Jack MacAndrew loses his battle with cancer

Jim Day
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Jack MacAndrew prepares to deliver a lecture at Confederation Centre of the Arts in January 2014. 

Celebrated journalist remembered for diverse, impactful career

Jack MacAndrew, a journalistic gem who could command attention with both written and spoken word, has lost his battle with cancer.

He died peacefully Friday morning at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital with his eldest son Shaun by his side. MacAndrew was 81.

Barbara MacAndrew says people have been calling from around the world to offer condolences for the loss of her husband of 57 years. The callers have also been voicing their own sadness at learning of the passing of a man who made his mark in broadcasting and print journalism, as well as in theatre and television.

Tributes have been coming into The Guardian as well with politicians singing MacAndrew’s praises.

“Mr. MacAndrew’s wide and varied career, his many accomplishments in television and theatre, his unique vision and insight, and his great creative talent were valued and respected by Islanders and Canadians from coast to coast,’’ P.E.I. Opposition Leader Steven Myers said in a statement.

Eastern Graphic publisher Paul MacNeill says the breadth of MacAndrew’s career “is really staggering.’’

MacAndrew walked what he once admitted to be a fine line between that of the owner of a public relations firm trying to influence what the news media think and how they play stories with that of a serious journalist.

As the later, he certainly had his moments in the spotlight, perhaps never more so than with his coverage of the Springhill mining disasters in the 1950s when he broadcasted to people around the world.

MacNeill says MacAndrew never lost the “burning in his belly’’ for writing, tallying 27 years with his well-read Eastern Graphic column called The View from Here and writing for other Canadian newspapers and magazines that earned him regional journalism awards.

“Journalistically, the man could write...he could take a few words and craft them in such an order that they commanded your attention,’’ says MacNeill. “I just think people are realizing that as an Island we have lost an incredibly unique voice in a time when unique voices are becoming fewer and fewer.’’

Guardian managing editor Gary MacDougall describes MacAndrew’s death as a loss to journalism on Prince Edward Island.

“For many years, on various media platforms, Jack told it like he saw it when it came to public affairs,’’ says MacDougall. “He was a man of strong opinions, and a good man to have in your corner when it came to advocating what was proper and right for his beloved Prince Edward Island.”

MacAndrew was an immediately recognizable figure, proudly sporting a full, thick beard and often donning a trademark cardigan sweater. He had once described himself as looking like either “an unmade bed or a scruffulous black bear.’’

He was crusty. He was charming.

He was consistent. He was a contradiction.

“He was soft as a teddy bear and as tough as a 10-inch wall,’’ says MacNeill. “If you got involved with a verbal scrap with Jack, you better come armed. He was known as a tough guy who stuck to his opinions.’’

He was also a man who played Santa Claus and doted over his wife Barbara and the couple’s sons, Shaun and Randy.

MacAndrew was born in Campbellton, N.B. on Feb. 15, 1933 and moved to P.E.I. when he was eight years old, growing up in a province he considered his “heart’s true home.’’

In 1954, he joined the Canadian Air Force and became a radio officer on Lancaster planes. He left the Air Force just two years later and was soon hired as a public relations/marketing officer at CBC Radio and TV Maritimes.

He went on to a distinguished career in broadcast journalism. He also wrote, produced and hosted several Canadian television shows, including the This Is Jazz series out of Halifax.

MacAndrew left CBC in 1965, moving back to P.E.I. as public relations/marketing director and later as producer of Charlottetown Festival’s original Canadian musicals Anne of Green Gables and Johnny Belinda among others.

He made a failed run as a Liberal candidate in the 1968 federal election, but would go on to work with Alex Campbell and Joe Ghiz in their Liberal victories in Prince Edward Island.

MacNeill notes that government transparency was a topic MacAndrew would tear into with great gusto. Environmental issues also came under the watchful eye aof the scrutining scribe.

In 1980, MacAndrew established his company Jack MacAndrew Productions, based in Toronto and in Los Angeles.

Returning with his family to P.E.I. five years later, he spent the next 20 years creating provincial, national and a few international productions under his companies Jack MacAndrew Productions, Video Atlantic, Media Concepts, and East Coast Productions.

