The last time I had visited the CBC was for a school trip for Grade 10 English class. Somehow our English teacher thought it would be a great idea to see media “up close” – which meant we got to sit in the studio audience for a filming of Jonovision (Can anyone even remember that show?). Anyway, I don’t really remember much about the building itself except for this great museum in which there was a TV where we could watch the theme songs to famous CBC shows over and over again. We ended up sitting in front of this TV for a good 20 minutes listening to the theme songs to Fraggle Rock and Degrassi Junior High repeatedly until we had them memorized. All-in-all, it was a great day!
So, when I learned that this weekend the CBC was hosting an open house called “The Canada Lives Here Experience“, I definitely wanted to return (and potentially find that TV again. Who doesn’t love a great 80’s theme song?). I didn’t know much about this so-called ‘experience’ except that 1) It was free (and who doesn’t love doing things for free?) and 2) I could dress up like Don Cherry (not sure why this resonated with me so much?).
Immediately when you enter the CBC atrium, there are plenty of things to see and do. Since we wanted to go on the 5 pm tour of the experience, we only had a little bit of time to check out some of the exhibits before heading up to the 10th floor (where the experience takes place). We knew we had to return to the atrium though as I definitely wanted my photo taken dressed up like Don Cherry (again, I am still not really sure why).
When we arrived to the 10th floor, we were all taken into this large, dark room where we got a full media introduction featuring famous CBC icons like Peter Mansbridge, Jian Ghomeshi and the Dragons from Dragon’s Den (We also learned that the large, dark room in which we were standing in was actually the space where they film Dragon’s Den – which felt cool for some weird reason). After our brief media introduction (and quiz – in which my friend and I failed miserably. Seriously, does anyone know the name of the actor who stars in the Republic of Doyle? Well one person did surprisingly enough), we were taken into the actual “experience”.
Throughout the experience we were taken through various ‘Halls’ (such as the ‘Hall of Information’ where we saw how a news story is put together, or the ‘Hall of Stars’ where we were immersed in Canadian pop culture…and had our photo taken on the red carpet). Going through the exhibit, you went through all these tunnels and rooms and it was really quite the production. Everywhere you looked, there would be something interesting to watch or hear (they played some great Canadian music as you walked through the ‘Hall of Music’).
After our experience was over on the 10th floor, we headed back downstairs where we walked through the CBC Museum and got to see old friends like Mr. Dressup and the muppets from Sesame Park (I did not find the magical TV that played my 80’s theme songs though. I was slightly depressed for about 30 seconds).
Probably the highlight of my experience was the great time we had at the “Be a News Anchor” desk. We got to literally sit behind a news anchor desk and read off of a teleprompter. Luckily I brought my glasses with me so that I could actually read the copy on the screen. We were filmed behind the desk and broadcast on TV’s in the atrium. Unfortunately they did not actually record us, which was kind of sad as I would have loved to see our fantastic rendition of a news broadcast (complete with closing sign off poses and winks).
So if you are in Toronto this long weekend and looking for something to do – why not head over to the CBC? It’s free, you will be entertained and maybe even feel a little more cultured after all of it.