Youth Programming

Early years at Radio-Canada

In 1952, not long after Radio-Canada television first went on air, Frédéric Back was hired on as a graphic artist, set designer and model maker. He worked in these various capacities on a number of programs for young people. Whether the focus was on general education, religious teachings or pure entertainment, he always strove to contextualize and enrich the story being told or the subject addressed by adding a host of meticulously authenticated details.

"I was often asked to depict places for which very few pictures existed at the time. We now live in a world of images; on the Internet, you click on Venice, or somewhere in Africa, or some celebrity and you have images for those things. In those days, images were scarce and we would clip anything we could use out of books. I was determined to make everything as believable as possible, so I tried to faithfully recreate settings, clothing and objects and make their style as true-to-life as I could. I believed that history deserved to be treated with careful attention."

Even at this early juncture, Frédéric Back's quest for historical truth, respect for nature, kindness towards animals and belief in humanist cooperation had begun to shine through in the various animations he produced. He was equally inspired by his confidence in the next generation, which he hoped was destined for a brighter future.


The Ugly Duckling

For the children's music program Concert pour la jeunesse, Frédéric Back illustrated The Ugly Duckling, a Hans Christian Andersen fairy tale set to music by...

Maman Fonfon

On Radio-Canada's very first television series for children, educator Claudine Vallerand ("Maman Fonfon") captivated thousands of baby boomers with her stories and songs...

Pierres vivantes

Each Sunday, Père Ambroise recounts the lives of key historical figures in the Catholic religion. The program is a follow-up to Les récits du Père Ambroise, broadcast a few years earlier.

Le Secret des choses

As its title suggests, the program unveils the secrets behind a variety of subjects of interest to children-from climatic phenomena and oil production to silk manufacturing...

This Living World

This weekly nature program for young people takes a scientific look at animal and insect behaviour and plant life around the world. Live animals are regularly brought to the studio...

Les mystères de la planète

A precursor to the science shows La vie qui bat and Le secret des choses, Les mystères de la planète explored different nature-related subjects, such as...

Les récits du Père Ambroise

In this weekly program, Père Ambroise recounts lives of key historical figures in the Catholic religion. The program was continued a few years later with the title Pierres vivantes.

Jeunesse oblige

With its daily themes, such as popular songs, classical music and sports, the program was a big hit with teenagers and young adults. It also gave many Quebec singers and songwriters...

L'ours et la loutre

To teach children French, the writers of this educational series used simple stories from around the world, without really adapting them for their target audience.


The program entertained an entire generation of young viewers, who can still remember the brief animated sequence-created by Frédéric Back-that opened the show each week.

Le grenier aux images

Le grenier aux images was one of Radio-Canada's first children's programs. It was hosted by actor and writer André Cailloux, alias "Grand-père Cailloux," with...