Saint John — According to research conducted by New Brunswick-based media watchdog NB Matters, not only did the Great Saint John Fire of 1877 not make it onto The National with Peter Mansbridge at the time of the event, but it was not covered by CBC radio, CBC television or CBC online.
The publishing of the study has sparked an outcry in a province that has for years complained of under-representation in the national media.
“This problem was and is endemic to our region,” said Gerald McTavish, founder and president of NB Matters. “I should say though it has gotten better in the past 140 years. It picks up a bit after 1936.”
The Manatee confirmed the findings of NB Matters by running Google searches of “Great Saint John Fire” and “Great Saint John Fire 1877.” Neither of the searches returned CBC links dated before 1994.
“It wasn’t mentioned by the CBC online for 117 years. It’s as though they were trying to sweep it under the rug,” said McTavish. “So it begs the question: who really started that fire?”
CBC issued a statement wherein it apologizes for its failure to cover the event, while denying responsibility for the fire itself.
“It is true that the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, established in 1936, failed to cover the Great Saint John Fire of 1877. We regret that we didn’t try to do more at the time and look forward to helping the city and region as it continues in the healing process.”
Manatee staff reached out to Peter Mansbridge and asked if he intends to apologize personally. Mansbridge refused to comment.