Speaking Points for Emcee at Forest Rangers Reunion
Welcome to the Forest Rangers reunion!!!!!!!
I’m Eric Shapiro, your emcee for this afternoon, and like me, I’m sure you are excited to be here.
This day is a long time coming.The idea of having a Forest Rangers reunion has been mentioned a few times over the years. A good friend of mine, Barry Zbar and I talked about the idea, but thought we were dreaming in Technicolor. We didn’t think it could happen. Until recently. Clayton Self started a comprehensive website about the Forest Rangers that created much interest. Clay, please stand so people can recognize you. Fans would "Google-in" and realize that others remembered the show with great fondness. And then others started coming "out-of-the-closet, so to speak." We knew all along you fans were out there. So much so that Clay floated the idea of a reunion. And here we are today.
We know the folks who showed up for this reunion aren’t casual fans. You are life long Forest Rangers supporters, am I right???? I want to particularly welcome fans who have come from B.C. You’ve come a long way, and you know what? You made the right decision.
History of the Forest Rangers
104 episodes were produced over 2 and a half years (1963-65). That would never happen now. It was the first Canadian-made TV series filmed in high production colour in the world. It has been seen in more than 40 countries around the world over the years, including: Australia, Egypt, Hong Kong, Belgium, Argentina, and Norway where the Forest Rangers were known as Skog-WOK-ter-kklub-ben.
Just imagine, in French we would have heard Pete Keeley say, Qu’est-ce qui se passe Chub? In Spanish, he would have said, Que pasa Chub? In Chinese, well, I’m not about to attempt that one. I have too much respect for people of Asian origin.
The show was shot at the former Circle M Ranch in Kleinburg, very close to where we are now. It demonstrated colourful backdrop of wilderness scenes set in Ontario's Great Outdoors. The Junior Forest Rangers lived in a large Hudsons Bay fort. When they weren’t in the fort, they slept in sleeping bags, usually in 30 below weather. The junior rangers were the envy of many kids around the world, sharing adventures most kids only dreamed of. The junior rangers usually managed to become heroes by putting out forest fires, rescuing people and thwarting various no-name villains.
They faced an incredible amount of danger practically every time they stepped out of the fort. Not the kind of scenario that the typical kid from Toronto might face.They had help in their adventures: RCMP officer Sgt. Brian Scott, played by Gordon Pinsent; Chief Forest Ranger George Keeley, played by Graydon Gould; and, Indian guide Joe Two Rivers, played by Michael Zenon. Occasionally, the Jr. Forest Rangers had to deal with a daring flyer, who always came close to knocking down buildings and the good people of Indian River. Do you remember his name?????? Of course, Charlie Appleby, played by Gerrard Parkes.
There were a number of actors who portrayed lovable characters on show who unfortunately have passed on: Rolland Bedard played the affable and very funny Uncle Raoul. Who could forget Uncle Raoul being chased by an amorous moose?
Joe Austin was 46 when the show started. His character, Mr. McLeod, claimed to be 105 years old. Do you remember the Jr. Rangers covering a beaver in white powder, causing McLeod to yell: an Albini Beaver!!!
Eric Cryderman, otherwise known as Matt Craig, was always stationed at the top of the Pike Fire Tower. He would always be at the ready to radio George Keeley about a puff of smoke, or a major forest fire; Eric Clavering played Shing Wauk, the Ojibway Indian Medicine Man; and, Barbara Hamilton, A.K.A. Aggie Apple, ran the Indian River Marina and Restaurant, where apple pie could be had for 35 cents a slice, a near fortune in those days. And I would be remiss if I did not mention the various wolves, bears and moose that visited the Jr. Forest Rangers. And it was nice that the rangers always treated these animals with the respect befitting the environmental nature of the show. If he were here, I would certainly ask Michael Zenon this question: When you talked to the bears, were you really saying "nice bear, take it easy." Or was it "get your lines right. We’re missing lunch!"
I want to take a moment to tell you how the afternoon will unfold. After being introduced, each cast member will speak for a moment or two about what the show meant to them. We will have a Q and A session, where you can ask cast members questions about the show. Questions can be about: the show in general;individual episodes; the background of the Forest Rangers characters; and, how the show was produced.
Then we will have our raffle draw for: The Department of Lands and Forests sign, produced By Mike Del Rizzo; the Jr. Forest Rangers fort sign, also produced by Mike Del Rizzo; an old 45 RPM record of the Forest Rangers opening theme song; and, some old movies shot at the Kleinburg studios on VHS. This will be followed by a trivia contest, and a meet and greet session with cast members, where you can have your photo taken with your favorite stars and ask for autographs.
And now, what we’ve all been waiting for, the cast members from the Forest Rangers:
She played Gaby LaRoche, niece of Uncle Raoul La Roche - Syme Jago.
Kathy was the adventurous one, and even took on those three tough guys who invaded Indian River - Susan Conway.
You knew him as Mike Forbes. Ladies and gentlemen, all the way from his home in Ireland, welcome Peter Tully.
Peter had familial support on the show. His brother, Michael Tully, played Johnny O’Reilly.
His cousin on the show, the leader of the Jr. Forest Rangers, Rex Hagon, played Pete Keeley.
Chub Stanley, the orphan who matured into a responsible member and eventual leader of the Jr. Forest Rangers, played by Ralph Endersby.
Zeke was the intellectual, the lad who gave the Forest Rangers a moral compass. He was also Indian River’s most authoritative bird watcher. Please welcome, Jesse Cohoon.
You remember him as the guy who filled in for George Keeley. He was the anti-Forest Ranger, a guy who couldn’t relate to kids, or adults for that fact. An incompetent Ranger, but a great character actor, Tom Harvey.
You remember those three young tough guys who terrorized Indian River? One of them is here today. Say hello to Gary Flanagan.
He played Fred Stark, the Indian River realtor who tried to take over Aggie Apple’s marina. Please welcome, Vernon Chapman.
Joe Two Rivers - played by Michael Zenon, was the best Indian Guide in Indian River, probably for that fact, in North America. Michael would have loved to have been here, but his work as an Assistant Director has kept him away. We are very happy though to welcome his son, Tyler Zenon.
The Chief Forest Rangers who kept the Jr. Forest Rangers in line - George Keeley, played by Graydon Gould, could not be here today, because of prior commitments in England. But Graydon sent a letter that he asked Rex Hagon to read to you, his fans.... Rex? (Rex reads Graydon’s letter) Thanks Rex. Even George Keeley had to answer to somebody, or at least, deal with members of authority. I’m sure you remember RCMP Officer Sgt. Brian Scott, played by Gordon Pinsent. He would have loved to have been here today, but last minute circumstances changed his plans.
So that’s our lineup of your beloved Forest Rangers stars! Kudos to Clayton Self and other cast members, in particular Susie Conway, Syme Jago and Rex Hagon for getting so many of the original cast together.
I would like each cast member, one by one, to talk briefly about what he or she remembers most about their experiences on the set of the Forest Rangers. We will start with the actors in the order they were introduced. Syme, what are your feelings about the show and is there one memory that stands out?
Now, we will take some questions from you, the fans. (Do Q and A).
Now I’d like to hand over the microphone to Mike MacDonald for a trivia contest, and fan pleasing draws and giveaways:photo session follows. Eric Shapiro concludes proceedings by thanking everyone for attending.