British Columbia·Q & A

'He brought Canada closer together': Stuart McLean's brother remembers his legacy

Alistair McLean, Stuart McLean's younger brother, recalls when he realised Stuart's talent.

Alistair McLean recalls when he realized his brother's talent


When iconic radio host Stuart McLean passed away, Canada lost a national treasure.

But Alistair McLean lost his big brother.

"It's still a shock," said McLean, who is four years junior to The Vinyl Café host. "We've known that things were progressing this way, but it's always still a shock when it does happen."

Stuart's two-year-long battle with melanoma ended tragically on Feb. 15, 2017.

His passing has been hard on his family; however, the outpouring of love and support they received from Canadians and the media has brought back many memories they hold dear.

Alistair McLean joined host Rick Cluff on CBC's The Early Edition to celebrate the his brother's life and recall the first moment he realized his talent.

Rick Cluff: First of all, condolences. What's it like to see and hear this outpouring of love and affection for your brother?

Alistair McLean, Stuart McLean's younger brother, visits CBC Radio in Vancouver on Feb. 16, 2017. (CBC)

It was very heartwarming to see the outreach. 

I've been receiving emails since it was announced yesterday. It's just been very supportive for the family during this time.

I've always understood the reach he had with the millions of people here in Canada, and around the world — but it really sinks in even more of how much he was loved by Canadians and others.

When you were growing up as brothers, did he tell stories? Did he make you laugh and entertain you then?

The first I remembered of him telling stories ... I must have been five or so, and he was four years older.

My parents were entertaining some people from London, England — from my father's head office. And he popped out from the curtains in the living room and started to give a kind of speech, much like a minister!

Then he passed around a little plate for collection. It sort of startled them. My parents would put little buttons in it — but the guests didn't know what to do.

That was my first memory of Stuart starting off on this journey of life

The guy who was most surprised by his success was Stuart. How did he deal with that in the family circle?

He was just still a brother. And to his kids, it did not go to his head. He was just an everyday person who was a listener and was able to take those little stories that he found from that every day person ... and make them into something that everyone can relate to.

He has that knack of listening and asking that right questions, of being able to draw information out. He's never been that athlete or that person, it's just one of these traits he excelled at. 

I think that was his knack and his talent.

How do you hope he's remembered?

I think the outpouring we've seen now. He was Canada's iconic storyteller. During the rest of my life, I don't think we'll see anybody like him.

He brought Canada closer together. He cared about Canada deeply, and from coast to coast to coast, he went and made a conscious effort to do shows in various small towns — the smallest was Rosebud, Alberta.

He did not shy away from that, and that was very important to him, and kids were very important to him.

This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.

With files from CBC's The Early Edition and BC Almanac

To listen to the full interview: 'He brought Canada closer together': Stuart McLean's brother remembers his legacy