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Alistair MacLeod, acclaimed Canadian writer, dead at 77

Alistair MacLeod, one of Canada’s greatest short story writers whose work detailed the people and culture of Cape Breton, has died. He was 77.

MacLeod was appointed an Officer of the Order of Canada in 2008

Alistair MacLeod — from the CBC archives


7 years ago
The CBC's Tom Murphy profiled the acclaimed writer in 2001. 3:38

Alistair MacLeod, one of Canada’s great short story writers whose work detailed the people and culture of Cape Breton, has died. He was 77.

His death was confirmed by his friend, author Donna Morrissey.

"He was a beautiful friend, a mentor, a hero," she told CBC News. "He was just a force that we … looked up to him."

MacLeod was born in North Battleford, Sask. He moved with his family when he was 10 years old to Inverness County, N.S.

He authored two collections of short stories, The Lost Salt Gift of Blood (1976) and As Birds Bring Forth the Sun and Other Stories (1986).

He wrote the novel No Great Mischief (1999), which won the International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award, the Trillium Book Award and the Lannan Literary Award.

The Next Chapter with Shelagh Rogers

Saturday's April 26 episode will pay tribute to Alistair MacLeod, featuring highlights from Shelagh's conversations with him from over the years.

Read some of Shelagh's memories here.

In 2004, he also authored the illustrated story To Everything There Is a Season: A Cape Breton Christmas Story (2004).

His writing touched on themes of economic migration, family ties and tensions and portrayals of cultural decline.

MacLeod taught literature and creative writing at the University of Windsor and was retired. He would return to Inverness County during the summer, where he wrote in a cabin looking west towards Prince Edward Island.

In 2008, MacLeod was appointed an Officer of the Order of Canada for his commitment to Canadian literature and influence on Canadian authors.

"He was just this stable, stoic presence with his cap, that sombre expression that he always wore," Morrissey said.

"I used to be so intimidated by him. But he was always holding out his hand and saying, ‘Hello friend.’ That was his thing to say."


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