Fonds 1999.002 - Patrick Watson fonds

Identity area

Reference code

CA ON00349 1999.002


Patrick Watson fonds


  • 1951 – 1997 (Creation)

Level of description


Extent and medium

21.3 m of textual records

· ca. 7,150 photographic prints
· 721 35mm col. negatives
· 320 col. prints
· 3, 241 col. transparencies
· 63 packages of 35mm negatives (col. and b & w)

graphic materials
· 3 sketches
· 10 posters

audio recordings
· 26 reels ½ in. tape (ca. 13 hrs)
· 10 reels ¼ in. tape (ca. 5 hrs)
· 75 cassettes (ca. 46 hrs)
· 3 LPs (ca. 2 hrs)

video recordings
· 146 – ¾ in. videocassettes (ca. 145 hrs)
· 13 Betacam videocassettes (ca. 13 hrs)
· 168 VHS videocassettes (ca. 149 hrs)
· 1 CVC videocassette (ca. 30 min)

· 13 plaques, 5 medals, 27 certificates, 2 Lucite trophies, 2 programs

Context area

Name of creator


Biographical history

Writer, producer, host, and actor Patrick Watson has played a pivotal role in the development of Canadian television. Watson was born in Toronto in 1929, and by the age of fourteen he was acting in the daily CBC radio children's series, The Kootenay Kid. By 1955, Watson had earned a B.A. and an M.A. from the University of Toronto, and was on his way to completing a Ph.D in Linguistics at the University of Michigan; however, the lure of broadcasting was strong, and Watson began freelancing for CBC Television. Shortly thereafter, he joined the staff and began producing Close-Up (1957-60) and Inqui’ry (1960-64). In 1964 Patrick and co-producer Douglas Leiterman developed This Hour Has Seven Days, an innovative public affairs series with a magazine format that set investigative reporting and documentary features alongside satirical songs and sketches. Over its 50-episode, two-year lifespan, This Hour drew an audience of three million viewers before a rising tide of complaints from politicians and public figures prompted the CBC to pull the show off the air, and to fire co-hosts Watson and Laurier Lapierre. The move occasioned an avalanche of angry letters, public demonstrations, a parliamentary committee hearing, and a special investigation by an appointee of the prime minister.
After a brief period (June 1969 - March1970) at the CTV Ottawa affiliate CJOH, Watson worked as writer/producer/director on The Undersea World of Jacques Cousteau, and as host/interviewer on The Watson Report, The Canadian Establishment, Flight; The Passionate Affair, Lawyers, Live from Lincoln Centre, The Fifty-First State (for WPBS channel 13 New York), Witness to Yesterday, and The Titans. Watson also hosted a ten-part series, The Struggle for Democracy (produced in both English and French with Watson as host) which garnered him a Gemini and a Gemaux.
Watson was named Chairman of the CBC in 1989. During the five years that he spent in that position, he handled severe budget cuts and demands for the privatization of the Corporation. He resigned from the Chairmanship in 1994.
In 1988, Watson had been appointed Creative Director and principal writer of the CRB Foundation's Heritage Minutes project. On leaving the Corporation he resumed his work on this series of more than 60 cinematic dramatizations of moments from Canada's past, and more recently has been helping create a similar series of 90-second dramatizations for radio, under the auspices of The Historical Foundation of Canada.
While most of Watson’s career has been as a broadcaster, he has also performed roles in Bethune, Terry Fox: The Movie, Countdown to Looking-Glass and The Fourth Angel. In addition, he has written on a wide variety of topics, including religion, science, art, music, politics, human rights, the practice of magic, journalism, history, and broadcasting. Watson’s autobiography, This Hour Has Seven Decades, was published in 2004.
Watson was made an Officer of the Order of Canada in 1981 for promoting excellence in television and radio, and in 2002 he was promoted to Companion of the Order. Over his career, he has received many awards, including two Canadian Film Awards, two Emmys, the Academy of Canadian Film and Television's Margaret Collier Award for Writing, and a number of ACTRA Awards, including the Gordon Sinclair Award for Broadcast Journalism. He has honorary doctorates in Letters and in Laws, and is a holder of the Canada 125 Medal and the Queen's 50th Anniversary Jubilee Medal.
A man of diverse interests, Watson is a fully qualified pilot and practicing magician. He has also served on numerous boards of advisers, such as the National Film Board (1984 – 1987), Canadian Centre for Arms Control, ACTRA, Writer’s Union of Canada, Civil Liberties Association, March of Dimes, Academy of Canadian Cinema & Television, and the Canadian Abilities Foundation. Watson has been married twice (his second wife, Caroline Bamford, is also his business partner) and is the father of three children.

