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Media pioneer a 'driving force'; Baxter Ricard developed radio, television and cable TV networks.

Media pioneer a 'driving force'

Born in Verner in 1905, Baxter Ricard is still an active driving force in the media industry of Northern Ontario.

Ricard is president and chairman of Northern Cable Holdings Ltd. and he is also the company's principal shareholder.

The name 'Ricard' can be traced back many decades to a small hardware store named Ricard's Hardware on Lisgar Street in Sudbury. It was here, working in his father's store, that Baxter Ricard acquired his business education.

Ricard purchased the store from his father and ran it for about 10 years.

While in his late 40s, Ricard gathered together a group of local businessmen in 1947 to create CHNO - the first bilingual radio station outside of Quebec. He later divided the station into English and French stations and added an FM station, as well.

Ricard purchased CKSO from Timmins entrepreneur Conrad Lavigne, sewing up the television broadcasting business in Timmins, North Bay and Sudbury.

In 1975 with a number of other Northern entrepreneurs, he established a cable television service in the north.

Last year Northern Cable Holdings, a company formed by the Northern Ontario shareholders of Northern Cable Services Ltd., purchased the outstanding shares held by CUC Broadcasting Ltd. of Scarborough. CUC, one of the original shareholders, had 48 per cent of the outstanding shares.

Ricard said the change to full ownership by northerners was a long-standing goal from the time the company was formed in 1974 to provide cable television services to Northern Ontario residents.

Ricard's entrepreneurial talent, leadership qualities and successes are perhaps best reflected in the network of radio and television stations he built from Ottawa to Sault Ste. Marie and from North Bay to Hudson Bay. These include Mid-Canada Communications, Ottawa Valley Broadcasting and Sudbury Broadcasting. In Northern Ontario these operations employ 600 people.

Northern Holdings has divested itself of its radio operations and is in the process of selling its television stations as well.

Mid-Canada Radio, which includes stations in Sudbury, Sault Ste. Marie, Espanola, Blind River, Elliot Lake and Timmins, was sold to Pelmorex Broadcasting Ltd. of Mississauga earlier this year.

Northern Cable Holdings recently sold its Mid-Canada CBC and CTV affiliates in Sudbury, Elliot Lake, Timmins, Kapuskasing and North Bay to Baton Broadcasting. The sale was approved in October by the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission.

Ricard was also a force behind the drive to establish urban renewal in Sudbury. As chairman of the Sudbury Urban Renewal Commission, he spearheaded the revival of downtown Sudbury by developing long-term rezoning and construction plans for the Elm and Borgia streets area.

Ricard has always given generously of his time to numerous community and professional committees. He has served as chairman or president of several organizations including the board of governors of Sudbury General Hospital, the Sudbury Planning board, the Sudbury and District Chamber of Commerce, the Kiwanis Club and the Richelieu Club.

Ricard was honored in 1987 for his service to the community when he received an honorary doctorate of law from Laurentian University. Ecole Felix Ricard was named in honor of his father's contribution to the Sudbury District Roman Catholic School Board.

Most recently, Ricard's company donated $30,000 to the Laurentian University development campaign for the construction of a library and student services centre.

Ricard was honored by his wife, Alma, earlier this year when she pledged $600,000 for the construction of a student residence at Cambrian College in his name.
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Title Annotation:Northern Ontario Business Awards Thunder Bay 1990; Entrepreneur of the Year
Publication:Northern Ontario Business
Article Type:Biography
Date:Dec 1, 1990
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