20 Highlights from
20 Years on CBC Radio

AT 20

JUNE 27, 2020
Cindy Blackstock
Joan Didion
Anita Hill
Karen Levine
Rachel Matlow
Alisa Siegel
Karin Wells
+ More

Over its 20 seasons with host Michael Enright, The Sunday Edition has been a weekend ritual for millions of Canadians with its award-winning documentaries and interviews with some of Canada’s — and the world’s — sharpest minds, greatest writers and most colourful personalities as well as newsmakers at the heart of some of the biggest stories of our times. Here are some highlights from 20 years of The Sunday Edition, selected by Michael and The Sunday Edition staff.

Montage: Andrew McManus/CBC


2001 Documentary
Hana’s Suitcase by Karen Levine


A half-century after 13-year-old Hana Brady was murdered at Auschwitz, a suitcase unites her surviving brother in Canada with an educator in Japan. A story of three generations and three continents, “Hana’s Suitcase” won the Gold Medal at the New York Festivals Radio Awards and is now a book for young readers published in more than 50 countries.

Photo: GK Hart/Vikki Hart/Getty Images; Montage: Andrew McManus/CBC

2003 Documentary​
Beethoven’s Bust by David Gutnick



In 2003, as piano teacher Daniel Mergler lay dying of colon cancer, he found comfort in his remarkable relationship with a nine-year-old pupil, a Chinese immigrant girl named Xin Ben. David Gutnick’s documentary won the Gold Medal at the New York Festivals, and the story inspired David’s children’s book, Mr. Mergler, Beethoven and Me.

Photo: Mario Cabrera/The Associated Press; Montage: Andrew McManus/CBC


2004 Interview
Jimmy Breslin


Jimmy Breslin was a legend in the newspaper world. As a columnist, reporter and investigative journalist in New York City, he spent time with working-class people, gangsters and thieves. He told their stories with colour, compassion, and when called for, no small measure of rage. On Breslin’s 74th birthday, The Sunday Edition broadcast Michael’s interview with him about the book he had just published, The Church that Forgot Christ, about the child sexual abuse scandal in the Catholic Church. He was white-hot with anger and had very publicly left the Catholic Church himself.

Photo: JENNIFER LAW/Getty Images; Montage: Andrew McManus/CBC

2006 Interview
Anita Hill



In 1991, the world was transfixed by Anita Hill’s testimony that U.S. Supreme Court nominee Clarence Thomas sexually harassed her when he was her boss. Race, gender and sex — and their convergence with politics and the law — erupted into our consciousness with her allegations. In 2006, 15 years after her testimony, Michael interviewed Hill about that experience and what had and had not changed since.

Photo: AFP/GETTY IMAGES; Montage: Andrew McManus/CBC

2008-9 Series
20 Pieces of Music That Changed the World



Of all the series The Sunday Edition has run over the years, the most enduringly popular was Robert Harris’s idiosyncratic and fascinating survey of landmark music. In conversation with Michael, Harris explains why each piece made such an impact on the hearts and minds of listeners that they became part of the cultural firmament for decades or even centuries. In this episode, Harris discusses a particular favourite of Michael’s — Louis Armstrong’s seminal recording, West End Blues.

Photo: Fred Chartrand/The Canadian Press; Montage: Andrew McManus/CBC


2010 Documentary
The Women Are Coming by Karin Wells


The story of a brazen, determined group of young women from British Columbia who in 1970 took their fight for reproductive rights on a cross-country cavalcade all the way to Ottawa. It culminated in high drama as supporters chained themselves to their seats in the House of Commons’ visitors gallery, bringing the issue of abortion to national and international attention. Documentary producer Karin Wells has written a new book about it: The Abortion Caravan: When Women Shut Down Government in the Battle for the Right to Choose.

