Public Television | 1952-1959
A Canadian Television Pionner
Among the technologies put on hold by the war, television was finally coming to Canada. Before US broadcasters overwhelmed the Canadian market, Ottawa legislated to create a national television network. For this new challenge, they had to recruit the best talents to master this powerful new broadcasting tool.
Filmmaking teams were natural prospects. Their knowledge of cinema, lighting, studio, staging, etc. were essential assets whose codes could be adapted to the new environment. But still, a new visual language was to be invented by the pioneers of the small screen.
Ladouceur's professional experience as an artist, storyteller and filmmaker made him an ideal candidate. He was invited to join this great new adventure.
As years pass…
1952 / 1953
Aurèle Séguin, director of Radio-Canada, the french section of the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, was mandated to train the teams needed for the birth of television in Montreal. Among the many candidates who were assessed, Jean-Paul Ladouceur was chosen for his cinematic experience and his ability to communicate with young people.
Jean-Paul's family with two children, moved to Montreal and rented a flat located at the corner of Jourdain and Molson Streets.
Réginald Boisvert, an editor of Journal François teamed with Jean-Paul to create a show for young audiences. It's title Pepinot and Capucine. Ladouceur designed the characters and visualized the sets. His partner scripted the action and wrote the characters dialogues.
Jean-Paul produced the early 25 episodes. At the time, TV shows were broadcast live because no recording devices were available other than filming a tv monitor. This technical deficiency explains why so few visual archive remain of this archaic period.
Thanks to his knowledge and contacts in publishing, Ladouceur tried to generate derivative products of the program. He illustrated and published puzzles, coloring books, and puppets from the star characters. He even undertook the production of a comic strip featuring Pépinot with a European publisher. Radio-Canada was displeased and put an end to these initiatives.
He also directed Tic-Tac-Toc a youth show where two teams competed in different skill games to complete a victorious tic-tac-toe alignment.
He collaborated with André Cailloux on the early episodes of the Grenier aux images where a wise grandfather told stories to which Frisson des collines a malicious puppet elf, added a grain of salt.
He produced an experimental tv drama Rue de la Friponne whose complex script was signed by Fernand Doré. This show explored with mixed success the limits of live TV trying to apply the tight editing of cinema.
Besides the time he devoted to producing, he got involved in every aspect of production, storyboarding, designing, model making, puppet making and improvising accessories for special shooting needs. Some would criticize him for doing too much and overstepping his mandate.
The Ladouceur family reached five members with the arrival of a second son.
1954 / 1957
The little family moved to Rosemont, a Montreal district, to an appartment owned by his father-in-law.
He was promoted to production manager of Radio-Canada, the french section of the CBC.
He devoted a great deal of energy to the training of staff and the implementation of standardized procedures.
He devised for his office a huge canvas illustrating the complexities of production and the interaction of all the specialties involved in a television show.
He created studio models he could photographt to assemble detailed slideshows to use during training courses.
His pioneering work with the influx of other specialists was the basis of the Television Studio Practices Manual of the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation published in the early '60s.
To expand its TV schedule, Radio-Canada regularly bought TV rights to foreign programs. Among them were original Disney animations in english. Haegerty productions made a bid to provided translation services and Ladouceur helped redrawing some sequences with appropriate french texts.
The years of intense activity devoted to inventing television left little room for the illustrator. However, the challenge of undertaking a history textbook convinced him to pick back his brush.
He spent several months documenting and drawing scenes that give life to the two volumes entitled L'histoire de notre pays for eighth and ninth graders published by the Clerics of Saint-Viateur.
He would occasionally lend his pencil to help the Capuchin Fathers who needed to illustrate some of their monthly publications like L'écho de Saint-François.
He illustrated calendars for the Canadian Catholic Scout Federation and the Federation of Catholic Guides of Canada.
He made his first trip to Europe at the request of the CBC / Radio-Canada. He prolonged this stay and documented with his camera the countries he visited: France, England and Luxembourg.
1958 / 1959
In December 58, the producers of CBC / Radio-Canada launched a general strike to form a professional union. J. P. Ladouceur, who was part of the higher management, had to weather the storm with his fellow administrators.
After several tense weeks, the strike ended with the victory of the producers. To alleviate the resentment of the opponents, most of the former managing staff was put on leave or simply left.