CBC Television Network

Tenth Decade, The

Network: CBC Television Network

Broadcast Run: 1969 to 1970

Broadcast Medium: Television

Aired Wednesday nights from October 27 to December 22, 1971. Repeated Sunday nights in 1972 and during the summer of 1976.

This series of one-hour programs chronicled the history of Canada from 1957 to 1967, Canada’s Centennial year. It was produced by Cameron Graham, who had produced a couple of documentaries: one about John Diefenbaker called Hail and Farewell and the other about Pierre Eliot Trudeau called The Style is the Man Himself. This series offered viewers the most in-depth political history of Canada available at the time.

The Tenth Decade told the story of Canada’s two leading political opponents: John Diefenbaker and Lester Pearson. Diefenbaker led the Progressive Conservative Party, while Pearson led the Liberal Party. Both men served as Prime Minister between 1957 and 1968. Cameron and director Munroe Scott used archival news footage to tell the story, which was supplemented by interviews after the fact.


1] Prologue to Power introduced both Diefenbaker and Pearson and traced their backgrounds, ending with the June 1957 election that brought Diefenbaker’s Conservatives to power and ended the twenty-two years of Liberal domination in the House of Commons.

2] From Victory to Triumph took the Tories from the narrow margin of their first minority government to the landslide of March 1958, and outlined Pearson’s succession to the leadership of the Liberal Party after the resignation of Louis St. Laurent.

3] The Power and The Glory traced the four years of that government, and the return of the Conservatives to a minority status in the Commons in 1962.

4] Treason and Transition outlined the ten months of that fragile minority, marked by Diefenbaker’s anti-nuclear arms stance and the issue of the Bomarc missile, and the 1963 election that returned the Liberals to the government and made Pearson the Prime Minister.

5] Search for a Mandate concerned the Liberals’s efforts to build their political fortunes from a minority, but the period from one election to the next in 1965, also resulting in a minority, were marked by budget conflicts, the war in Vietnam, and domestic scandal.

6] In the next episode, No Joy in Heaven, the second Liberal government was plagued with such scandals as the Gerta Munsinger affair, and had to face the growing unrest in Qubec.

7] Celebration and Success dealt principally with the excitement over the Centennial in 1967, and not necessarily with the resignation of John Diefenbaker as head of the Progressive Conservative Party that same year.

8] The End of an Era covered Pearson’s resignation, to be succeeded by Pierre Trudeau, and a new political regime began with the 1968 defeat of the Conservatives under Robert Stanfield and the formation of a majority Liberal government.

The writing team included Ed Reid, Christopher Young, and Brian Nolan, and the commentary was spoken by actor Jon Granik. The music was composed by Larry Crosley. The research and shooting for The Tenth Decade led directly to two subsequent series produced by Graham: One Canadian, and First Person Singular, his television biographies of Diefenbaker and Pearson, respectively.

(See First Person Singular, One Canadian)

Written by John Corcelli – September, 2005