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80th Anniversary of Just Mary

Posted On - Apr 04, 2018

Just Mary, Mary Grannan's signature radio program for children, was first broadcast on radio in November 1937 on CFNB Fredericton. The program was also carried on CBC for a number of months in 1938, but in September 1939, Mary Grannan and her Just Mary program moved to CBC Radio, beginning a long, successful radio broadcast run that continued until June 1962. As well, Just Mary was a CBC Television production for a short run from April to December 1960.

Grannan wrote and was the sole voice narrating the Just Mary  radio broadcast stories. She said she called the program Just Mary because it was only she doing it.

Her experience as a grade one teacher in New Brunswick, and her talents for storytelling and drama lay at the base of her success. She often wrote stories featuring children who had written to her, and during the CBC broadcast years, she often featured various CBC people in the stories. This habit helped to develop a devoted fan base of both children and adults.

Grannan credited J. Stewart Neill, the station owner of CFNB Fredericton, for her successful start in broadcasting, calling him her "great benefactor." Neill had urged her to develop a children's program after she had done a couple of adult radio programs for the station. Neill scheduled the new Just Mary program to be broadcast on Sunday evenings between two highly popular other shows. Listeners could not miss it.

In addition to the broadcasts, selected stories appeared in fifteen books, the majority published in Canada by Thomas Allen, with a few published in the United States and the United Kingdom.

Mary Grannan developed many other radio and television programs during her career at CBC. Maggie Muggins was undoubtedly her most successful creation, appearing first as a book published by Thomas Allen in 1944, then a CBC Radio program from 1947 to 1953, then a CBC Television program from 1955 to June 1962, and in 18 best-selling books that were published between 1947 and 1985, most by Thomas Allen in Canada and some by Pennington Press in the United States. In November 1948, Maggie Muggins became a doll created by the Reliable Toy Company. 

80 years ago marked the launch of Just Mary and the highly successful career of the creative and talented Mary Grannan.