National Treasure #101: Stuart McLean

You’ll have heard, of course, that Stuart McLean died last week.  Maybe that’s part of what sets the bar for a person to be a national treasure: Their death is national news, on the understanding that everyone will know who they are.

I first heard Stuart on Peter Gzowski’s “Morningside” on CBC Radio, where he told stories about unknown but quirky Canadians from all parts of the country.  Starting in 1994, he produced The Vinyl Cafe and sold it to CBC for broadcast.  He also presented between 75 and 100 live shows a year for 14 years.  When was this guy ever at home?

On the announcement of his death, the tributes came in.  Well, they were news coverage of his death and recaps of his life, but in this case it amounts to the same thing.

National Post 

CBC News

Jim Taylor’s Blog

My favourite McLean work was the stories about Dave and Morley.  These are available on his site by podcast.

Here’s how that site summed him up:

Stuart always emphasized that the world is a good place, full of good people, trying to do their best. He believed in people’s extraordinary capacity for love and generosity. And he had faith in our ability to work together for the common good.

He was, in other words, firmly committed to celebrating the positive, joyful and funny side of life. Stuart assured us that even in difficult times, we can find things to be grateful for and ways to laugh. Now that he is gone, we will try hard to do just that.

Stuart connected us – to our country and to each other. He entertained us, he made us think, he made us smile. Occasionally he made us cry. And, through all of that, he reminded us that life is made up of small moments. We never know which ones will be forgotten and which ones will stay with us forever.

So today, and hopefully every day, we’re going to celebrate Stuart’s life by trying to make each moment count and by being grateful for all of them.

Here’s how he might have summed up his own philosophy:

Pledge of allegiance

Was he a perfect guy?  I don’t suppose so.  But a treasure, nonetheless. I’m sorry he’s gone.


This post is part of my  sesquicentennial project: 150 posts about Canadian national treasures – people (living or dead), places, and things that I think are worth celebrating.  I started 01 July 2016, and will finish on 30 June 2017.

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3 Comments

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3 Responses to National Treasure #101: Stuart McLean

  1. Pingback: National Treasure #102: Mordechai Richler | Traditional Iconoclast

  2. He personified my favourite motto: Be kind.
    You would think the text of his Pledge would be on-line somewhere…
    I can’t find it.
    There is a good article about him in Walrus magazine:
    https://thewalrus.ca/mister-nice-guy/

    Each week, when Vinyl Cafe began , I felt like I was slipping into a warm bath of pleasure. Good guy. Died much, much too young.