CC, LLD (hc), DLitt (hc)
Peter Gzowski at CBC Radio
|Born||Peter John Gzowski
July 13, 1934
Toronto, Ontario, Canada
|Died||January 24, 2002
Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Peter John Gzowski (known colloquially as Mr. Canada) CC (July 13, 1934 - January 24, 2002) was a Canadian broadcaster, writer and reporter, most famous for his work on the CBC radio show Morningside. His first biographer argued that Gzowski's contribution to Canadian media must be considered in the context of efforts by a generation of Canadian nationalists to understand and express Canada's cultural identity. Gzowski wrote books, hosted television shows, and worked at a number of newspapers and at Maclean's magazine. It is estimated that he conducted 27,000 interviews as host of Morningside. Gzowski was known for a friendly but at times somewhat gruff interviewing style.
Life and career
Gzowski was born in Toronto, Ontario, the son of Margaret McGregor (née Young) and Harold Edward Gzowski. His paternal great-great-grandfather was Polish-born Sir Casimir Gzowski, a prominent engineer. Gzowski was admitted to Ridley College in St. Catharines, Ontario. He attended the University of Toronto but never graduated; he was later awarded 11 honorary degrees. Midway through university, he took time off to work for the Timmins Daily Press. During his last year, 1956–57, at the U of T, he edited the student newspaper The Varsity. In the spring of 1957, he became city editor of the Moose Jaw Times-Herald. After a few months in Moose Jaw, he was hired by the Chatham Daily News. In September 1958, he joined the staff of Maclean's magazine. When he was 28 he became the youngest-ever managing editor of Maclean's. In the 1960s he moved to the Toronto Star and became the last editor of The Star Weekly magazine until it was sold in 1968.
His first regular radio show was Radio Free Friday, 1969-1970. In 1971 he became host of radio the CBC's This Country in the Morning. From 1976 to 1978 he hosted the television show 90 Minutes Live on CBC Television. In 1982 he returned to his former morning radio program, which had by now been renamed Morningside, where he remained until 1997. He also narrated a few Heritage Minutes. He returned to Moose Jaw, to host his last episode of Morningside from the Temple Gardens Mineral Spa Resort. In 1986, Gzowski held the first fundraising golf tournament for literacy, a cause that was very important to him. That tournament has evolved and is now held in every province and territory of Canada and has raised more than $13-million for volunteer-based literacy programs. Gzowski died of emphysema in Toronto on 24 January 2002. He had defended his smoking by saying that the taxes on his cigarettes would more than cover any increased health costs his smoking would cause. However, at the end, he publicly acknowledged that he was wrong, and that his recent healthcare expenses dwarfed the taxes he had paid.
Gzowski was divorced from his first wife, Jennie Lissaman, from Brandon, Manitoba, whom he met while residing in Moose Jaw and with whom he had five children (Alison, Maria, Peter, John and Mick). He was survived also by two common-law partners, Jan Walter and Gillian Howard, whom he called his "Partner for Life". Gzowski was the father of a son, born in 1961, from an extra-marital relationship.
- 1974, 1985, 1987 ACTRA Awards for the best host-interviewer on radio
- 1981 - National Magazine Award for his profile of Wayne Gretzky
- 1982 - Became host of Morningside on September 6.
- 1984 - Honorary Doctor of Letters, University of New Brunswick
- 1986 - Officer of the Order of Canada
- 1988 - Honorary Doctor of Laws, Trent University
- 1997 - International Peabody Award for broadcasting
- 1997 - Gold Medal from the Royal Canadian Geographical Society
- 1998 - Companion of the Order of Canada.
- 1999 - Appointed Chancellor of Trent University, a position he held until his death
- 2002 - The Peter Gzowski Foundation for Literacy was funded by the federal government and named in honour of Gzowski's work in promoting literacy in Canada
- 2003 - Gzowski College at Trent University opens in honour of Peter Gzowski
- 2006 - The Peter Gzowski Festival of Stories
- 2006 - Georgina Public Libraries renamed their Sutton Branch the Peter Gzowski Branch
- Scottish post-rock band Mogwai use an audio recording of Gzowski's interview with Iggy Pop in the song "Punk Rock", the first song from their album Come on Die Young.
- Gzowski co-wrote the song, "One Single River" with Ian Tyson. The song - advocating Canadian unity - was performed by Ian and Sylvia, as well as by Bob Dylan and The Band in their 1967 "Basement session".
By Peter Gzowski
- The Sacrament: a true story of survival
- A Peter Gzowski Reader
- Game of Our Lives
- Morningside Papers
- New Morningside Papers
- Fourth Morningside Papers
- Fifth Morningside Papers
- Latest Morningside Papers
- The Morningside Years
- Cabin at Singing River: Building a Home in the Wilderness with Chris Czajkowski
- Friends, Moments, Countryside
- The Private Voice, A Journal of Reflections
- Peter Gzowski's Spring Tonic
- Peter Gzowski's book about This Country in the Morning
- The Great Canadian Literary Cookbook with Kim Lafave
- Total Gretzky: The Magic, the Legend, the Numbers
- Unbroken Line
- Celebration of Peter Gzowski
- The afterword for New Canadian Library edition of The Incomparable Atuk by Mordecai Richler
About Peter Gzowski
- Peter Gzowski: An Electric Life by Marco Adria, ECW Press, Toronto, 1994.
- Remembering Peter Gzowski: A Book of Tributes by Edna Barker and Shelagh Rogers
- Aleksandra Ziółkowska-Boehm "Dreams and Reality" Toronto 1984,
- Aleksandra Ziółkowska-Boehm "Kanada, Kanada..." Warszawa 1986
- Peter Gzowski: A Biography by R.B. Fleming, Dundurn Press, Toronto, 2010.
- Adria, Marco Peter Gzowski: An Electric Life (Toronto: ECW Press, 1995).
- Calgary Herald Soak up Canadian history in Saskatchewan
- CBC obituary: 'Broadcasting's Mister Canada' by Martin O'Malley and Blair Shewchuk
- New York Times obituary
- CBC Digital Archives – Peter Gzowski: Voice of Canada
- CBC Calgary site contains tributes to Gzowski and audio files of the last Morningside show
- Order of Canada Citation
- 'Peter Gzowski and the Canadian Conversation' by Marco Adria
- 'I Remember Peter Gzowski,' by Steve Holt
|Chancellor of Trent University