Stuart McLean

Andrew Stuart McLean, journalist, professor, radio host, author, humorist (born 19 April 1948 in Montréal, QC; died 15 February 2017). Stuart McLean attended high school at Lower Canada College and received a BA from Sir George Williams University (later called Concordia) in 1971.

mclean, stuart
journalist stuart mclean, producer of the award-winning radio program The Vinyl Caf\u00e9 (photo by Ben Flock).

Andrew Stuart McLean, OC, journalist, professor, radio host, author, humorist (born 19 April 1948 in Montréal, QC; died 15 February 2017 in Toronto, ON). An Officer of the Order of Canada, Stuart McLean created The Vinyl Cafe and was one of the CBC’s legendary radio personalities.

Early Life and Education

Andrew Stuart McLean was born in Montréal, the son of Andrew Thompson and Margaret Patricia McLean. He has often cited his childhood as a source of inspiration for his later work as a writer and radio host. “I grew up in Montreal West,”he said in a 2013 interview with The Toronto Star, “a community fenced in on three sides by railroad tracks. It created a sort of playground that was also a rock-solid place. My mom and dad had a fantastic marriage and all of that combined to make me feel I came from a place of safety and security and community.”

McLean attended high school at Lower Canada College and received a BA from Sir George Williams University (later called Concordia University) in 1971.

Early and Midcareer

McLeans’s interest in radio began in childhood, after his father bought him a Motorola transistor radio while he was sick in bed. A fascination and passion for the medium stayed with him ever since. In 1978, McLean got his first professional experience in radio, producing documentaries for the CBC radio program Sunday Morning. From 1982 to 1984, he acted as the show's executive producer. In the 1980s he appeared as a regular contributor and occasional host on CBC Radio's "Morningside," the national weekday morning show hosted by Peter Gzowski.

McLean's slice of life storytelling charmed listeners across the country, and his published collection of radio essays, The Morningside World of Stuart McLean (1989), became a Canadian bestseller and was a finalist for the 1990 City of Toronto Book Awards.

From 1984 to 2004, McLean was a professor of journalism at Ryerson Polytechnic Institute (now Ryerson University) in Toronto, where he remains professor emeritus.

The Vinyl Cafe

Stuart McLean created a radio program called The Vinyl Cafe in 1994 as a summer replacement show. With his signature understated humour, McLean recounts the exploits of a fictional family whose patriarch, Dave, owns "the world's smallest" record store. Aside from McLean’s story telling, a portion of The Vinyl Cafe is dedicated to musical performance.

By autumn 1997, the show was broadcast every Sunday at noon. In print as Stories from the Vinyl Cafe (1995), the book became a bestseller in Canada. A series of bestselling Vinyl Cafe collections followed. Home from the Vinyl Cafe won the Stephen Leacock Medal for Humour in 1999 and Vinyl Cafe Unplugged won the award for McLean again in 2001. A third Stephen Leacock Medal was awarded for Secrets from the Vinyl Cafe in 2007. McLean has added to the series with Extreme Vinyl Cafe (2009), Revenge of the Vinyl Cafe (2012), Time Now for the Vinyl Cafe Story Exchange (2013)and Vinyl Cafe Turns the Page (2015).

In 1998, Stuart McLean began taking the Vinyl Cafe on the road to theatres across the country. It is broadcast every week on CBC Radio and is also heard via satellite radio around the world and on public radio stations in the United States.

In 2015, McLean was diagnosed with melanoma. In 2016, he stepped down as the host of The Vinyl Cafe to focus on his health.


ACTRA Award for best radio documentary, for a program about the Jonestown Massacre (1979).

Rooke Fellowship for Excellence in Teaching, Writing and Research, by Trent University (1994-95).

Best non-fiction by the Canadian Authors' Association for Welcome Home: Travels in Smalltown Canada (1993).

Stephen Leacock Memorial Medal for Humour for Home from Vinyl Café (1999).

Stephen Leacock Memorial Medal for Humour for Vinyl Cafe Unplugged (2001).

Stephen Leacock Memorial Medal for Humour for Secrets from the Vinyl Café (2007).

Canadian Authors' Association Jubilee Award for Vinyl Cafe Diaries (2004).

Officer of the Order of Canada (2011).

Stuart McLean has received honorary doctorates from Trent University, University of Windsor, Nipissing University, Saint Mary's University, University of Calgary, Concordia University and McMaster University.

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