My friend and I were reminicing about Kitchener TV and the Scan news show we watched when we were young (1970s) – the anchor wore a red jacket every night. I think it was Larry McIntyre, who was also “Larry-O” – the fill in kids show host when Big Al was away. Any pictures of Larry in those days?
What a neat tribute! I think I was 10 (1984) when I sang on Big Al’s Talent Showcase. I’d love it if I could see that show! My name at the time was Patricia Erskine, from Etobicoke Ontario. I forgot my sheet music and had to sing unaccompanied. Thanks kindly, Patti Young, Cambridge Ontario
I believe you have made a mistake. In the time capsule under 1958, and in a photo, you have listed Fran Pappert as being the host of Romper room. Fran was the host after Betty Thompson.
Fran was my neighbour up until last year, (2018) and is no where near old enough to be the host of
Romper Room in 1958. Unless there were 2 Fran Papperts.
Thanks a lot Carolyn for pointing me at that error. There’s so much more that is wrong with that paragraph written before I took over the website. I will review and edit it.
I had so much fun on Canadian Bandstand, i seen my self with freinds on the video you had posted in 1974. If there is a way for me too get this could you please e-mail it to myself or send the video to me on my face book. Thank you for the memories!!!
Hi Teresa – I’m thrilled that you recognized a younger version of yourself in this video – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fGvDVoWv6tI. Depending on what you use for your web browser (Firefox, IE or Chrome) there are a number of add-ons that allow you to download video from Youtube (eg. SaveFrom.net or DownloadHelper).
What became of Tom of Uncle Toms Club circa 1955 56 ?
P.S. Tom Rafferty just came to me. I had a T shirt and went on the show all of 7 or 8 years old ! Thank you
In the early 60s I went to Sacred Heart School in Kitchener and remember very well running off to be in the audience of the Big Al show. When it was over we would be able to pick from a selection of Dairy Queen products. I always picked the Dilly Bar.
Couldn’t find any mention of my Dad in your site. Rick Smith, Sarnia Office.
To answer a viewers question. “What happened to George Hewitt?” ….Well OPEN ROADS the TV SHOW, was a ground breaker in many ways right from the first day, mid 1970’s, that Don Wilcox signed the ‘Ol Cowboy and gave me full control and a wide range to bring my cowboy real life adventures to CKCO TV,
Early 1980’s Molson and CBC signed me to do a second weekly program from Windsor Raceway live every Thursday night. I left that as a top rated show after two years. I just did not have the time to do both series plus the TV commercials I was ask to do and I was still involved in Announcing Rodeo and other sporting events.
About the early 1980’s Disney took an interest in me and I agreed to do 3 programs with the Disney Television crew in the USA. In 1998 I was recruited as a member of the Opening Team for Walt Disney’s Animal Kingdom. I stayed with Disney for three years. also as a photographer.
CKCO days. In 1986 I took OPEN ROADS into syndication and was viewed in over 300 markets world wide including the Canadian Armed Forces and ships at sea.
Memories were fond and many over those years. I still talk to Don Wilcox once in awhile and I mention him in the first of two auto biographies I have written about my life and adventures titled “KEEP SPURRING ’til the WHISTLE BLOWS” and “KEEP SPURRING the Sequel” and to quote Don Wilcox “What a wild ride they are.” The books have received rave reviews and a movie offer is being considered.
Present days 2016, at 80 years I’m alive and still kicking. Well honestly the kicks are not nearly as high or as hard as they were way back in the 1970/80’s.
Old RODEO injuries combined with many more horse or hockey related injuries over my life, have followed me and remain an every day reminder of what the life of a rodeo cowboy and of course the breaking and training of horses and my other dangerous adventures can do to the human body.
So thanks for the memories and — So next time some one asks what has happened to George Hewitt you can give the answer…
Until next Time—— I’m George Hewitt. still traveling down the OPEN ROADS…..
Hi George – we didn’t save much of your videos over the years but I did come across this gem of yours – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hhs1XkuIfac
CKCO was really a fun time in my life…….now at 83 years with over 75 broken bones and several concussions the price I paid to follow my life style. CKCO, Rodeo, Harness Racing, and my many dangerous adventures travelling half way around the world are now just memories. My two books “Keep Spurring ’til the Whistle Blows” and “Keep Spurring the Sequel” my autobiography contain these true life adventures and draw you into my life, good and bad times all of these adventures clearly supported with documents and more than enough photos to keep you interested, and wanting more.
