Legends TV series donated by Cogeco to county archives

Cogeco TV of Fergus held a party here at Al­ex’s Restaurant Nov. 24 to donate to the county archives.
It was a portrait of the first dozen years of a TV program host Bob Reynolds thought would never fly. He has been the host of almost all of those interviews – and people love the show. Now, the county archives has the valuable tapes.
Cogeco-TV did 250 half-hour shows from interviews with 119 people.
Reynolds said Legends was conceived by station manager Terri Lamb. He would visit people in their homes and get them to talk about their life. The idea was a shock, Rey­nolds said while greeting dozens of interviewees.
“I didn’t volunteer,” he said. “I was on the [Elora] marketing committee – trying to get as much mileage as we could out of the In Love with Elora campaign.” When Lamb made her suggestion, Reynolds asked her, “Why me?” But he agreed to do it, and said of his first show, “I was terrible.”
But his subject was im­pres­sive. Artist Larry Badgery mov­ed to Elora from Toronto in the late 1960s and found the village by getting lost. He thought he was in Alliston, and then he saw the gorge. He had no idea what it was, and asked who built “that great, bloody ditch?’
With that phrase, and people’s interest in a now-legally-blind artist who was still painting watercolours, the show took off.  “He was fun – such an interesting person,” Reynolds recalled. “And we’ve been do­ing it ever since.
After four years, the station changed the name to Lifetimes to get younger people on air. Reynolds interviews people, and the show runs in half-hour segments.
Graham Giddy was the sponsor of the show from the beginning.
One day Reynolds met Dr. Barbara Hazlett, who told him she had seen him the previous night. He wondered how be­cause he had been home, and learned a former guest had died, and Giddy was playing the interview for people waiting in line to pay their respects at the Giddy Funeral Home. Everyone seemed to like that idea, Giddy said.
“We’ve used eight or ten,” he said of those shows. “People think it’s great – and they can enjoy that person’s life.” He said people turned their visits into a celebration of people’s lives. He said sometimes people show photographs in a slide show, but, “The video is so much better. You see the person laughing and saying ‘I did this … They have something to talk about.”
And, “It makes the family feel good.”
Archive donation
The shows were sitting on a shelf, and Reynolds told county archivist Karen Wagner he feared  some day, someone might tape over them. “For several years, we said, ‘Why can’t we get them into the Wellington County Muse­um and Ar­chives’?”
Paul Mosure, who volun­teers as researcher (as well as being floor manager and cameraman) placed them on DVD. Giddy paid for the work, and Reynolds donated a player to the muse­um.
Reynolds said the shows span three centuries. That happened because Wellington Ad­vertiser historian Steve Thorn­ing agreed to play the roles of Sem Wissler, founder of Salem, and Elora industrialist T.E. Bissell. Thorning was also interviewed about his own life.
Wagner accepted the DVDs on behalf of the archives.
She said with a small staff and budget, there was no way the archives could have put together oral histories of the area the way the TV show has done it.
She said the shows are im­portant because people could not only tell what they did, “but what they wanted to do.”
Wagner said, “Thanks to all the participants. I gratefully accept theses DVDs.”
Emcee for the day was Larry Peters, who runs the controls in the studio for the show. He read letters of regret from MP Michael Chong and MPP Ted Arnott, who were both in Erin for a parade.
Chong sent greetings and said, “These stories are what ties us together as a community.”
Arnott said by letter, “Please convey my personal congratulations to Bob on this outstanding achievement and for his generous contribution towards the preservation of our history in the 20th century.”
Peters said Centre Welling­ton Mayor Joanne Ross-Zuj was present, having left Ottawa at 6am that day. She walked in just as the festivities began.
Ross-Zuj said she was amazed looking around at all the people who had been in­terviewed, which included her father, Vic, a former Elora councillor.
If Reynolds felt he was “awful” for the first show, Ross-Zuj said there has been definite improvement over the years.
She said, “He’s an absolute master … the conservation just flows. This collection will be well used.
The interviews span an array of careers, from artists to historians, clergy, doctors, lawyers, restaurateurs, authors, athletes, entrepreneurs, and recipients of the Order of Canada. Some of them, like paraplegic Olympian Patrick Anderson and blind author Jean Little, overcame serious handi­caps to find success.
The show begins a new season in January, and all indications, Reynolds said, are that the coming shows will again some day be presented to the archives.
He thanked every­one for their help over the years, starting with Peters and his wife, Karen, his own wife, Angie,  Mosure for his long hours of dedication and for transcribing the shows to DVD, and volun­teer, then co-op student, and then volunteer again Jeannette Paul, and also Giddy, for his spon­sorship over the years.
Over those dozen years, Reynolds missed hosting only one show, and Karen Peters acted as interviewer for that one.
Her subject? Regular pro­gram host Bob Reynolds, who has forged his own Legend.