Allan Lindsay "Chopper" McKinnon, a driving force in the Ottawa roots and folk scene and radio host at CKCU for more than three decades, has died of natural causes. He was 66.

McKinnon started the weekly folk and roots show Canadian Spaces on the Carleton University radio station in 1980 and he was on the air for 33 years. It was Canada's longest-running folk music radio program.

The show had the highest donation base of any show on CKCU, according to Chris White, a volunteer host on Canadian Spaces and colleague of McKinnon's.

McKinnon also chose music for a number of years for CBC Radio in Ottawa, including on All in a Day.

A life-long passion for folk and roots music scene

Friends of McKinnon praised his passion for the music scene and how he championed local artists. 


Chopper McKinnon had been spinning folk and roots records for more than three decades at CKCU-FM. (Facebook)

"He was bigger than life for me," said Juno Award-winning singer-songwriter Lynn Miles. "He was at the centre of the roots scene in Ottawa and I really wanted him to like me, I wanted him to like my music."

"He has always been there and supported me for 35 years," said Miles.

Miles and Ottawa Folklore Centre founder Arthur McGregor told Alan Neal on All in a Day that Chopper had been in poor health in recent years, but Saturday mornings were always a highlight for him.

"He lived for that show," said McGregor. "It's going to be a huge emptiness without him."

Friends of McKinnon were gathering at Irene's pub on Bank Street to remember their colleague.

"It'll probably go late," Miles joked.