Government of Ontario     |    

Ministry of
Government and Consumer Services

Setting the Stage:

CFPL News Images and title screens

In the early 1950s Ontario was a very different place than it is today. Canada was emerging from the effects of the Second World War. The baby boom was gathering momentum and that was motivating a building boom.

We played host to a new Queen at the same time the world was growing nervous with the onset of the cold war and the new fear of nuclear weapons. The space race was about to begin, as was the cultural revolution of the sixties. Major events were shaping and changing the province in dramatic and far-reaching ways: Hurricane Hazel; the Avro Arrow; the opening of the St. Lawrence Seaway and the construction of highway 401, were some of the big events that made news at the time.


In the early 1950s, television was a new medium and wasn't very well understood. Watch the video below to learn about the accepted wisdom for viewing it safely.

And, unlike any generation that came before, people were learning about these events through the new medium of television. Television was in its infancy in 1953 and was just starting to become a fixture in most homes. There was even concern about its safety as seen in the video clip to the right.

It is often the smaller stories that have a greater direct impact on a community and these are the types of events captured by the CFPL news cameras. While by their very nature, many of these “newsworthy” stories focus on ordinary people in extraordinary situations the stage on which they unfolded was no different than many other communities across the province at the time. And, in that way, they provide us with a reflection of ourselves a couple of generations ago.

Montage of CFPL Images

National and International News Stories of 1953:

  • In-patient treatment is believed to be the only way to manage tuberculosis throughout the first half of the 20th Century and the age of sanatoria in Canada peaks with the 19,000 patient beds, up from 9,000 in 1938.

  • Through the fall and winter of 1953-54, large bottles of the poliovirus are sent in station wagons from Toronto to drug companies in Detroit and Indianapolis to help in the production of vaccine to help control the Canadian epidemic.

  • James Watson and Francis Crick discover the three-dimensional structure of DNA: a double helix.

  • New Zealander Edmund Hillary and sherpa Tenzing Norgay are the first to reach the summit of Mount Everest.

  • Joseph Stalin Dies. It is announced: "The heart of the comrade-in-arms and continuer of genius of Lenin's cause, of the wise leader and teacher of the Communist Party and the Soviet Union, has ceased to beat."

  • On June 19 Julius and Ethel Rosenberg's, who had been found guilty of relaying U.S. military secrets to the Soviets, were executed. They were the first U.S. civilians to be sentenced to death for espionage.

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Story Citations:

Film footage

The 1953 Television Newsreel - Year End Show 1953 (excerpts)
black and white 16mm motion picture film, silent and sound
Reference Code: F 4396-2-1-1
Archives of Ontario


The 1953 Television Newsreel - Year End Show 1953 (excerpts)
news script
Reference Code: F 4396-2-2
Archives of Ontario

« J'aime bien l'idée du long voyage qui se presente ù nous et du perpétuel changement de paysage qui cela nous procurera. »

- 15 mars 1792