Archival history

Immediate source of acquisition or transfer

Content and structure area

Scope and content

The Patrick Watson fonds encompasses two accessions. The first accession (1999.002) consists of seven series, separated by format.

The first series, Textual Records, spans the bulk of Watson’s career (1955 – 1996) and consists of correspondence, memos, daybooks, legal documents, contracts/agreements, creative documents, production records, financial documents, and post-production records. There are also aviation documents (pilot logs, aviation maps) and management documents such as policy statements, discussion papers, reports, license applications, program schedules, teachers’ guides, audience research, and corporate plans. Annotated drafts, printer’s proofs, and final versions of each of Watson’s published works are also included.

The second series, Audio Records, consists of edited and raw interviews, radio pilot productions, finished radio productions, speeches, on-air
reviews, and high quality master audio elements of two film/video productions prior to marriage with visuals (Struggle for Democracy, Understanding McLuhan).

The third series, Video Records, includes video materials relating to 46 films and television series. These are chiefly release prints, though there are also alternative versions, elements, rough assemblies, demo/compilation reels, interviews, credit/opening/closing segments, graphics and animation, promotional trailers, and sales tapes.

The fourth series, Photographs, consists of ca. 7,150 unique location and production stills, as well as promotional shots relating to Watson’s productions. Some of the people portrayed include: Pierre Trudeau, Laurier LaPierre, Dinah Christie, Peter Ustinov, Tim Hardin, Gloria Steinem, Kate Nelligan, Harry Belafonte, Donald Sutherland, Lester Pearson, and Norman Jewison. The majority of the items (ca. 4,292
slides, negatives, and prints) were created during and for the production Struggle for Democracy.

The fifth series, Artwork, is comprised of 10 posters and 3 drawings.

The sixth series, Awards, include 45 nominations, awards, and degrees/diplomas.

The seventh series, Memorabilia, consists of artifacts related to specific projects, appearances/events, positions held, and organizations/foundations with which Watson has been involved. These include garments, ties, a plaque, lapel pins, tickets, stamps, badges, buttons, a spoon, a coin, and paperweights.

This fonds includes textual material relating to the following productions:

China/The Seven Hundred Million (Film, 1964)
This Hour Has Seven Days (Television, 1964 – 1966)
Some Honourable Members (Television, 1973 - 1975)
The Watson Report (Television, 1975 – 1981)
Titans (Television, 1981)
Struggle for Democracy (Television, 1989)
Heritage Minutes (Television, 1990 - 1997)
This fonds also includes audiovisual material relating to the following productions:

One Step at a Time (Film, 1964)
China/The Seven Hundred Million (Film, 1964)
This Hour Has Seven Days (Television, 1964 – 1966)
Witness to Yesterday (Television, 1973)
The Watson Report (Television, 1975 – 1980)
Authors (Television, 1978)
How We Know (Television, 1978 - 1979)
Canadian Establishment (Television, 1980)
Strumpet City (Television, 1981)
Titans (Television, 1981)
The Chinese (Television, 1981)
Defi Mondiale/World Challenge (Television, 1983 - 1984)
Live From Lincoln Center (Television, 1983 – 1986)
Lawyers (Television, 1985)
Venture (Television, 1985 – 1987)
Struggle for Democracy (Television, 1989)
Something Brewing (Television, 1989)
Heritage Minutes (Television, 1990 - 1997
Understanding McLuhan (Television, 1996)

Appraisal, destruction and scheduling


System of arrangement

Conditions of access and use area

Conditions governing access

Preservation concern may limit access, consult archivist.

Conditions governing reproduction

Media Commons does not own copyright of collection materials. Consult rights holder for reproduction(s).

Language of material

  • English
  • French

Script of material

Language and script notes

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Finding aids

Allied materials area

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Description control area

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Dates of creation revision deletion

Data copied from Drupal by Adam Cavanaugh 2022/05/02


  • English
  • French



· Canadian Film Encyclopedia
· Canadian Communications Foundation
· CBC Life and Times (website no longer available June 2014)
· This Hour Has Seven Decades (McArthur & Company: 2004)

Accession area

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