will make you smile)

● Eleanor Roosevelt Dismisses the Notion of a Preventive War

● Lynne Harper Murdered - Stephen Truscott Arrested

● Increased Immigration Leads to the Opening of a New Court of Canadian Citizenship (watch for all the highly ironic Union Jacks)

● Small Businesses Challenge Lord's Day Act and Stay Open on Sunday
● Racial Discrimination in Housing Applications

● Minister Speaks out Against Sunday Movies (at the time, movies could not be shown in Ontario on Sunday)

● U.S. President John F. Kennedy Assassinated - Londoners React

● Londoners React to Worldwide Topless Swimsuit Craze
● Section of Uncompleted Highway 401 Dubbed Suicide Strip

● Computer at University of Western Ontario Creates Music
● Londoners travel to Ottawa and Selma Alabama in Support of the Civil Rights Movement

● Streeters React to Comments Made by John Lennon

[several pieces on the Centennial and EXPO 67] — highly revealing of a very special moment in Canadian history

● Trudeaumania Takes the Country by Storm and Sweeps Through Western Ontario

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