JOHN "Jack" KELLUM Born in 1943, Jack grew up in Delhi, Ontario. A singer and a songwriter who spent his late teens and early twenties playing music in both the bars and coffee houses of Toronto's Yorkville neighborhood and the rough and tumble bar circuit of Northern Ontario. A temporary job scoring music for CBC Television in Toronto led to a position at a legendary CBC show entitled This Land. It was a show that celebrated and explored everything wonderful about Canada, especially life in its rural areas. It was a good fit. Because Jack loved the subject matter. He loved telling those stories. Eventually an opportunity came along that Jack was made for. In 1973, he somehow convinced his wife Maj to take a leap of faith and head all the way across the country to take a job at CBC television in St John's, NL. It was there that this son of the Ontario tobacco belt became the greatest supporter and defender of Newfoundland culture the province could have ever asked for. Jack turned the Newfoundland station into a regional production powerhouse, producing hours of original programming for and about the people of Newfoundland and Labrador. Soon after landing he quickly succeeded in achieving his number one goal, to produce a musical variety show from Newfoundland that would air on the national network. The show he produced was called Ryan's Fancy and for the first time Canadians saw the spectacular Newfoundland landscape in popular entertainment. It was a game changer for Newfoundland and a showcase of its rich artistic culture. It was Jack who next championed The Wonderful Grand Band, a hybrid of comedy and music, both popular and traditional and the most successful regional television show ever produced in Canada. The Wonderful Grand Band begat CODCO, a national comedy series which was both brilliant and relentlessly controversial, embodying a level of diversity new to national prime time tv. CODCO was followed by This Hour Has 22 Minutes, and Jack's fingerprints remain on the show to this day. In between, there were countless specials and productions all showcasing, celebrating, and promoting the country's rich culture, talent, history, and people. Jack was a great Canadian and a great TV producer. He believed in the CBC where he worked for 33 years. He saw it as integral to Canadian culture and the fabric of the nation, connecting Canadians from all three coasts and every point in between. His work has bolstered the careers of countless talented artists, casts and crews, and has been loved by audiences all across the country. He was a loving and devoted husband, father and grandfather. He was loved and will be deeply missed, by his family and many many dear friends. He leaves behind his wife Maj, children Penny (John Dibben) and Zach (Johanna Reynolds), and the productions of which he was most proud, his grandchildren Henry, Gray, Lily and Jules. Thank you to Rick Mercer for generously writing this obituary. In lieu of flowers please donate to the Trillium Gift of Life Network or Groves Memorial Hospital in Fergus Ontario.
Published in The Globe and Mail from Dec. 8 to Dec. 12, 2020.