Photo: Franco Origlia/Getty Images; Montage: Andrew McManus/CBC

2011 Interview
Gore Vidal



Few writers nursed grudges and relished goading his rivals with exquisitely phrased insults quite like Gore Vidal. He was elegantly combative and merciless in tearing people to shreds with his wit, so Michael had to be on his toes in this interview, in which Vidal was as charismatic, outrageous and quotable as ever.

Photo: Henry Clarke/Condé Nast/Getty Images; Montage: Andrew McManus/CBC

2011 Interview
Joan Didion



Joan Didion has been one of the most renowned writers in the United States for decades. But Didion’s greatest work as a writer came as she reckoned with loss and personal tragedy of the most profound sort — the sudden death of her husband and of her only child, Quintana. She wrestled with her grief in two memoirs, The Year of Magical Thinking and then Blue Nights — a rumination on motherhood, frailty, aging and loss published shortly before this interview.

Photo: David Gutnick/CBC; Montage: Andrew McManus/CBC

2012 Documentary
The Gristle in the Stew by David Gutnick



This is the story of two women with intellectual disabilities, the abuse and isolation they experienced as children at the Huronia Regional Centre in Ontario, and their fight for compensation and recognition. David Gutnick’s documentary won the United Nations award at the New York Festivals.

Photo: Sean Kilpatrick/Canadian Press; Montage: Andrew McManus/CBC


2013 Panel
What Do We Owe the Future?

Photos: Sean Kilpatrick/Canadian Press, AFP & Gary Sealey
Photo: Second Story Press; Montage: Andrew McManus/CBC

2014 Documentary
A Place for Konisola by Alisa Siegel



It’s a story of generosity, of how open-hearted strangers helped a gravely ill refugee mother from Nigeria, and how coincidences and human connections gave a young girl a new life in Canada. Alisa Siegel’s documentary won the Registered Nurses Association of Ontario’s Best In-depth Feature Award and a Silver Medal at the New York Festivals. It has also been adapted into a children’s book by Siegel, My Name is Konisola.

Photo: National Library of Ireland/Wikimedia; Montage: Andrew McManus/CBC

2016 Special
The Triumph of Failure: Ireland 1916



On Easter weekend in 1916, a ragtag band of Irish poets, intellectuals, dreamers and militant nationalists tried to assert Ireland’s independence from Britain. The rebellion was doomed from the start, but the brutal reprisals inflicted by the British helped galvanize Ireland’s eventual march to independence. In 2016, The Sunday Edition went to Dublin as the country was gearing up for the centenary of the Easter Rising. Michael interviewed many of Ireland’s leading historians and cultural figures about the events of 1916, the legacy of the Rising and the dramatic change Ireland has undergone in the 21st century.

Photo: Courtesy of Family; Montage: Andrew McManus/CBC

2016 Documentary
Dead Mom Talking by Rachel Matlow



Who would you most want to talk to about losing your mom? Rachel Matlow’s inventive, intimate documentary reaches back and creates a compelling encounter with the mother they lost too soon. Matlow won the Gabriel Award and the 2016 Third Coast Best New Artist Award for “Dead Mom Talking,” which has now been adapted into a memoir called Dead Mom Walking.

Photo: Beacon Press; Montage: Andrew McManus/CBC

2016 Special
The Meaningful Man



A chronicle of survival and a call to life, Viktor Frankl’s Man’s Search for Meaning is part memoir, part manifesto and part discourse on human psychology. Written in 1946 after Frankl survived four Nazi concentration camps, Man’s Search for Meaning explored how to find meaning in the face of suffering. Seven decades after it was first published, this special hour — which won a Gabriel Award — assesses the book’s legacy and its enduring power to change people’s lives, generation after generation.

Photo: Mark Humphrey/AP; Montage: Andrew McManus/CBC

2016 Interview
Steve Earle



Steve Earle is not just one of the greatest songwriters of the past 40 years. He’s also one of the best storytellers ever to walk into The Sunday Edition’s studio. In this freewheeling and highly entertaining interview, Earle talks about mentors like Guy Clark and Townes Van Zandt, his travails in the music industry, his battles with addiction and his advocacy for inmates on death row.

