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Growing up at the McLuhans’

The Story

As boys at bedtime in the dark, Marshall McLuhan and his brother Maurice huddled listening to the crystal radio set Marshall had built. Even as a child living in Edmonton, Marshall was always interested in the latest technology, recalls Maurice about his older brother. Before the two boys were born, the McLuhan family moved from the small town of Creighton, Alta. to Edmonton. It was on the initiative of Marshall's mother Elsie, who desired a larger stage to play out her career as a schoolteacher. Partial to successful and intelligent men, she swayed Marshall's father Herbert to give up his preferred rural prairie for a real estate career in the big town.

Medium: Radio
Program: IDEAS
Broadcast Date: Nov. 17, 1980
Guest(s): Maurice McLuhan
Host: Derrick de Kerckhove
Duration: 1:47

Did You know?

• Herbert Marshall McLuhan was named after his father and went by his middle name. He was born on July 21, 1911 in Edmonton. His mother Elsie, originally from Nova Scotia, had two boys. Marshall's father Herbert was from a small town outside of Barrie, Ont. called Luther.
• As a boy, Marshall was very quiet and borderline anti-social. This phase passed during his early teens when he joined Boy Scouts and began playing baseball.

• Marshall's mother first taught at the Creighton, Alta. schoolhouse in 1908.
• At a 1938 summer theatre workshop in St. Louis, Missouri, Elsie met Corinne Lewis, Marshall's future wife. Elsie said she wanted Corinne, an aspiring actress and high-school teacher from Fort Worth, Texas, to meet her "handsome son" Marshall who was coming for a visit the following week.

• In 1939 Marshall married Corinne even though there was a flurry of disapproval from her family, who forbade Corinne to date or even befriend anyone the family hadn't known for two generations. After the marriage, Corinne and her mother-in-law developed a close relationship.


Marshall McLuhan, the Man and his Message more