Before Instagram…There Were These Influencers

A few years ago our household decided to do away with cable television, and just use subscription based services like Netflix, Amazon Prime, Crave, DAZN, and Apple TV. Since that time, the only thing I can honestly say that I’ve missed out on might be some of the sporting events, such as Formula 1, Nascar, and some Baseball.

Some of the best television shows that we’ve watched recently were all on these channels, and not on regular TV. With little to no commercials to interrupt us, and the freedom to watch when ever we like without having to set up a DVR or schedule something, why on earth would we go back? This all got me thinking back to when I was a kid growing up in rural Newfoundland, where only “townies” had the luxury of cable TV and we had just three basic TV channels to watch:

NTV (Newfoundland’s CTV), the CBC, and of course PBS.

Now yes, I was jealous of my friends who were busy watching endless cartoons on their cable networks, and later on watching Much Music and MTV, but when I think back to those TV shows that I truly loved as a kid, there are a couple that come to mind and which really sparked my desire to explore the outdoors. Here are a few that I remember, in no particular order:

THE BEACHCOMBERS

What red blooded Canadian kid didn’t watch (and love) this CBC classic series, set in the idyllic vista of Gibsons, British Columbia. The stories of Nick Addonidas, Jesse, Relic, Uncle Jesse, Molly and all the other characters scratching out a living on the west coast of Canada salvaging logs from the beaches were iconic pieces of Canadiana that sparked the imaginations and fantasies of many a school kid. Who wouldn’t want to roam the high seas, dueling with rivals over salvage or saving the life of of someone aboard having an allergic shellfish reaction using a Bic pen for a tracheotomy! Or the time that Jesse was trapped under a log, with the tide come in….or the numerous times Relic would jump his jet boat over something and live up to his reputation as the cranky and scheming nemesis of Nick! Or watching the Persephone cruising home to Gibsons after some epic adventure. This show came on at 8pm on Sundays….right before the Muppet Show. Man, I loved those nights. 20 seasons later and 374 episodes from 1972 to 2004 the door was finally shut to Molly’s Reach and the Beachcombers.

If you visit Gibsons, BC you can go to Molly’s Reach, and see the Persephone herself. I was lucky enough to visit while on a work trip a number of years back, and felt the nostalgia as strong as ever.

NEWFOUNDLAND OUTDOORS

Now this show was one of the first “reality” type shows that I remember watching. It was a fishing and hunting show hosted by Lloyd Colbourne and documented his adventures with his buddy Bryce Walsh. Again a CBC production, that ran from 1979 to 1995 and I absolutely loved this show, as did many Newfoundlanders. In a recent book published by Lloyd in 2019, he talks about the show and the fact that it was in fact so popular in his home province of Newfoundland that some fish processing plants actually let their staff leave work early on the nights it was to be aired so that they didn’t miss an episode.

Lloyd’s show took us moose hunting, grouse hunting, fishing, and who can remember all the adventures. But there was one line that has stuck with me all these years, and in fact today I still get a chuckle. Lloyd and Bryce would be in the middle of some epic adventure, and Lloyd would suddenly say “It was about this time that I suggested to Bryce that this would be a perfect time for a boil up”. Work would stop, the fire or camp stove would be lit, and coffee and snacks would be produced. I love me a good boil up, and I never pass up the opportunity to have one.

DANGER BAY

Ah yes…Danger Bay. Shot in Deep Cove BC on Indian Arm this show was the campy newcomer that tried to replace (in my opinion) the Beachcombers. The show was supposed to chronicle the life and adventures of a marine veterinarian Grant “Doc” Roberts and his children, Nicole and Jonah. The show was positioned as a wholesome family experience and almost always showed video of the Vancouver Aquarium in each show. It was shot was back in the day of course when the Aquarium still had captive Orcas on display which I am pleased to see is now a thing of the past.

The show itself was never a big hit for me, but what I did watch it for was the scenery and the boats. The kids had a small boat with an outboard that they would take out and often get into some sort of trouble, but all I saw was the vehicle to adventure! As a young boy my fascination with boats came very early and to imagine even the possibility of having my very own, with a motor none the less, kept me coming back for more. The show never did get legs under it like the Beachcombers did, and so after 123 episodes (still an accomplishment in today’s world) it finally ended after running from 1985 to 1990, again on the CBC.

LAND AND SEA

I’ve saved the longest running show for last. Land and Sea was a locally produced Canadian documentary show once again on CBC and which ran for an astounding 45 seasons. Heck…that’s longer than Survivor which is currently on it’s 41st!

Land and Sea was a great show because it was focused almost entirely on the Atlantic provinces, with a focus on Newfoundland and Labrador and ran from the 1960’s until the early 1990’s. I learnt a lot about the island I was born and raised on through this show, and perhaps I may have been just a nerdy kid but personally I liked it. It was on Land and Sea where I learned about the tradition of the Mummers, the fishing industry and decline, life in rural out ports, and many other stories and history of life not only in Newfoundland, but all over the Atlantic provinces. According to the official Land and Sea website:

For more than thirty years Land and Sea has brought you stories from people who live off the land and the sea. We cover issues that affect people in rural communities which ultimately affect those in cities as well.

We bring you stories from those who celebrate life living close to nature, who promote and protect their culture and traditional ways of doing things. There are stories of success and sometime failures that portray the unique way Atlantic Canadians deal with the challenges and pleasures of living on the east coast.

The show looks to have been revitalized, and episodes can be found online as recently as 2014. The influence that this who had on me as a kid was that it inspired me to get out and explore the land around me, and it fed my interest in nature and my home province. Being a Newfoundlander is something that never goes away from you as a person, even though I have now lived more years on Vancouver Island than I did growing up in Newfoundland. But I still remember how hard it was to leave, and looking over the rail from the ferry departing Port aux Basques and feeling heartbroken to leave my home province behind.

What is the point of all this you might ask? Why am I talking TV on my blog? The answer is simple really. These are some of the many influences that brought me to where I am today as a person, as a fisherman, a photographer, a nature nut and in some respects why I write on this blog. They fed my love for the outdoors, along with many other inputs and people, and although these shows would likely be met with laughter and mocking comments if I was to show them to my step sons today, they were great shows in their day. I guess my hope is that if someone comes across my little blog that they read one or maybe a few of the posts, and get inspired themselves. That perhaps the imagery and the humour I try to insert into my writing will bring a smile to their face, and some warmth to their heart. And if nothing else, help to distract them from the craziness, fear, and worry that COVID has thrown us into over this past year and a half.

Please enjoy – and I would love to hear from readers what your favourite childhood shows were that influenced your love for the outdoors! And here’s a little gem from me, filmed recently while warming up in the rain, and a tribute to Lloyd and Bryce.

One Comment on “Before Instagram…There Were These Influencers

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