CBC Digital Archives

Marketplace: The godfather of the consumer movement

Shoddy products and shady businesses: these were the enemies of CBC-TV's Marketplace, a half-hour program that stood up for the Canadian consumer. Beginning in 1972, Stompin' Tom Connors sang the theme as hosts Joan Watson and George Finstad presented a lively parade of product tests, safety alerts and money advice. CBC Digital Archives presents full episodes from 1974 and 1975, a period when Marketplace regularly drew over 1.7 million weekly viewers.

In a marketplace that offers a choice in almost every product, how do you know which is best? For Frederick J. Schlink, a pioneering consumer advocate, the answer is consumer research: a methodical way of lab-testing everyday goods. He's the publisher of a magazine called, appropriately, Consumers' Research, and in this 1974 episode of Marketplace he shows host Joan Watson the tricks of his trade. The program also features rough-and-tumble kids putting blue jeans to the test and an item on shady movers. 
• In 1927 Frederick Schlink and his partner Stuart Chase founded the Consumers' Club with 300 members. Four years later they became Consumers' Research.

• Workers at the Consumers' Research lab, for which Schlink was president and technical director, attempted to unionize in 1935. When Schlink resisted their demands, they left to start the Consumers' Union and began publishing a rival magazine, Consumer Reports. As of 2008 the Consumers' Union is still active.

• From 1963 to 1993 Canada had its own consumer magazine, Canadian Consumer, published by the Consumers Association of Canada (CAC).

• The CAC was founded in 1947 as a non-profit organization with a mandate to "inform and educate consumers on marketplace issues, to advocate for consumers with government and industry, and work with government and industry to solve marketplace problems."

Medium: Television
Program: Marketplace
Broadcast Date: March 30, 1975
Guest(s): Larry Grant, John Greylis, Norma Nobles, Frederick J. Schlink, George Williams
Host: George Finstad, Joan Watson
Duration: 25:49

Last updated: February 2, 2012

Page consulted on December 5, 2013

All Clips from this Topic

Related Content

Too old to drive?

A look at whether elderly drivers should be forced to retire their keys.

Tim Hortons: Always fresh?

Teen correspondents for Street Cents investigate claims about coffee from Tim Hortons.

Ultrasound: is it safe?

Marketplace probes a popular new procedure for pregnant women.

Road safety: Introducing the air bag

Examining the safety of the soon-to-be compulsory safety feature known as the air bag.

A crushing consumer debt

in 1978, consumer debt tops $30 billion and record numbers of Canadians are going bankrupt.

Road Safety: The dream of a safer car

A small car company presents its ambitious new design for a safer future.