Harness Racing in the 1970’s and my involvement as a driver/trainer setting track records and establishing new life time records for countless horses on both sides of the border. eventually led to my life being threatened by the mafia. The wise guys were trying to control the outcome of horse racing. A phone call, from a bad guy warning me that if I drove my horses that night I would be shot.
I refused to play the game they the wise guys dictated as to who won or lost races. The RCMP learned of the threat they got involved and tried to convince me to not race until the bad guys were taken care of……
The Calgary Stampede have this past year 2018, obtained for their Historical Hall of fame, ten “OPEN ROADS” TV SHOWS that were broadcast around the world, plus more than a hundred raw footage tapes that I had shot, and used to produced these TV programs, the history of the Calgary Stampede Rodeo and Bucking horse breeding program.
For these and other adventures you will need to read my books to see if I survived…Oh did I mention the Gunfight at the All-right Corral……… The OK CORRAL name had been previously used way back when……….
I had the pleasure of moving George and his wife this morning. What a great sense of humour and the stories were wonderful. Thank you for the personalized and autographed book “keep spurring ‘TIL the whistle blows”
Sunparlour Movers Leamington Ontario
I was speaking with my day regarding the Big Al show and he mention he was on it for boxing in 1962. If you have any videos of tapings in that year I would love to go through them to see if I could find him. It would be a wonderful surprise to show him that I got it. Please let me know if you still have any! Thank you 🙂
Sorry Sharlene but the show was live and no copies of the show were ever kept.
Ron Roberts who was an announcer billed as “The Round Mound of Sound” died May 2015.
Came across this site as I was searching for information on the Silver Bar Ranch, as specifically the Wishing Well Dancers. My dad, Larry Pritchard, was one of the dancers. I have a great publicity photo of him, Garry Walters, and the other two guys (I don’t know their names). I was hoping to find more photos and history online. As I read the bit of history here I remembered the names my parents used to talk about. Thank you for this site.
My Dad, George Hewitt, had a show on CKCO for years called Open Roads….I was on Romper room when I was little.
I am trying to track down a high school classmate of mine: SKIP HAYBARGER, who was a camera man. Its regarding a 50th year reunion of high school. Any info appreciated.
I’m sorry I was no help in finding your friend Danny – http://ckco-history.com/master-control-gang-w/
Thanks Bob Tiffin for telling me about this site. Some great stuff. One show that I don’t see on the lists- was my show- ‘Backstage At The Centre (in the square)’ done in 1980- 81- 1 season of 26 shows- Lionel Shenken & Visual Productions was the producer. They wouldn’t do my show- unless I brought in a ‘reputable?’ producer. We shot at the Centre & at CKCO studios- interviews- clips from shows- original songs etc. We were on Sundays at 6:30 pm- replacing Walter Ostanek- for 1 season. I also appeared with Elaine Cole- Betty Thompson- Johnnie Walters- the news at noon- the local production of the Terry Fox telethon- (I was called & booked to appear on CTV- but then all the stars came out- & I was cancelled for the national production) I wrote a song- ‘So Little Time’ that was used by the Canadian Cancer Society- & I spent time with Terry Fox on the road. Looking forward to reading more good stuff here! Cheers! Randy Stewart Rollo
My dad, Jim Armstrong, was a reporter from 1977-1989 for CKCO covering Collingwood to Parry Sound (Southern Georgian Bay). I was 4 to 16 years old during this time, spent many of hours in his car traveling with him story to story. I had the opportunity to see all the side launches of ships in Collingwood, chasing politicians on the ski hills and many neat things and interesting people that many of my friends and classmates did not. And of course, the “middle of the night” phone calls for the various fires, car accidents, even a bomb threat! I remembered one of the most exciting things as a child was going with him to Kitchener to drop of important stories and getting to go into the Romper Room studio Tiny Talent and Oopsie’s studios. I remembered meeting Ron Johnson and watching them record “the splits” segments in the afternoon. The equipment that he had was something to laugh at now. He started with a film “reel to reel” hand held camera and went to the various VTR camera/video record units that had to weigh 200lbs once the battery belt was on for the light. For the more intense stories, my job was to run back and forth to the car for battery changes since the batteries only lasted 20 mins or so. The news units then for him (he was an independent) was a 1977 Ford Thunderbird and a 1981 Chevy Malibu.
