CORNWALL, Ontario – After a decades long career in community television that began in 1976, Bill Makinson has decided to hang up the boom mic, put away the camera, and say “that’s a wrap” on his last production.
Makinson, who’s started off as a volunteer with the then Rogers community TV station in Cornwall, announced on Thursday, May 27 that his last day with what is now YourTV Cornwall will be June 4. He is retiring and moving to Amherstview near Kingston, ON to be closer to one of his two daughters, and grandchildren.
Born and raised in Cornwall, Makinson began in 1976 with his first gig as a volunteer cameraman covering Cornwall City Council and home games of the Cornwall Royals junior hockey team. In 1978 music fans might remember Makinson’s weekend show “Playback ’78” which ran Friday and Saturday evenings and Sunday afternoons for six months. Makinson would play favourite records on that show, hold quizzes and take calls from viewers. The experience he got with music on that show lead him to a short stint as the DJ for Disco Wheels in 1979.
While continuing to volunteer occasionally in community television with Cogeco, Makinson began his career at the Domtar paper mill in 1984. In 1995 Makinson was drawn back into television with his participation in Public Service Announcement Safety Day videos made for Domtar. Through the creation of these videos, Makinson reconnected with Calvin Killoran of Cogeco in 1995. Calvin eventually helped him get a part-time job at Cogeco.
One of the major events that Makinson covered during this time was the Special Olympics Opening Ceremoney that was being held in Cornwall. Makinson remembers Bruce Maynard leased a satellite feed which broadcast the images Makinson was recording on a handheld camera for Rogers across Ontario.
“That was one of the major events that I covered early on,” he said.
Makinson found himself wearing both hats in Dec. 2005 when Domtar announced that it would be ceasing operations in Cornwall, going from hearing the news to covering the reactions of his colleagues.
Shortly after Domtar closed, Makinson began his full-time career in community television.
Makinson remembers covering major community events in his time at YourTV, including the Shorty Jenkins Curling Classic that was held in Cornwall in 2017, 2018, and 2019, as well as three Ontario Men’s Curling championship tournaments. Makinson also fondly remembers interviewing individuals such as the late Max Keeping whenever he was in Cornwall for events such as the United Way of SD&G Fall Campaign launch.
“He always stopped for an interview and was so nice to talk to,” Makinson remembers.
Makinson said that one thing he’s always enjoyed about working in community TV in Cornwall is just how close-knit the Cornwall community is.
“Being able to have a chat with your mayor one-on-one and you aren’t talking about city issues, you’re just talking about family,” he said.
Not only has Makinson been involved in community television, he’s also been serving the community itself. His community involvement began in 2006 when Darcy Grant recruited him onto the board of Big Brothers/ Big Sisters Cornwall, where he eventually became Board Vice President, and then Board President.
Makinson also became involved with the MS Golf Tournament with Todd Lalonde. When that event looked like it would cease after 25 years, Makinson stepped up to help keep it going alongside Karen Torrie-Racine.
Makinson also chaired the United Way of SD&G’s Fall Campaign for two years, and more recently has helped run the Crafting a Cure fundraiser in support of the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation.
He says that his community involvement both professionally and altruistically was possible thanks to the support of his family.
“You can’t do these things without the support of your family,” he said. “My wife (Sue) has always been there. I’ve missed birthdays and family events and she has been far more than supportive and so have my kids. I can’t thank my family enough and I can’t thank this community enough.”
Makinson says that he looks forward to his retirement and that he and Sue have found a house in the same neighbourhood as their daughter, son-in-law and grandchildren in Amherstview.