Gone but not forgotten

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Gone but not forgotten

Postby Jack Bennest » Sat Mar 17, 2012 8:54 am

I get informed with every CBC person who has died and there are many each week - coast to coast. Thought I would share this one with you. A great guy that I worked along side with for many years on the beat - Roy Leblanc


Roy at CBC Vancouver in 1985, shortly before retiring

Sadly this brings the news that Roy LeBlanc passed away on February 18, 2012. Roy began his 30-year career as a freelance cameraman with CBC Vancouver Television News in 1956 and his retirement in April 1985 came about not because of his age but because of changing technological times and the demise of film. Roy is survived by his wife of 43 years, Lorraine, their son Jared and granddaughter Kamaira. He was 88 years of age.


The following article by Lorne Parton appeared in The Province newspaper on March 3, 1985 and is a fitting tribute to Roy - the man and the photographer.

You could call Roy LeBlanc the Will Rogers of local photojournalism. While he hasn’t come out and said, “I never shot a person I didn’t like,” you get the impression when he talks about the last 40 years.

Despite what you may have heard, Roy has not retired after 30 years of contract freelancing with the CBC. He has been unioned-teched out. Because the CBC has completely phased out news film in favor of magnetic tape, which is the jurisdiction of NABET, a union that doesn’t feel comfortable with the presence of freelancers.

Roy, who looks like a macro-cherub with a five-inch wide part in his hair, is careful about what he says about his age – as coy as a 1960’s movie star – and about CBC. One gets the impression that he is keeping the lines open in case the budget-battered corporation might have some work for him.

He was born in Moncton, N.B., quit school in Grade 9 to join the Royal Canadian Navy and served in another country (Newfoundland) during the Second World War.

Always a fiend with a box Brownie, he was trained in photography using complex cameras such as Rolleis – the Germans may have been the enemy, but they made good lenses – and 4-by-5s similar to the press Speed Graphics. (His officers there were Stu Keate, long-time later publisher of the Vancouver Sun, and Clyde Gilmour, who wrote movie reviews for The Daily Province and the Sun.)

Last week a couple of co-workers took Roy out for a farewell beer and steered him into a surprise party comprising more than 100 of his friends and admirers.

I suspect that the hard-bitten press photographer of 1948 would have been astounded at how much he would mellow in 35-plus years. That year was a watershed – no pun intended – for Roy because his coverage of the Fraser River flood (“I was the first photographer on the scene”) put his firm in the black.

Roy, who did freelance with The Columbian, the Sun and The Province, was sitting in a restaurant in Agassiz when a farmer came running down the street shouting, “The dykes have broken!”

Roy climbed a ladder to the roof of the local school and took the picture of the advancing Fraser, a picture that was picked up around the world and was used as the cover shot of Al Kipnes’s book on the flood, entitled Nature’s Fury.

That particular shot and the one of Ripple Rock stick in Roy’s memory as stupendous photos, but it was the people he photographed all the years with the newspapers and subsequently with the CBC that he recalls with fondness. And it seems that the most memorable were the ones he found the most pleasant. He rips off a list of names, and they represent B.C. history in the post-war era.

Fittingly, the one person he talks most of, the one he has the most respect for and the one he could never get really close to was W.A.C. Bennett.

“He always held something back,” says Roy. Other favorite people included Phil Gaglardi, John Diefenbaker, Lester Pearson …and Joe Philliponi.

“Joe was a true gentleman,” Roy says fondly.

You know? That’s the kind of word you could apply to Roy LeBlanc, and there are not too many news people that would fit that description
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Jack Bennest
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Re: Gone but not forgotten

Postby J Kendrick » Sat Mar 17, 2012 3:05 pm

A super guy, a great cameraman... and a very sad loss...

Godspeed, Roy .. R.I.P.
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