Thanks for the memories Brent – your dad was a good man and I remember his reporting quite well – http://ckco-history.com/in-memory/jim-armstrong/
A good friend of mines’ dad did a guest apperance on Romper Room. … Dr. Weber, to talk to the kids about muscles. I would love to find out if there is archived episodes and where i can ge t a copy. If anyone could help point me in the right direction. I would be eternally grateful.
Sorry Kim but if it wasn’t recorded at home when it aired then it probably doesn’t exist anywhere else.
I just came across this memorial to my brother Mike. Thank you for such kind words. I know how much he loved working at CKCO.
Hi marlene! I have been trying to find you for years! Just recently heard about Mike and was shocked and so sorry!!! If you get this please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org Miss you! Love barb
Mike is still fondly remembered by those who worked with him Marlene – the guy had a twisted sense of humour http://ckco-history.com/in-memory/in-memory-michael-yaworski/
Just happened on the site. Sad seeing so many familiar names “in memory”. I retired from CBC Vancouver in ’97, and after many fine years in Banff, am now living in Victoria. Cheers to old friends !
what ever happened to george hewitt star of open roads series 1980’s at ckco tv?
Thanks for this site! I came upon this as I was looking for more BG material of Denis Faucon for a memorial site I run for shooters, sorry to see familiar names to add.
Coming out of Humber College’s Creative Cinematography course, in 1978, my first job (part time) was at CKCO. It was in the old building that I met Peter Ferguson. My first shoot was with a Bell & Howell 70 spring wind camera. I was sent on my own to cover a contracts talk meeting at Goodrich. A notepad and a B&H, 100′ of film. The receptionist at the front desk directed me to the meeting room. I entered a large room that had a lot of chairs, empty except for a long table at the front with some people around it. I took a seat, pretty well alone in this cavernous room. The people at the front wre arguing, I started taking notes..not knowing what was going on. I pulled the B&H up, wound and began to shoot. The B&H was known as a stealth camera, the loud whirring attracted the table peoples attention. One person came, asked who I was. I told him…his eyes went a little wide and he said “Son, this is a closed private meeting..you have to leave”. I was escorted out the building. I thought I was in trouble back in the newsroom. Ron Johnston, Gary McLaren and others laughed, it was a gag, no one thought I’d get in. Goodrich called to complain..so started my colourful career as a news shooter.At CKCO, many more experiences with a lot of good,fun people.
Only a few there I guess remember the film room floods!
I worked in broadcasting for almost 30 years, and with every station I worked in from Sault Ste Marie to eventually Toronto, you come across individuals, whom, if you could put in one newsroom, it would have no equal and I’m happy to say there would be several from CKCO. From 1976 to 1981 I had the pleasure to work with some real pros and some real characters in the CKCO newsroom. Gary McLaren as an assignment editor taught me about what makes a good news story…. fairness, accuracy and balance. The late Jim Mercer was a superior cameraman with a great eye and a nose for news and he knew more places outside of KW that served coffee and cherry pie than anyone I know. Bruce Johnston has more integrity than any news reporter I have met. Bill Inkol could take a sports story from the Globe and Mail and read it out of the paper live every morning and make it sound like it was written for broadcast. (Bill seldom rewrote news copy, it interfered with his morning coffee!) There were many in that newsroom during that five years like myself who went on to bigger things in major markets such as Paul Brent, Paul DeCorcy, John Jackson, John Johnston, Paul Freer, Kelly Crowe, Dave Gerry, Leslie Jones, Jeff Hutchinson to name just a few.
We were given the freedom to experiment, expand our horizons and if we got too far afield, Gary McLaren would reign you in and tell you how to improve…it provided a firm foundation for your broadcast future. You were also allowed to let your sense of humour show at least once a year during the Christmas party film. I once placed dry ice in the coffee cups in the cafeteria, and when Milly poured in the coffee, they foamed like a scene from the Adam’s Family…it was the only time they allowed me to produce the party film. It was a great ride, red jackets and all, thanks for the memories!
Thanks for the great work….so many memories ….so many great people…..I was so happy to be a small part of CKCO and its many talented people…… I have some photos you may be interested…….. one of the original Tree House crew…..
