Television in Canada has been undervalued as a cultural form. Despite being publicly funded, Canadian television programs are also notoriously difficult to access once they go off the air, which has compounded the problem.
In What Television Remembers Jennifer VanderBurgh intervenes in the story of the medium in Canada by exploring the long relationship between TV and the city of Toronto. From the first demonstration of television at the Canadian National Exhibition in 1939 and the mass viewing of Queen Elizabeth II’s coronation broadcast in 1953 to the late-century installation of TV screens in public spaces around the city, television has shaped Toronto’s collective imagination and affirmed viewers in their multiple identities as local residents, national citizens, and transnational consumers. In a close reading of Toronto-based CBC dramas from the 1960s to 2010, VanderBurgh explains how the city has functioned as a strategic location in CBC programming, reflecting dramatically changing ideas about Canadian identity, community, and citizenship.
At a time when many are suggesting that the era of television is over, What Television Remembers sounds the alarm that we are in danger of forgetting TV in Canada without appreciating the complexities of its contributions and legacy.