Photo: Craig Barritt/Getty Images; Montage: Andrew McManus/CBC


2016 Interview
Anne Carson


Before the advent of social media poets, Anne Carson was the closest thing Canada had to a celebrity poet, and she has won pretty much every prize and honour available. She also has a towering global reputation as a poet, translator and classics scholar. But she’s notoriously reluctant to speak with the media, so it was a very special moment when she sat down for a feature interview shortly upon the publication of her 2016 collection, Float.

Photo: Courtesy of family; Montage: Andrew McManus/CBC

2018 Documentary
Just to Have Had You by Alisa Siegel



In 1994, Placide Rubabaza fled his home in war-torn Burundi and landed in Fort Erie, Ont. He was just 19 years old and alone. He developed a deep connection with Patricia Anzovino, the “refugee lady” who helped him to start over in Canada and pursue his dreams. Nearly 25 years after they first met, Anzovino struggles with dementia and Rubabaza is a doctor. “Just to Have Had You” chronicles this unlikely pair's remarkable journey of friendship and mutual support and won both a Gabriel Award and the United Nations Award at the New York Festivals.

Photo: Harry Palmer; Montage: Andrew McManus/CBC


2018 Documentary
One Judge Down by Bonnie Brown


“One Judge Down” tells the tragic story of how Supreme Court of Canada Justice Gerald Le Dain — in the throes of a struggle with serious depression — was forced to resign from his job in 1988. In the first public airing of what happened, legal scholars, colleagues and Le Dain’s daughter expose a system that made no room for a man with a brilliant mind who needed help and a chance to heal.

Photo: Vittorio Zunino Celotto/Getty Images; Montage: Andrew McManus/CBC


2018 Interview
David Grossman


David Grossman is one of Israel’s greatest living writers and a personal favourite of Michael’s. Grossman appeared on The Sunday Edition several times to discuss his fiction, as well as his loving, but complicated relationship with his homeland and his advocacy for peace and justice for Palestinians. This conversation was held before a live audience at the Glenn Gould Studio at the CBC Broadcast Centre, shortly after Grossman won the 2017 Man Booker Prize and the Israel Prize for Literature.

Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images; Montage: Andrew McManus/CBC


2019 Interview
RomÉo Dallaire


Canadian Gen. Roméo Dallaire led the UN peacekeeping mission in Rwanda, and his warnings to the world fell on deaf ears. Within 100 days, supporters of the Hutu majority government killed about 800,000 people, and Dallaire returned to Canada with PTSD and psychological scars he bears to this day. Twenty-five years after the genocide, Dallaire joined Michael for a searingly candid interview about that time, what the world did and didn’t learn from it and the toll it took on him.


The Sunday Edition at 20 bookshelf

A selection of books authored by guests featured in The Sunday Edition at 20.


The Sunday Edition at 20


Designed by Andrew McManus

Copy Edited by Brandie Weikle

Senior Producer
Andrew McManus

Ruby Buiza


The Sunday Edition

Acting Executive Producer
Chris Wodskou

Cate Cochran
Pauline Holdsworth
Talin Vartanian

Associate Producer
Donya Ziaee

Music & Technical Producer
Pete Morey

Documentary Editor
Karen Levine

Documentary Producers
David Gutnick
Alisa Siegel

Regular Contributor
Ira Basen

Digital Associate Producer
Tahiat Mahboob

Special Thanks
John Chipman
Jean Dalrymple
Frank Faulk
Brooke Forbes
Reynold Gonsalves
Linda Groen
Peter Kavanagh
Susan Mahoney
Lindsay Michael
Marjorie Nichol
Dean Ples
Linda Shorten
Mark Ulster
Ashley Walters
Karin Wells