12 Canadian Kids Shows You Grew Up Watching (And Still Secretly Love)
Look, it's Ryan Gosling!
If Canada is known for anything, it's definitely not it's media. Anytime you hear that a movie is Canadian, you pretty much mentally right it off as awful. Same goes for TV shows. Tshe production could be amazing, but we simply don't value our homegrown movies and shows. But it wasn't always like that.
When we were all younger, we used to spend hours watching so many kids shows made in Canada. Of course, we didn't really know they were made here, but a part of me likes to think that wouldn't have mattered anyway, because our collective devotion to Degrassi and ReBoot was (and continues to be) too strong.
In remembrance of the Canadian-made TV shows of our youth, I've taken the liberty of assembling twelve you definitely remember and probably still love. Don't be embarrassed, we all watched way too much of these shows, and there are plenty of YouTube links included so you can do so again.
Otherwise known as "the one with Ryan Gosling," Breaker High told the story of a group of teens on a high school-cruise ship combo, so basically the coolest school ever that we all wished we could go to. Plenty of angst and relationship drama was covered as the boat cruised the seas (this was a teen show in the 90s, after all), with plenty of bits of cultural ignorance and mild racism included as different nations were visited by the Breaker High boat. But best of all (obviously) is seeing Ryan Gosling play the gangly jokester, as he had yet to become the pinnacle of masculine beauty he is today.
Not exactly groundbreaking, Student Bodies was based around a bunch of kids in some random high school (which isn't real life, as the intro told us every episode) who were all worked on a newspaper together. Or something like that, the whole newspaper thing kind of fell to the wayside as the series continued, but despite the not-so-original concept (the school wasn't on a boat, after all), Student Bodies was still pretty legit. At least it was to ten-year-old me, who definitely had a crush on Romeo, easily the best looking person on the entire show.
Fun fact: Student bodies was produced in Montreal for the entirety of its run. And it wasn't even French, for shame.
When ReBoot first aired, it was the very first completely computer-animated show on televsion. So all of us who were 8 when it came out basically went nuts for the CGI graphics, even though some of the early episodes were pretty damn clunky-looking. Based on the adventures of programs in a computer (complete with tons of PC-puns), ReBoot was super original for its time. If you don't count Tron, that is, which I don't, because ReBoot was way more dynamic, if only for the crazy-awesomeness that was Hexadecimal. Plus, Bob was a total babe. Yes, it may be weird that I'm calling a computer-generated sprite hot, but hey, Dot was one lucky lady nonetheless.
ReBoot is even getting a reboot, all the more reason to bone up on your MainFrame history.
The Adventures of Shirley Holmes
Confession: I legit watched like three episodes of Shirley Holmes last week, and I have no regrets. Not only will you get to see Ryan Gosling in the first episode, you'll also be flooded with waves of nostalgia as soon as you hear the opening intro. Despite being way too nosey for her own good (seriously Shirley, mind your own business), the great grand-niece of Sherlock Holmes taught us how stupid adults can be and how badass it is to be smart, both being some seriously beneficial lessons for a kid to learn. Oh yeah, and then there's Shirley's sidekick/Watson stand-in Bo, who was in a gang when he was like 9. Canada can be rough, people.
Personally, I wasn't the biggest fan of Angela Anaconda (mostly because of the animation style) but that didn't stop hordes of Canadian kids from glueing their eyes to the TV whenever the show aired on Teletoon. Interestingly, Angela Anaconda was one of the few Canadian shows to get picked up south of the border, and actually become pretty popular, airing on Fox Kids for several years. And even though I wasn't a complete fan of Angela Anaconda's off-the-wall antics, even I can agree that Nanette Manoir was a complete b*tch.
In truth, Mr. Dressup predates a lot of us millennial Canadian kids, as it stopped producing new episodes in 1996, but for some older folks, Mr. D is a legend in the kids show world. First airing in 1967, Mr. Dressup is often cited as the Canadian Mr. Rogers, and they're actually just the same amount of creepy if you ask me. Well, actually, Mr. Dressup wasn't all that unsettling, but his horde of doll-friends definitely were.
Now, many of you may hold a special place in your heart for the Degrassi reboot The Next Generation, which began in 2001. But here, I'm talking about the truly old school Degrassi, otherwise known as Degrassi Junior High. Totally 80s in every singly way, DJH is super after-school-special and low budget in a very Canadian way, while also being entirely hilarious and entertaining. The show also wasn't shy about tackling some intense issues like homosexuality, AIDS, and teen pregnancy, all of which is pretty heavy for a show geared towards kids.
And yes, I'm aware The Kids of Degrassi Street predates Junior High, but the latter established the whole "school drama" setup we'd see throughout the other incarnations of the series.
Incredible Story Studios
Unlike most kids shows, Incredible Story Studios made us all feel like we could be a part of the program. If you remember, the entire premise of the show was based on young writers sending in scripts which were then produced on TV for all of us to watch. Sure, the stories were simplistic (at best) and the acting was laughably bad, but there was a certain level of charm to Incredible Story Studios. Hopefully all of the scripts were actually written by kids, because any adult who churned out "The Great Switcheroo" may want to assess their mental development.
Lets get this out of the way first: the notion of having a very BDSM-ish muscle dude named "The Punisher" spew "slime" all over kids is rife with creepily sexual subtext, but that's what Uh-Oh! was, and it was still pretty amazing. A game show made for and played by kids, Uh-Oh! was hosted by Wink Yahoo (and no, that isn't his real name) for a full five seasons, making it the 3rd longest running Canadian kids show ever. The only downside was the fact that the whole "who will win" tension was ruined by the fact that the Red Team always won, for whatever reason.
This is a true story, it happened to a friend of a friend of mine... Nah, just kidding, I actually watched this show as a kid, and if you remember that phrase, you definitely did too. Hosted by a blue cockroach and a maggot, Freaky Stories brought urban legends to (animated) life for an entire generation of Canadians, thus imparting valuable life lessons, like never trust an old lady at a grocery store (she'll trick you into paying for her food) and rats from Mexico are big as dogs.
Video & Arcade Top 10
Back before competitive gaming was a thing, Video & Arcade Top 10 gave Canadian kids the incentive to play a game for hours on end to get good enough to appear on the show and win some random prizes. Or just get a letter read during Letter Time. On the air for a full 15 years, V&A is one of the longest-running shows in Canadian game show history, and we also can't forget the fact that the entire thing was hosted by a guy called Nicholas Picholas (née Schimmelpenninck).
If you took French class (which is pretty much any student in Canada) then you definitely watched Téléfrançais. Whoever came up with the idea of having an anthropomorphized Pineapple teach kids about basic French language grammar and vocabulary was definitely on some next-level sh*t, but you can't deny that Téléfrançais worked. Maybe you just need a healthy sprinkling of cray to get kids to pay attention, and Téléfrançais definitely had enough to keep French classes across the country engaged enough. And who could forget the oddly catchy intro? No one, that's who.