CANPRO: The Canadian Television Program Festival

Following a TV program session at a Canadian Association of Broadcasters convention in Ottawa in the fall of 1972, realizing that local Canadian TV programming needed more exposure, Harold Crittenden, president of CKCK-TV Regina, suggested that General Manager, Bruce Cowie gather a group of TV station program managers to discuss the problem and find a solution. In the spring of 1973, Cowie and Crittenden hosted a meeting in Regina which resulted in the formation of the CanPro Television Program Festival, the first of which was held in Regina the following year.

The Founders Committee, as the original group came to be known, consisted of Hal Crittenden and Bruce Cowie, CKCK-TV, Regina; Bill Elliott BCTV, Vancouver; Wendell Wilks CFAC-TV Calgary; George Kidd CFRN-TV, Edmonton; Don Brinton CFQC-TV, Saskatoon; Jim Plant CFPL-TV, London; Lee Hambleton CFCF-TV, Montreal; Paul Chamberland CFCM-TV, Quebec City; Fred Sherratt CHUM Group and Ross McCreath All-Canada Television, Toronto.

Their two-day initial meeting provided the platform for the Festival. Its purpose was to bring together programmers to show their programs and discuss ideas, production problems and solutions – in short to share and improve local programming across the country. The Festival was designated to take place alternately in Western and Eastern Canada and to be held in all sizes of markets.

With the advent of portable VCR machines, the two-day seminars would have several viewing rooms where all submitted programs would be available for viewing, and those judged the best to be shown at the final Awards Dinner.

Beginning in 1974, CANPRO was held annually for 26 years, averaging over 300 program and promotion entries per year, almost 8,000 entries of local Canadian TV productions.

CANPRO History
1974Regina, Sask.Hal Crittenden/Bruce Cowie, CKCK-TV
1975London, Ont.Jim Plant, CFPL-TV
1976Saskatoon, Sask.Ted Eadinger, CFQC-TV
1977Quebec City, Que.Paul Chamberland, CFTM-TV
1978Winnipeg, Man.Jim Armstrong, CKY-TV
1979Hamilton, Ont.Frank Denardis, CHCH-TV
1980Trois Rivieres, Que.Robert Bonneau, CKTM-TV
1981Victoria, B.C.Bill Elliott, BCTV
1982Ottawa, Ont.John Beveridge, CJOH-TV
1983Halifax, N.S.Joe Irvine, CJCH-TV
1984Lethbridge, Alta.Fred Filthaut, CJLH-TV
1985Sherbrooke/Compton, Que.Alain Plante, CKSH-TV
1986Kitchener, Ont.Don Willcox, CKCO-TV
1987Edmonton, Alta.Wally Kirk, CITV
1988Regina, Sask.Mel Friesen, CKCK-TV
1989Sudbury, Ont.Bill Callender, CICI-TV (CKSO-TV)
1990Brandon, Man.Boyd Craig, CKX-TV
1991Trois Rivieres, Que.Robert Parent, CKTM-TV
1992London, Ont. Lorne Freed, CFPL-TV
1993St. John, N.B.Mel Johnston, CHSJ-TV
1994Saskatoon, Sask.Jerry MacLeod, CFQC-TV
1995Quebec City, Que.Jean-Pierre Pampalon, CFAP-TV
1996Victoria, B.C.Vito Dunford, CHEK-TV
1997Toronto, Ont.Global/Baton
1998Calgary, Alta.Brian Vos, CFCN-TV
1999Ottawa, Ont.Vince Pons, CJOH-TV

The last three years were under the umbrella of the Canadian Association of Broadcasters. CanPro had grown to the extent that it required full time staff to organize the Festival.

At the 1999 Festival, recognizing the developments that had taken place in television broadcasting in Canada over those years – among them the changes in ownership and the advent of many Specialty Channels, resulting in stations grouping themselves together to plan program production, it became apparent that there was no longer strong support for a CanPro meeting. CanPro came to an end. 1999’s CanPro Festival marked the finale of a very valuable project for the exchange of program ideas that had contributed greatly to the enhancement of Canadian television broadcasting during its formative years.

CanPro stands in Canadian broadcasting history as a tribute to its founders, and in particular Harold “Hal” Crittenden (1916 – 1979) and Bruce Cowie.

Ross McCreath – December, 2000