There was a time I walked into a room and was the youngest one present. Now just the reverse is true. Thank you for the memories and moments of reflection, on all the wonderful people I had the opportunity to work with at one time or another. It was a good time. Just how good I can only appreciate now. The next generation of broadcasters can only imagine!
Hi, Thanks for the walk down memory lane. Some 43 years ago a friend and I approached Big Al after one of his shows and asked if we could do book reports on his show … he looked at me and said we will see. A couple of weeks later I approached him again and said ok let’s try it but you better read the books.
My friend and I stumble through it on Fridays … eventually we were tired of ready and was let off the hook, shortly after that the Kitchener Library started doing the book reports … we were so proud that we started the ball rolling but were even more grateful that we were done all that reading.
Thanks to Big Al etc.
I stumbled across your web site last night and nosed around a bit.
I was pleased to see a few pictures of my old friend Dennis Connolly. I sang in the church choir at St. Mark’s for 14 years with Dennis.
He was a fine man and had a fine voice. I told him many times that he could have made a living with his voice, but of course he was too humble to admit that it may have been true.
As a life-long resident of Kitchener I remember a lot of what I saw on various pages. Two of my most vivid memories were watching hockey on the old black and white (where’s the puck? Is that the puck or is it snow?), and watching The Flying Doctor.
Thanks for the trip down memory lane. I’ll be back to take a better look when I get a chance.
I remember, and always shall, the day I was acting as the Boom man! I was working as an Engineering secretary under Paul Turchen (pardon the spelling of his name). Nevertheless I did as most of us tried to do, that was to broaden our experiences in all areas of television. So from time to time I’d slip in and do Audio control in the morning and then I promoted myself to Boom operator.
This memorable day I was “booming” for Elaine Cole, on the Elaine Cole Show when someone came out of News during an intermission and told all of us that “President Kennedy had been assassinated “.
In shock and speechless, we all went on and did the show and the guests that day were valiant under the circumstances.
Regards to all and thanks for creating my treasured memories of our great CKCO station and family.
In 1967 I was the features and fashion writer at the Kitchener-Waterloo Record and a member of the swont Press Club. Because of the “revolution” in the music and fashion world, the club decided that its next big shindig would be more modern and I was roped in by Frances Denney (my editor) to put together some entertainment to go with the pigs’ ears. (I loved it. I probably would have begged to do it.)
There was a fellow with a mod clothing store in waterloo, Ross Litwiller, whom I hired to put on a fashion show. He also knew some people who were doing body painting. So to advertise this upcoming event, I went on the Elaine Cole show with a motley gang of hairdressers, dress designers, and a girl in a bikini, who was body painted on Elaine’s show and which – I was told – was a first in that people generally appeared on Elaine’s show dressed.
That episode had a huge viewership and we sold out tickets to the event PDQ.
Not only did I find the picture, I found the letter that went with it that ought to give you a bit of a laugh.
As a young fellow I remember sending in my birthday announcement to big Al to read on air, then your name was entered into a draw for a conestoga chuck wagon much like the ckco horse and wagon in the call letters.
I won one of those wagons, I wish I still had it today
I was wondering if you would have a picture of the wagon and horses, I love to have one if you do .
I have just spent the last few days reminiscing about my wonderful (musical) times with Pat. He was such an amazing pianist – from the early days at CKCO with Elaine Cole, Betty Thompson and countless others. It brought me back to the summer I spent performing in Muskoka in 1978 when I would sit with my six month old son David – watching Horoscope Dollars with Johnny Walters and his dedicated side kick – Pat! “Two More, Two More!” Those two cracked me up! Such fun times and wonderful memories.
It sure is fun to look back and to know that I was once a small part of CKCO’s history.
Cathy Menard – jazz singer/bee/bear
Growing up in the 50’s, my favourite programme was hosted by Big Al then each time I would get up to the Kitchener area (I live in Raleigh, N.C. and teach at N. C. State University) I would watch the news as much as I could. Oh those jackets people wore! Please continue to add pictures to your site.
Thanks for the memories.
