YouTubers help keep Winnipeg television history alive

Does “Teen Dance Party” or “Uncle Bob Swarts” bring back fond memories for you? What about “Chiller Thriller”, “Bo and His Buccaneers”, “Around the Country”, “Kids Bids”, “Cinema Six”, “Reach for the Top” or Gordon McLendon’s editorials? If you were a fan of these shows, or if you ever worked for CBWT, CJAY/CKY, KCND/CKND, 13 MTN or public access TV, share your memories and rants in the comments section or send me an e-mail at or

(Updated July 6, 2011)

Before consolidation started sweeping across the Canadian television industry in the ’90s, television was very much a local business. Many stations were locally owned, had a strong local branding strategy, and developed a loyal following in their communities.

Like the newspapers, a community’s TV stations were both a part of local history and eyewitnesses to it. Unlike newspapers, there were no practical means of creating a local television archive readily available to the public.

That’s beginning to change, however.

YouTube, the popular do-it-yourself broadcasting site, is home to a growing collection of television nostalgia retrieved from aging VHS and Betamax tapes that have been gathering dust for years.

The most prolific local collector of these bits of television history is RetroWinnipeg (a.k.a., Jason), who has been steadily building a valuable local television archive since launching his site in 2006. With clips dating back to 1979, his site is sure to bring back memories to those of us who grew up in the ’80s and ’90s.

RobAtSea also maintains a great archive of more than 400 videos, also dating back to the late ’70s. His collection comes from various TV markets across Canada and the U.S., but includes some network and local material that will look familiar to Winnipeggers.

Also be sure to check out jaworskij‘s archive of old footage from CBC, CKND and various Winnipeg cable channels, including the crazy old days of community access television when anyone with an idea — no matter how half-baked — could get themselves a prime-time television slot.

And if you grew up watching Archie and His Friends, the popular local children’s show that ran for years on CKY, you’ll enjoy seeing the late “Uncle Bob” Swartz again on two sites: Archiewood and the Bertminator‘s site.

If you or anyone you know has old video kicking around of local broadcasts from the ’50s, ’60s and ’70s, share it with the rest of us — especially if it’s from CJAY-TV (1960-73) or KCND-TV (1960-75), as even small bits of archival video from these stations would be considered a phenomenal find. There are a lot of Winnipeggers out there who would love to see it.

Winnipeg television history:A Sampler

c. 1980: Sisler High School faces off against River East Collegiate on the CBC Winnipeg game show, “Reach for the Top” (Source: keener32)


1983: Sylvia Kuzyk delivers an evening news update on CKY-TV, looking a bit tired or perhaps subdued. Followed by a commercial for K-Tel. (Source: RetroWinnipegTV)

1986: CKY’s Gloria Lowen anchors the Sunday late night news, followed by Rod Black’s Sports Sunday. Includes commercials from the era and a look at the weather.  (Source: RetroWinnipegTV)

’80s: Commercial for Eaton Place (now Cityplace) Shopping Centre. It was once a fairly popular and successful mall, as difficult as that might be to believe! (Source: RetroWinnipeg)   

1980: CKND promo for a cheesy disaster movie called “The Plutonium Incident”. And if that’s not your cup of tea, there’s always the sentimental drama, “To Race the Wind” (Source: RetroWinnipeg

1988: It’s time for the weather on 13 MTN with meteorologist Ron Thompson. Thompson was based at sister station CKX Brandon, and delivered his forecasts on MTN using a (then) state-of-the-art reversible microwave relay link. (Source: jaworskij


Late ’80s: At one time, virtually anyone could get their own program started on Winnipeg’s community access channel, which aired on cable channel 13 from 1975 to 1986 and channel 11 from 1986 to 2006. Little did Myrna and Henrietta Neudorf know that their appearance on the channel, singing “Go Tell It On the Mountain” would eventually become a worldwide YouTube hit. (Source: drbpony

Late ’80s: More community access programming. What the hell?!   (Source: drbpony

1960 or 1961: A locally produced game show called “Lucky Seven” on CJAY Winnipeg, hosted by Al Johnson and sponsored by Old Dutch Potato Chips (Source: Archiewood)

c. ’60s or early to mid-’70s: The legendary Bob Swarts was fond of bringing a menagerie of animals on to his daily children’s show — some of which provided moments of hilarity for adults as well. Some of this video might date back to the CJAY days. (Source: Bertminator)

1974: Audio recording of a local public service announcement on KCND-TV, promoting the Cavalier County Hospital Benefit Dance in Langdon, N.D. TonyHill55414’s YouTube channel contains the only known surviving recordings from the former Pembina station. (Source: tonyhill55414)

1979: Polo Park, as it looked 30 years ago (Source: RetroWinnipeg)

1985: A promo for CKY News about a problem that is still with us 24 years later, followed by a very `80s opening to WDAZ Grand Forks’s 10 p.m. newscast. Kathryn Bursch is still working as a journalist at a Florida station, Jack Sand is now a magician and comedian for hire, and Dan Clites is now a reverend at a church in Minnesota. (Source: PsychoJason)

1987: CBC’s 24 Hours newscast, covering the opening of Portage Place — an effort at downtown revitalization that would later be regretted as a mistake. (Source: jaworskij)

c. Mid-’90s: MTN Pulse News update, with anchor Tom Njegovan (a.k.a. Tom Negovan) being upstaged by some guy with a bottle on his head! Njegovan has done well in his career, having moved on from Portage la Prairie to a much more prestigious job at WGN-TV in Chicago.  (Source: dsnitris2007)