Peter Herrndorf, ‘Renaissance man’ of Canadian journalism and arts, dead at 82

Peter Herrndorf, an influential Canadian journalist and information programmer who later on headed the National Arts Centre in Ottawa, has died at age 82.

Matthew Herrndorf claimed his father died early Saturday early morning surrounded by household at a clinic in Toronto. The trigger was cancer. 

“He experienced a major and consequential and essential existence, and [it’s] really hard to set into text what he meant to us and what he intended to Canada,” Matthew Herrndorf instructed The Canadian Push on Saturday.

Herrndorf joined the CBC in Winnipeg in 1965, finally turning out to be a vice-president, where he helped acquire extended-standing series which includes The Fifth Estate and The Journal.

He later on took on roles as publisher of Toronto Lifetime magazine, as properly as chairman and CEO of TVO.

Then, in 1999, he began a practically-19-12 months tenure as the president and CEO of the Nationwide Arts Centre (NAC), where he also served set up the Nationwide Arts Centre Basis and its Indigenous Theatre Department. 

What tied that assorted and storied profession together was Herrndorf’s passion for storytelling, reported Christopher Deacon, who succeeded Herrndorf as the head of the NAC in 2018. 

“Irrespective of whether it is really a significant tale that is heading to direct off the evening information or a story which is gonna captivate 2,000 men and women watching an opera or a participate in, the throughline was the way we convey to stories to connect, to locate meaning, and to share that which means and group,” Deacon instructed the CBC on Saturday.

Herrndorf took the helm of the Nationwide Arts Centre in 1999. (Fred Chartrand/The Canadian Press)

While calling Herrndorf a “outstanding” arts administrator, Deacon mentioned he was possibly a lot more impressive for his affability and openness. He pointed to Herrndorf’s everyday regimen of rubbing shoulders with every person from stagehands to performers in the NAC’s “eco-friendly area” or mess hall. 

“He saw that as a sort of crossroads exactly where anyone fulfilled on equivalent conditions,” Deacon reported. “I experienced the terrific satisfaction of observing how he did it. Peter made use of social capabilities to advance an agenda for the establishment.”

Love of deep discussions

Steve Paikin, the host of TVO’s flagship existing affairs software, The Agenda, stated he owed Herrndorf his prolonged job at TVO and that he’ll miss out on Herrndorf’s penchant for “deep conversations.” 

“He gave me just one of the very best strains after,” Paikin instructed the CBC. 

“He said, ‘If I want to have my senses assaulted by an thrilling sporting event, I will consider my son to a basketball match. But if I want to know what is likely on in my daughter’s lifetime, I am going to take her to a baseball recreation.'”

Herrndorf is found here hobnobbing in London when the NAC Orchestra toured the U.K. in 2014. (Fred Cattroll/National Arts Centre)

Paikin also valued Herrndorf’s open door plan, citing the “chairman’s breakfasts” where by every person was invited to speak their thoughts. 

“The a person matter you under no circumstances had to stress about when Peter Herrndorf was at the helm is whether he cared. You understood he cared,” Paikin said. “He was a accurate Renaissance person: journalism, the arts, tradition.”

Initial journalism, then the arts

Herrndorf was born in Amsterdam, lifted in Winnipeg, and obtained a political science and English degree from the College of Manitoba in 1962. He later examined regulation at Dalhousie College and acquired a master’s in administration from Harvard Organization University, his biography on the NAC’s web-site claimed.

His dad and mom moved to Winnipeg from Europe soon after the Second Earth War, he instructed the CBC’s Sunday Edition in a vast-ranging 2018 interview shortly right after he stepped down from the NAC.

“Component of how I learned currently being Canadian was by looking through Canadian textbooks [and] listening to CBC Radio,” he explained. 

Listen | Herrndorf looks back again on his storied existence and profession in 2018:

Sunday Edition37:36Peter Herrndorf on his illustrious career in the arts

As he prepares to leave the National Arts Centre, Peter Herrndorf talks about the rewards of a life in the arts, how he has pried funding from governments of all stripes, and why the CBC broke his heart.

