What was new in 1952?

After years of rationing and deprivation as a result of the Second World War, Canadians were ready for a material world of new homes and cars, fancy new appliances and innovation. In 1952, they proudly welcomed the first of the nation’s Canadian-born Governors General. The popular Vincent Massey surprised them by travelling from coast to coast to coast, sometimes arriving by canoe and occasionally by dogsled.

That year, Canadians 70 and older began receiving Old Age Security, the country’s first universal old age pension. In September, a potent new public broadcasting service, CBC Television, hit the airwaves in glorious black and white. Canadians beyond the reach of American border stations finally had access to the new medium, one that featured Canadian programming. No matter that the first image was an upside-down logo. It was ours and we loved it.

But what else was happening in Canada 50 years ago?

1. Sport fans used to following their favourite teams by way of Foster Hewitt’s play-by-play descriptions on radio were delighted on Oct. 11, 1952 when Hockey Night in Canada began a new tradition by televising t game between the Montreal Canadiens and the Detroit Red Wings.

2. In a cardigan borrowed from CBC Television producer, Norman Campbell, and topped with director Norman Jewison’s father’s cap, Don Harron made his first appearance as the canny, dsylexic hayseed from Parry Sound, Ont., Charlie Farquharson, during the annual stage revue called Spring Thaw.

3. Art Linkletter, born in Moose Jaw, Sask., took his popular CBS radio show, House Party, to CBS-TV, where it ran until 1969.

4. Canada’s Lester B. Pearson became Secretary of the General Assembly just as the United Nations moved into its new $67.5 million General Assembly building in Manhattan. The conflict in Korea topped the agenda.

5. Crowds in Britain cheered a beautiful young Queen Elizabeth II on her way to the State Opening of Parliament, her first major duty. Her coronation months away, she was not allowed to wear the Crown during her speech.

6. Two U.S. laboratories announced the development of vaccines against poliomyelitis, which was attacking children and young adults.

7. Almost 300 married couples in Boston, Mass., tested a new drug designed to prevent conception. It worked – not one pregnancy while on the contraceptive, soon dubbed The Pill.

8.  The idea that changed a city: Tom Patterson convinced Stratford (Ont.) council to support a festival featuring the plays of William Shakespeare. In 1952, he went to England, hired Tyrone Guthrie as artistic director and Alec Guinness as their first star. This year, the Stratford Festival’s economic impact on the region is estimated at $170 million.

9.  Clarence Birdseye, creator of the frozen food industry, begins marketing frozen peas. They were just the thing for the popular new freezer-equipped refrigerators.