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Goodbye from the Vinyl Cafe: Stuart McLean 1948-2017

We’re so very sad here  to learn that Stuart McLean has passed away. His stories were the soundtrack to so many Christmas Eves, so many roadtrips, and many family laughs. Have ever other fictional characters felt so real, and generated such camaraderie as Dave, Morley and their kids?  I find it impossible to imagine anyone reading or listening to “Dave Cooks the Turkey” from Home from the Vinyl Cafe and remaining composed. My face hurt at the end of it, the first time.

What a gift for storytelling McLean had.  He was born in Montreal in 1948, and certainly seemed to epitomize the nicest stereotypes about Canadians – he was gentle, kind, good-humored, and quirky. Following a brief flirtation with politics, McLean found the radio – specifically CBC Radio – in 1978. It was clearly the perfect arena for his talents. His journalistic efforts earned him an ACTRA award in 1979 for his work on a radio documentary exploring the Jonestown Massacre. When he published Stories from the Vinyl Cafe in 1995, and introduced us to Dave, Morley, Stephanie and Sam (as well as a host of other folks), he no doubt had little idea he was beginning the rest of his life. The books he wrote, 15 in all (and all but two from The Vinyl Cafe) won the Stephen Leacock Memorial Medal for Humour three times. The last instalment, Vinyl Cafe Turns the Page, was  published in 2015.

McLean was diagnosed with melanoma in November that year, and passed away today, February 15, 2017, at age 68. He will be sorely missed.

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