Wednesday, April 17, 2024

Canadian TV Shows

On Peter Mansbridge's podcast the other day, he asked people to write in with their favourite Canadian TV shows. It brought back lots of memories for me as I grew up without cable until I was in Grade 6 (I think) so my only choice of television was Canadian content, and I am grateful for that. 

Some of the ones that stood out for me on that list:

Mr. Dressup - Casey and Finnigan were Mr. Dressup's friends when I started watching. I loved that he always had exactly the art supplies and costumes he needed, and that he made drawing look so easy. What a Canadian treasure. 

Fred Penner's Place - Another one of those weekday morning staples. Fred crawled through the log and then he was in this special part of the forest where his guitar was hidden and Word Bird showed up each day. I once saw Fred Penner at the airport, it was a highlight of the trip!

Polka Dot Door - This was actually on TV Ontario so I only remember this from before we moved to Nova Scotia when I was four. Polkeroo is still a reference I make. He was a character that was only ever around when the kids were there, but no adults. And then when the adults came back, Polkeroo was gone. So the reference is sort of like when someone is elusive. 

North of 60 - This was a one hour drama series, taking place in a fictional Dene First Nation (north of the 60th parallel).  The main characters were the RCMP officers - one white man, and one local Dene woman, and the various people that lived in the town. It was ahead of its time I think, and something that I didn't quite appreciate at the time was that it featured indigenous actors as real people, not just stereotype roles.

Wok with Yan - This is an obscure one, but I loved it. Chef Yan cooked up lots of good stuff in his wok, and he always had a new apron with a funny wok pun.

Street Legal - I could credit this program for my career, as I watched it when I was very young.  It was actually set in a law firm in Toronto.  They seemed so glamourous in their '80s and early '90s power suits. I think they mostly did trial work (which I do not do), but something likely inspired me.

Anne of Green Gables - This was a made for TV movie (and then it had a sequel) and I watched it so many times.  It was just perfect, the setting, the cast, the puffed sleeves, Matthew!! Anne with an E was pretty good, but nothing beats Kevin Sullivan's production. And then of course Road to Avonlea was a weekly Sunday night staple.

Much Music - This was our version of MTV, but it was actually mostly music videos even up until I graduated high school (in 1999).  Tuning into the Countdown on Friday night was a highlight of our weekends.  

The Red Green Show - This was on every day after school so I watched it a lot. It was always funny and had some great catch lines "If the women don't find you handsome, they should at least find you handy." and the Man Prayer "I'm a man, I can change, if I have to, I guess". Brilliant stuff.

And some honourable mentions - Danger Bay, The Friendly Giant, Degrassi High (pre-Drake), and The Raccoons.

I know I'm missing some, but it was fun to take a walk down memory lane. What Canadian shows do you remember?


  1. Mr Dressup, The Friendly Giant, DeGrassi Jr High (for sure!!!), and tuning into to Much Music on Fridays. And of course, Kevin Sullivan's Anne of Green Gables. The Beachcombers was also a big one for me but I don't even remember what it was about - hahahaha! And yes, I grew up on Canadian television since we only had three channels and one of them was the French one.

  2. I remember Degrassi Junior High and the other Degrassi shows! They were the best and I have wonderful memories of watching them with my mum.

  3. The Littlest Hobo!