This is a fantastic site. I left Kitchener for the Navy in October 1984 and this brings back great memories. I was on Big Al’s Saturday jamboree many years ago (I think that was what it was called). I remember running home for lunch from Forest Hill School and watching him and the cartoons. I also remember the red jackets the news guys wore. Better styles now but it is still good to see Dave Macdonald doing the weather.
I watch Canada AM regularly and it is good to see Jeff there and I still remember him, Bill Inkol and Wayne Kooyman doing the sports.
Petty Officer First Class Ken Voelzing
It seems like light years ago yet the memories live on. I recall rushing home during lunch hour to catch Big Al’s Ranch Party and the Flintstone’s after school. The theme song from Dodo the Kid from Outer Space is imbedded in my head forever, and flashing the middle finger as an audience member on Bowling for Dollars and later seeing it aired on CKCO Television is still considered a personal highlight of rebellious behaviour to this day! I also miss shopping at the Hiway Market!
I was ecstatic to finally find a website for CKCO. In 1971/2 our high school I.D.C.I. won the chance to appear on Canadian Bandstand. It is one memory I will never forget. I would love to find out about getting footage/photo’s, my children would get a real hoot and it would be an amazing time capsule. Unfortunately I can’t remember the exact date but I can remember what I wore, retro flashback; red plaid plazzaro pants, amber long sleeved unisex ribbed shirt and Wedgies! To this day I still have the album I won “Uriah Heap – Magicians Birthday” in a spotlight dance contest. Oh and very long hair!
I look forward to seeing the guest book grow as people search out memories from the past.
I remember live wrestling at the King Street studio in the late 50’s, early 60’s.
My father would take me to watch, I was approximately 7 to 11 years old.
Many years ago (the early 1960s), when I was a youngster living in Brantford, I used to cycle home to catch the Big Al Show, with the Three Stooges, Daffy, Elmer Fudd, and all the rest of the characters on Channel 13. In those days we only got 6 of the 12 available TV stations. Many times over the years I’ve thought back to those wonderful simplistic days, though in the meantime travelling much of the world and doing a lot of different things.
Yesterday, sitting in my office in London, England, I keyed in a few things on the Internet, and noticed that Big Al was actually Elwood Jones. From pictures I saw of his convertible, he seems to have been quite the character. Do you have a biography of him, showing the years he was Big Al, and what happened to him? When did he pass on? Watching him on CKCO seems like only yesterday — when it was actually more than 45 years ago! I don’t know what TV stations there are now, but the TV stations we used to receive were CBS, ABC and NBC, all from Buffalo, CHCH from Hamilton, CBC from Toronto, and CKCO from Kitchener. Big Al’s TV period would have overlapped with sitting there in Brantford watching Walter Cronkite report from Dallas in November 1963. Memories so ingrained that they never go away. I can forget where I was a month ago, but memories of half a century ago are very much alive!!
16 St Anns Villas
London W11 4RS
P.S. Looking on the Internet brought back other people from CKCO, such as the newsman from 1957 to the 1980s (Gary McLaren?). I can remember him as a young man with a thin face and dark hair. Haven’t thought of him in years. Elaine Calley’s TV show on CHCH (Calling Calley?) came to mind the other day. I used to work the night shift at Massey-Ferguson’s foundry in Brantford in the early 1970s, earning money for law school. I wonder what happened to all of the wonderful people who used to be on TV in southern Ontario. (I remember reading about a decade ago that Chuck Healy on WBEN in Buffalo, who headed the Saturday bowling show, passed on.) When you are a youngster, you somehow think that these people will never get old!
Not sure who I should thank but this stuff is incredible!!! We moved here from Sudbury in ’64 and KW has been home since then. I love anything to do with the history of this area, always looking for pictures or articles and as usual, stumbled upon the CKCO info surfing the net.
Thank you so much for , as my wife says, “Another Trip Down Memory Frickin’ Lane”!!
Best Regards, Harvey “Frenchy” Bellefeuille
P.S. – My brother Rick owns Twin-City Trophies , my Dad retired from the Separate School Board and I did my growing up in Downtown Waterloo, right across from Harmony Lunch.
Yo to all .. with thanks for John Donahue’s phone call alerting me to the site .. lotsa interesting stuff (read ‘memories and memorabilia’) here, and, yes, I have some photos that I shall scan, along with some further names and notes that I shall forward .. in the meantime, all best, eh ..
CKCO 1959-1971, and fill-ins after that!
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