Our Stories. Our Treasures.
Simply hearing the names Casey, Finnegan and Mr. Dressup gives millions of Canadians a warm feeling inside. For others, Due South brings a smile, and countless more flash back to their teen years when Degrassi Junior High gets mentioned.
We grew up with these iconic Canadian characters and television programs. We may have thought they would simply live on in our memories; however, thanks to the Canada Media Fund, not only can we revisit these series, but we also have access to hundreds of other Canadian TV shows, feature films, children’s programs, and documentaries through the YouTube channel Encore+.
Launched in 2017, Encore+ has proven a huge hit with viewers. The channel has garnered more than 52 million views and viewers have spent a total of 1.2 billion minutes watching content on the channel.
What are they watching? The range is as varied as the viewer, who can indulge in one of the many historical feature films, documentaries and even Heritage Minutes—the iconic 60-second shorts depicting a significant person or event in Canadian history—then check out Emily of New Moon, and finish with a screening of the award-winning documentary Manufacturing Consent: Noam Chomsky and the Media, which has been viewed almost 6 million times. Feature film lovers can enjoy classics like Kissed by Lighting by Indigenous filmmaker Shelley Niro, Don McKellar’s Last Night or a remastered version of Johnny Mnemonic recently commissioned by Encore+.
Perhaps most surprising is that more than half of Encore+'s views originate from outside Canada. That’s a testament to both the quality of Canadian entertainment and its importance in the global media marketplace.
But Encore+ is much more than a time capsule. Some 30 years after it aired, Ready or Not stars Laura Bertram and Lani Billard recently teamed up and recorded their reactions while watching the pilot of their popular coming-of-age show. To introduce the 1983 drama The Wars, based on the Timothy Findley novel, legendary actor Martha Henry and her co-stars, including Ann-Marie MacDonald, reunited to poignantly reminisce about the making of the film via a new stream of Encore+ originals.
“With the world increasingly watching from home, Encore+ became a unique destination for audiences looking for great Canadian content,” says Valerie Creighton, President and CEO, Canada Media Fund. “Thanks to this industry-wide partnership, we’ve given new life to iconic titles and fan-favourites.”
Most recently, the CMF’s deeper goal was accomplished in 2022 via the separation of the content and the creation of a YouTube channel dedicated to French-language film and TV classics. The Canada Media Fund knew Francophone viewers were eager for more content, which led to the launch of Encore Plus.
“The success of Encore+ over the past few years to drive over 52 million views of Canadian and Quebecois classics is impressive,” says Andrew Peterson, Head of Content Partnerships at YouTube Canada.
“YouTube and the CMF’s shared goal to enable Canadian and Quebec creators to thrive has formed the basis of a fantastic partnership,” he continues. “The launch of Encore Plus represents the next evolution in our partnership that will make discoverability of Francophone content even easier, allowing new generations to access a diverse catalogue of some of Québec's most memorable classics such as Denis Villeneuve's 2008 short film Next Floor as well as La Petite Vie.”
More than a million Encore Plus viewers have watched the premiere episode of the classic sitcom La Petite Vie featuring the over-the-top working-class Paré family. They have also flocked to the site’s children’s programs, including the award-winning shows Cornemuse, featuring a group of talking animals led by a gentle canine veterinarian, and the effervescent teenage dramedy Watatatow.
French-Canada is known as a breeding ground for world-class creativity and directing talent. Among the feature film offerings on Encore Plus, viewers can enjoy Robert Lepage’s Mondes possibles, Louis Bélanger’s Gaz Bar Blues, Mireille Dansereau’s L’Arrache-coeur, André Forcier’s Une histoire inventée and Léa Pool’s The Blue Butterfly.
One of the most interesting things to come out of the pandemic is the fact that so many of us are sharing and talking about what we are watching at home. Canadian actor, writer and director Sarah Polley once said, “telling stories is our way of coping, a way of creating shape out of a mess. It binds everyone together.”
Think of Encore+ and Encore Plus as the glue that binds Canadians together, offering us the chance to relive our favourite entertainment moments and discover new ones.