Rewind 75th- Celebrations

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The first of twelve special programs that celebrate the 75th birthday of the CBC. Michael Enright is joined by Carol Off, host of As it Happens, as they look at- what else? Celebrations. 

You'll hear sounds from Parliament Hill in 1927 as Canadians celebrated the Diamond Jubilee of the country, a song written for the Dionne Quintuplets in 1934, the Queen and Prime Minister John Diefenbaker in conversation as a transatlantic cable was launched to link Commonwealth countries, Expo 67, the birth of Nunavut- and many more occasions where we came together to celebrate!   

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Clip #1 The first coast-to-coast radio broadcast in North America from July 1, 1927. The occasion was the Diamond Jubilee of Canada. It was Canada's Diamond Jubilee and telegraph and telephone companies and 23 radio stations forged a nationwide link to broadcast speeches, songs, poems and the peals of the carillon bells live from Ottawa.

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Clip #2  On May 28, 1934, all Canada celebrated when five identical girls were born to in Callander, Ontario. The five sisters - Annette, Cecile, Yvonne, Marie and Émilie - become known as the Dionne quintuplets. Against all expectations, they survived their first weeks. Shortly after, Burt Austin sang "Quintuplet's Lullaby" on CKY, Winnipeg.

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Clip #3  In 1935 there was another jubilee- this time to honour 25th anniversary of King George the 5th's coronation. And CBC Radio was delighted to celebrate with a chain broadcast of various bands performing "The Maple Leaf Forever."

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Clip #4  That chain broadcast was so popular that we decided to do it again. It was December 1936, the CBC had been officially launched just the month before, and so for the CBC's first ever Christmas broadcast, choirs and bands performed.

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Clip #5  On November 2, 1936 CBC had a lot to celebrate, because CBC was now official. The first chair of CBC, Leonard Brockington had words of welcome for all Canadians.

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Clip #6 In 1937, there was a new king as Edward declared his love for a divorced woman, which meant he had to abdicate the throne. King George the 6th was crowned that summer and then two years later, in 1939, King George and Queen Elizabeth toured Canada to an enthusiastic reception, with Canadians following their every move.

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Clip #7  Just a few months after the Royal couple left Canada, Europe was at war and there wasn't a lot to celebrate- especially in the early days. But there were still fun to be had at home. This is from 1944 at a county fair in Brampton, Ontario.

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Clip #8  And then after almost six long years, the war in Europe was over. There were VE celebrations throughout the country in May 1945.

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Clip #9  All of Canada celebrated as Newfoundland joined Confederation and became our tenth province one minute before midnight on March 31, 1949. The Dominion now spanned seven time zones and nearly 6,000 kilometres. Rumour has it that officials brought the province into Confederation exactly when it did to avoid the union being considered an April Fool's joke.The clip is from April 1, 1949 and a special program called "Welcome to Newfoundland."

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Clip #10  And in 1953 there were more Royal celebrations, when Elizabeth the Second was crowned. Matthew Halton had become well known to CBC Radio listeners with his passionate and thoughtful war coverage.

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Clip #11  In September 1954, 16-year-old Marilyn Bell became a Canadian heroine for becoming the first person to swim the 51 kilometres across Lake Ontario. It took her 20 hours and 59 minutes in numbingly cold water while she fought off lamprey eels and powerful winds.

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Clip #12  In 1957 Lester Pearson, diplomat, former minister of external affairs and future prime minister of Canada, won the Nobel Peace Prize. A year earlier, during the Suez Canal crisis, he had proposed the creation of a United Nations peacekeeping force that helped quell a budding war in the region.

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Clip #13  In 1961 the Queen and Prime Minister John Diefenbaker officially launched a transatlantic cable to be used as a link joining Commonwealth nations.

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Clip #14  The Trans Canada Highway, which would link Canadians on the ground, was officially opened less than a year later, in September 1962. And what better way to travel across the country to see some of our famed festivals and attractions? We visit the Calgary Stampede.

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Clip #15  For its first 97 years of existence, Canada's flag was the Canadian Red Ensign, which had been modelled after a British naval flag. And every time there were suggestions to replace it, there was controversy. In 1964 Prime Minister Lester Pearson said he'd introduce a new national flag. There was much debate and many designs, but finally in 1965, the red and white flag with the maple leaf became Canada's symbol. Governor General Vincent Massey solemnly made the transition from the old to the new.

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Clip #16  And then just a couple of years later, Centennial year- an outpouring of pride and patriotism that marked Canada's 100th year. The CBC commissioned Gordon Lightfoot to write a song of commemoration- he came up with the Canadian Railroad Trilogy. It seemed that every city and town had its own events to help celebrate- and the biggest of them all was Expo 67- the world's fair held in Montreal in the summer of that year. 

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Clip #17  In 1980 a young man called Terry Fox was in St. John's, Newfoundland preparing to start a run across Canada. Sure, people had run marathons before, but never by someone with one leg. Terry wanted to raise money for cancer research. There was a lot of road to travel, and heartbreak ahead, but at this point in April 1980, it was nothing but anticipation.

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Clip #18  On April 1, 1999 Canada gained a new territory called Nunavut. On that night, the northern lights appeared in the sky and provided just enough light for snowmobilers travelling to the celebrations. Mushers with their wailing huskies watched the spectacle from the bay.    

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