Wednesday, 17 March 2010

Liston Burns McIlhagga (Senior)

Liston Burns McIlhagga

Liston Burns' nephew and names-sake contributed the following to our Clan Newsletter in 2006 under the title 'Actor to TV Executive', to add to the tribute we paid in 'Winnipeg's Navy':

Liston Burns McIlhagga was born November 21, 1918. At an early age he displayed his dramatic talent and his prodigious memory. An early poster headlines him performing in various halls in Winnipeg as an elocutionist (reciting difficult passages from English literature) at four and a half years old. At the age of six he toured western Canada and the United States in the same role. He continued to perform with various dramatic groups around Winnipeg and in 1928 performed in his first live broadcast on CNRW in Winnipeg. Between 1935 and 1940 he worked as a freelance actor for CRBC and CBC attracting enough attention that Hollywood showed interest in him. Then came the war.

After the was (1946) Liston joined the International Service as an announcer/producer and within a year was made the chief announcer. From 1948-1952 he was the U.S. Prairie regional representative for the CBC. From 1953-56 he was the Director for that region. In 1960 TV operations were added to his duties and in 1965 he moved to headquarters in Ottawa as National Director of Regional Programming. In 1971 he moved to Toronto as head of features and special events. In 1975 he became the supervisor for international relations and program exchanges where he served until his retirement in 1983.

Some of the highlights of his career include: Broadcasting the funeral of Sir Winston Churchill for the CBC; a year after his retirement he combined his naval knowledge and broadcasting skills when he co-hosted the CBC special on the arrival of the Tall Ships in Quebec City harbour; accompanying royal visits in Canada in the 1950s and 60s for the CBC. He was responsible for the hiring of many of the broadcasting personalities in Canada over the last thirty years, the most famous being Lloyd Robertson.

In his role in the Naval Reserve he and others successfully campaigned across Canada to allow the navy to keep its own flag when the armed forces were amalgamated.

Within the family and friends, memories that stand out include his kindness, listening skills, incredible feats of memory, vast knowledge of the English language, storytelling and legendary meals (the best cook I ever met). We miss him.

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