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Man Alive: McClure in Borneo

It was religious programming that didn't preach. When Man Alive debuted on Sunday afternoons in 1967, its non-denominational, magazine-style approach differed from any other religion-based program in CBC history. After two seasons, the CBC-TV program moved to a weeknight, becoming North America's only prime time program focusing on religious issues. Over the years, Man Alive featured an eclectic range of topics — from marriage, to apartheid, to UFOs. Roy Bonisteel was host from 1967 until he retired in 1989, after which hosts included Peter Downie, Arthur Kent and R.H. Thompson, who hosted until the program's end in 2000.

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At 72, an age when most people are happily retired, the "irrepressible Canadian medical missionary" Robert McClure is still hard at work on the island of Borneo in Southeast Asia. In this hour-long 1972 episode of Man Alive, we learn all about McClure's fascinating experiences in Borneo. The doctor says he'll continue doing medical missionary work abroad for as long as he can: "As long as there is tread on the tire, one should not be afraid of the occasional road race."
• Dr. Robert McClure was born in 1900 to missionary parents in China. He trained as a physician and surgeon at the University of Toronto and returned to China in 1923 to work as a medical missionary. He served as field director for the International Red Cross after war broke out between China and Japan in 1937.

• McClure's work took him to Gaza in the early 1950s, and in 1954 he became superintendent of the hospital at Ratlam, India.

• In 1968 McClure returned to Canada to take over as moderator of the United Church of Canada. He was the first non-ordained person to hold the post.
• After he stepped down as moderator in 1971, McClure continued to travel the world, practicing medicine in Borneo, Peru, the Caribbean and Congo, formerly known as Zaire. He also worked in an aboriginal community on the coast of British Columbia.

• Borneo is a large island in Southeast Asia containing Indonesia, Malaysia and Brunei. It is the third largest island in the world.

• McClure was awarded the Man of the Year Peace Prize from the Lester B. Pearson Peace Park in 1985. He died in 1991 at age 90.

Medium: Television
Program: Man Alive
Host: Roy Bonisteel
Broadcast Date: Dec. 18, 1972
Guest: Robert McClure
Duration: 54:52
Co-production with Religious Television Associates (United Church of Canada)

Last updated: March 3, 2014

Page consulted on May 15, 2014

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