North of 60 swan song?
Local residents sad series might be cancelled

by Kerry McCluskey
Northern News Services

NNSL (Feb 06/98) - Whether it stays or goes, local consensus appears to be that the CBC series North of 60 -- set in the Deh Cho -- is going to be a sad thing for all Canadians to lose.

"I think it (North of 60) has done a lot to introduce native life and native peoples to Canadians," said Fort Simpson's Nick Sibbeston, who has long worked as a cultural advisor to the show. "It is sad to see the series end... The information I have is that the show was very successful -- it (possible cancellation) wasn't a matter of not having sufficient numbers."

Another long-time Deh Cho resident, Candy Brown, said she's long been a fan of the show.

"I really enjoyed it all the years and enjoyed having the chance to meet some of the actors when they came here," she said. "As far as television goes, I think it was a fairly good reflection of life in the North."

"And, I talked (over the years) with a lot of southerners who really liked it. It gave them a glimpse of the North that wasn't in books."

Fort Simpson's Peter Shaw owns the Lynx River Craft Shop in the village. He said the name will remain.

"We'll keep on regardless of what CBC does," he said. "I think it was an excellent program. It's sad that something that reflects life so well in the North would be passed over by CBC management."

Recently, there has been a lot of buzz about North of 60 these days and the gist of the chatter revolves around whether or not the show will see a seventh season.

Ruth Ellen Soles, the chief media liaison for CBC-TV's English services, said the matter is still being discussed.

"There is nothing definite. It's the time of year when the programs for next season are being determined. There's nothing yet that's firm on whether or not there will be another season," said Soles.

"No final decision has been made about that. Before the end of February, a decision will be made."

But in a memo to publicity staff in September of 1997, Soles told them the show was finished.

As quoted by a publicist who asked not to be named, the memo read "North of 60 as a weekly series will end at the end of this season.

However, we will be keeping the North of 60 community of Lynx River alive by way of a movie which we expect to begin shooting in spring of 1998."

Soles said the issues surrounding the program changed. "There were different circumstances from last fall when I said that. There are always circumstances in the funding of these programs and they change."

Soles would not comment on what the changes were.

North of 60 began as a series in December of 1992 and deals with a fictitious aboriginal community in the NWT. It is actually filmed in Bragg Creek, Alta.

Barb Teghtmeyer resides in the community of approximately 1000 and she says her town will feel the loss of revenue if and when North of 60 pulls out.

Referring to her own general store and gas station business, Teghtmeyer said, "Yes, we personally will feel it. It's a bit atypical because we're trying to build gas volume and that's what they provide us with. The coffee shops and restaurants will also feel it."

"As far as Bragg Creekers go, it didn't provide that much in jobs because they bring their own people in and you have to be part of the guild and work your way up in the hierarchy. But these people go to bars and eat in the restaurants and buy gas and souvenirs -- the actors and the people who work on the show," said Teghtmeyer who owns the Bragg Creek Trading Post with her husband.

"It's mainly spinoff economically, not jobs as such.A few local people got jobs but not many."

"They also rent places and there was another spinoff job. A lady down here did all their wash. Every night she would wash all the Mounties uniforms," said Teghtmeyer.

Her family has owned the Trading Post for the last 65 years.

"For us, we've been involved (with North of 60) since the beginning. People think our store is the one on the show. We're the most connected with them," said Teghtmeyer.

(With files from Arthur Milnes in Fort Simpson)