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Before They Were CBC Stars: Peter Mansbridge

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Peter Mansbridge in his early days at CBC Radio


Picture the scene: Churchill, Manitoba, 1968. At the airport, to be precise (fun fact: despite serving a town with a population less than 1,000, the airport can handle an aircraft up to the size of a Boeing 747). A 19 year old baggage handler fresh from the Royal Canadian Navy was, unexpectedly, asked to make an announcement over the public address system for Transair. A CBC executive just happened to be in the airport at that very moment and decided to hunt down the young baggage handler to ask him to work for CBC. All thanks to that (now trademark) voice.


Yes, that young baggage handler was one Peter Mansbridge. And that's how it all began for the man who has become the most trusted voice in Canada.


Let's go back to 1971. Since being 'discovered' Peter had been working at CBC Radio's northern service and subsequently moved to Winnipeg to report there. In 1972, he began reporting on CBC Television. Staying in 1971 though, Peter was out in the field and reported on a story about a land sale near Portage la Prairie. From the CBC Archives, this is one of the earliest known clips of Mansbridge in front of a camera, but it never actually made it to air:


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From there, it was up and up for Peter. After a stint in Saskatchewan, he headed to Ottawa to become a parliamentary correspondent for The National in 1976. By 1985, Peter was a trusted member of the CBC News team in Toronto, reporting on stories like Conrad Black's takeover of The Daily Telegraph. Why is Conrad Black relevant? We'll get to that.


Three years later, Knowlton Nash stepped down from his duties as chief correspondent and anchor of The National. Why? Mansbridge was in demand. He had been offered more money (and fame - something that doesn't matter to Peter, as he said in his Inside the News blog) in the USA. With Nash stepping aside, the offer came in for Peter to become CBC News' chief correspondent. The offer was accepted.


In 1999, a new weekly series was launched - Mansbridge: One on One. The first ever guest? One Conrad Black. Conrad joined Peter once more on One on One earlier this year to talk about the revelations that have arisen since they last spoke. Check out the first ever episode below:


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Along the way Peter has interviewed Prime Ministers of Canada and some of the world's most influential people. For example, Nobel peace prize winner and, oh, just the President of the United States of America, Barack Obama. But do you know the real moment when Peter Mansbridge became a true star of the CBC? When immortalised by Colin Mochrie on This Hour Has 22 Minutes:



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