For years, Canadians have been able to watch episodes of iconic American classics such as “The Mary Tyler Moore Show,” “Batman” or “I Love Lucy.” But where was Canada’s TV heritage? Why was our homegrown fare always, after its initial run, locked away in a vault?
Well, “The Littlest Hobo” has finally been let out of his kennel. After years of development, the Canada Media Fund and Google Canada have teamed to launch encore+, a new YouTube channel giving viewers here and around the world access to decades of Canadian film and TV gold.
“We discovered that there are about 22,000 titles of Canadian content, financed by the public sector, that was not available to the public because it was stuck in analog,” said Canada Media Fund CEO Valerie Creighton, who first approached Telefilm’s Carolle Brabant with the idea five years ago.
“I still get calls every day at work: Where can I find ‘Mr. Dressup’? Where can I find ‘Littlest Hobo’?”
The idea, says Creighton, was to “take this iconic Canadian content that many of our stars of today started their careers in, and allow it to be seen by the public and the world.”
Some of those stars were at Tuesday’s launch of the YouTube channel, including Jennifer Dale, Sheila McCarthy, Henry Czerny, Aiden Devine, Pat Mastroianni, Michael Riley and John Wildman. They were thrilled that their work in shows such as “Da Vinci’s Inquest,” “Degrassi,” “Little Mosque on the Prairie,” “The Boys of St. Vincent” and “My American Cousin” are back.
Many of those actors could only see their early work on dusty VHS tapes or homemade digital transfers. Riley is thrilled to now be able to stream at least three shows in which he appeared, “This is Wonderland” “The Littlest Hobo” and ‘Due South.”
“With most Canadian projects,” said the actor, “you do them, they get that little airing window and then they disappear, never to be seen again. It’s kind of nice, after three decades in this business, to see a platform where there’s going to be a resurgence.”
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