Herrndorf commenced at the CBC as a reporter in Winnipeg. He eventually climbed the corporate ladder nearly to the prime, serving as vice president and common supervisor of English radio and tv from 1979 to 1983. 

He was involved in the development of programs these types of as The Fifth Estate, 90 Minutes Live and The Journal, and he also moved the national Television information from 11 to 10 p.m.

“Peter Herrndorf’s affect on and passion for Canada’s community broadcaster was profound,” Chuck Thompson, the CBC’s head of general public affairs, reported in an emailed statement. “Further than his huge impact on programming, he produced a change in so quite a few careers and constantly with kindness, wisdom and a great spirit.”

Herrndorf sat on the boards of dozens of arts institutions in excess of the yrs. (CBC)

Mark Starowicz, who executive-produced The Journal throughout Herrndorf’s time at the CBC, claimed quite a few Canadians have almost certainly by no means read of Herrndorf. 

“But he formed our life via what we saw on television in its greatest a long time and his tireless assistance of singers, writers, poets, orchestras and theatre,” Mark Starowicz said. “He was the greatest defender and champion of Canadian society of his generation.”

At TVO, Herrndorff assisted the station shake off its name at the time as a “incredibly pedagogical sort of teacher’s aide in the classroom,” Paikin mentioned. 

“He’s the guy who said TVO requires to be in the organization of performing a each day general public affairs method, in primetime, dwell each and every night. And that is what we did.”

‘I will cherish his last letter to me,’ inventive director states

Above the program of his job, Herrndorf sat on the boards of about 60 arts corporations, ranging from the Nationwide Magazine Awards to the Stratford Shakespearean Festival.

Antoni Cimolino, Stratford’s creative director, mentioned Herrndorf was a relentless clipper of posts he despatched to close friends.

“I will cherish his previous letter to me only a thirty day period back. The words and phrases of encouragement there will dwell on in my heart,” Cimolino mentioned by means of email. 

By the time he took the helm of the NAC, one of North America’s only bilingual accomplishing arts centre, in 1999, Herrndorf had a deep love of the arts, and a deep Rolodex as well. 

“As we traveled across Canada, he experienced roots of some sort in quite a few Canadian cities. He obviously crafted bridges everywhere he’d labored,” Deacon said.

Queen Elizabeth takes part in the unveiling of a statue of Canadian jazz legend Oscar Peterson, with Minister of Canadian Heritage and Official Languages James Moore, second from left, and National Arts Centre President Peter Herrndorf, left, at the NAC in Ottawa on Wednesday June 30, 2010. Oscar Peterson's daughter Celine looks on at back. The royal couple is on a nine-day tour of Canada. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
He was there when the late Queen Elizabeth visited the NAC in 2010. (The Canadian Press)

In addition to the NAC Basis and its Indigenous Theatre Office, Deacon credits Herrndorf with overseeing the generation of the Governor General’s Performing Arts Awards, the National Generation Fund, which supports the production of new works across the place, and the NAC’s scene festivals the place the centre celebrated the tradition and arts from distinct sections of Canada.

“Any 1 of those people would be sufficient to distinguish someone’s vocation,” Deacon claimed. “The point that he has half a dozen to his record just sets him aside.”

Herrndorf was awarded the Buy of Ontario in 2008 for possessing “revolutionized Canadian broadcasting, publishing and the carrying out arts” at the many corporations exactly where he served.

In 2017 he was promoted to the maximum rank of the Get of Canada for his “visionary management” in Canada’s cultural landscape. 

He afterwards gained the Life span Artistic Achievement Award from previous governor basic Julie Payette for the duration of the Governor General’s Executing Arts Awards at Rideau Hall in Ottawa in 2018. 

The NAC’s flags will fly at 50 percent-mast all of February in his honour, the firm mentioned in a information launch. 

Governor General Julie Payette promotes Peter Herrndorf, of Ottawa, to Companion of the Order of Canada during a ceremony at Rideau Hall, Wednesday, January 24, 2018 in Ottawa. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Former governor typical Julie Payette encourages Herrndorf to Companion of the Buy of Canada throughout a ceremony at Rideau Hall, on Jan. 24, 2018 in Ottawa. (THE CANADIAN Press)

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