Farewell Stuart – The Argus pays tribute to a fellow storyteller

By: Olivia Levesque, Arts and Culture Editor

The host of CBC Radio’s The Vinyl Café, an award-winning humorist, and Canada’s best

Stuart McLean – Peter Pelisek / Flickr Creative Commons

storyteller has passed away at age 68 after a long battle with Melanoma.

The Vinyl Cafe Announced on February 15th of his passing, along with some encouraging words in a time of such sadness. “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”.

In 2015 Stuart McLean announced that he was cancelling the rest of his Vinyl Cafe Christmas tour to focus on fighting his already year long battle with Melanoma, but not before he paid a visit to Thunder Bay. Unknowingly, McLeans final show was at the Thunder Bay Community Auditorium in November of 2015. Previous writers of The Argus was in Attendance and wrote about the buzz in the air amongst his presence.

McLean taught Canadians the importance and impact of story telling through timeless tellings of relatable stories and observations of everyday life. For more than 20 years he was a regular weekend guest in the homes of his listeners and offered a connection though stranger stories and familiar stories surrounding characters like Dave and Morely, and the hum of his narrators voice.

For someone like myself as a young aspiring storyteller, the loss of McLean has been woefully heartbreaking but proves to us how important the role of storytellers truly are. The length of McLeans career is equivalent to the span of my lifetime, leaving me with the feeling that I’ve grown up with his familiar voice.

The passing of the icon has lead to many recounting stories already told and personal memories of Stuart, even just as a voice over the radio. For myself,  I remember being young and thinking that Mclean was a priest because of the way he spoke so eloquently but in a welcoming tone.

Although he wasn’t a priest, he was a professor emeritus at Ryerson University in Toronto, where he taught broadcast journalism for 20 years, beginning in the mid-1980s. It is known that McLean had a passion for sharing the work of aspiring writers and mentoring along the way.

The power of a story teller comes from being able to capture a single moment and proving it to be notable by way of emotion and the meticulous rendering of its significance. McLean knew exactly how to capture moments and made them accessible to us through laughter and thought, and sometimes tear shed. As young writer I feel grateful in learning that all stories are worth telling, especially in time where journalist are consistently being challenged in their trade. Stuarts McLeans legacy already proves that the connections he’s made big and small are unbreakable. Thanks for everything you’ve shared, Stuart.