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Throwback Thursday: The Forest Rangers Turn 50

-- CBC Still Photo Collection

Before he was terrorizing the Republic of Doyle - and before he became a venerable legend of the Canadian theatre, for that matter - Gordon Pinsent starred as mountie Sergeant Scott on CBC kids' adventure series The Forest Rangers.

That was 50 years ago, and the role was Pinsent's first major television gig - while the program itself marked several firsts for CBC itself: it was the first Canadian show taped in colour, for instance.

(And though we can't confirm it, it was the first, and possibly only CBC children's program wherein a prize-fighter boxes a bear. And leprechauns are spotted in a national park.)

To mark the show's 50th anniversary, Pinsent - along with nine of the show's now senior citizen "Junior Rangers" - will be appearing Saturday, June 15 at the same Kleinburg, Ontario film studio where the program was taped. From noon 'til 4 p.m. the cast will gather at Cinespace Film Studios, and fans are welcome to attend.

That includes brand-new fans, too - people who maybe didn't know the Forest Rangers existed before reading this Throwback Thursday post. (Hello!)

(Though the 1963-1965 series lived in reruns for 45 years on various networks around the world, modern "CBC Kids" haven't been treated to these backwoods adventures. Luckily, there's now this thing called YouTube...)

Set in a fictional Nortern Ontario village called Indian River, The Forest Rangers followed a crew of plucky youngsters - or "junior rangers" - as they got up to wholesome hijincks in the outdoors: putting out forest fires, helping neighbours, hanging out with an unsettling number of escaped ex-cons...or the occasional ghost.

(Heartland should be taking notes.)

Watch The Forest Rangers' opening credits for a taste:

And check out photos from the CBC Still Photo Collection:

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