The funeral for MacAndrew will be held on Wednesday, May 28, at St. Peter's Cathedral in Charlottetown at 11 a.m. His remains are resting at the Hennessey Cutcliffe Charlottetown Funeral Home. Visiting hours are planned Tuesday, May 27, from 7-9 p.m.







Organizations: Springhill Mine, CBC

Geographic location: Prince Edward Island, Campbellton, Charlottetown Green Gables Toronto Los Angeles

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Recent comments

  • Sandy
    May 25, 2014 - 13:25

    It never failed to amaze me when visiting the Island how the spraying of the crops seemed to be everywhere. Does anyone actually believe there is no link to Cancer?

  • j blair arsenault
    May 25, 2014 - 08:38

    I never met Mr. McAndrew personally, but always knew where he stood on issues that mattered to a civil society, such as the environment, the power and vitality of the arts, human rights, and the job of government to be at least decent. We have lost a great man. My deepest sympathies to Barbara, Shaun and Randy, and all who loved him.

  • w kennedy
    May 25, 2014 - 04:22

    The island cancer epidemic claims another great man.

  • Edith Jordan
    May 24, 2014 - 07:41

    Sorry to hear of Jack's Passing. I first met Jack at the Springhill Mine Disaster in 1958 I was only 16 years old and my boyfriend and I went over to it. A very sad time in everyone's Lives then and since that I would meet Jack and his Wife Barb in the Supermarket he always had a big Hello. He will be Missed. RIP Jack:

  • Edith Jordan
    May 24, 2014 - 07:40

    Sorry to hear of Jack's Passing. I first met Jack at the Springhill Mine Disaster in 1958 I was only 16 years old and my boyfriend and I went over to it. A very sad time in everyone's Lives then and since that I would meet Jack and his Wife Barb in the Supermarket he always had a big Hello. He will be Missed. RIP Jack:

  • paul Haddad
    May 23, 2014 - 20:58

    Our Sincere Condolences from The Haddad Family to The MacAndrew Family ..Jack has always been a strong voice and an important figure to all of PEI ..We are honored to have met and known him . GOD bless his soul. .

  • Kathie Stevenson
    May 23, 2014 - 19:17

    RIP my dear friend Jack I knew you for a decade but it was like I knew you forever. You always had a smile , a joke and a big hug for me when we would see each other. You will continue to watch over Barb, Shaun, Randy their families ,as well as the many people you have touched and welcomed into your lives. I write this with love in my heart and tears in my eyes fair well my friend till we meet again.....".big hug" Kathie

  • Olive Bryanton
    May 23, 2014 - 16:53

    My sincere condolences to Barbara and family - Jack presented a giant presence and was a wonderful journalist and man. May he rest in peace.

  • LCCM
    May 23, 2014 - 16:43

    Had the pleasure of growing up a friend & neighbor with the MacAndrew clan & Randy in particular.I ALWAYS felt welcome at their Island Sandstone home on West Street where you might find The Bells or Gene MacLellan or any number of Canadian musical elite dropping by for a visit. Randy & I started our first band together with instruments from who else , Big Jack. The MacAndrew's friendly open door policy wasn't lost on this young kid from "The Bog" & tonight my thoughts & prayers are with Barb, Shaun & Randy.

  • Mary MacKay
    May 23, 2014 - 15:55

    I can honestly say I have never had a single encounter with Jack MacAndrew where he has not enlightened me in some way intellectually or made me laugh out loud at some of the crazy fun things we would talk about. My thoughts are with his loved ones now. I am very sorry for your immense loss.

  • Platinus
    May 23, 2014 - 15:36

    Rest in peace dear Jack. I have always had the greatest respect for you and your views because they defined you as a man. Working with you was always a joy because you expected the best one could give.I still admire your sense of the rightness of things. All the best to Barb and boys.

  • Troy Perrot-Sanderson
    May 23, 2014 - 14:07

    RIP Jack! You have earned your eternal rest. Many of you may not know this, but I first met Jack when we were both on the Board of Directors for AIDS PEI. Jack served as Chair of the Board and was instrumental in steering the Board in a very professional manner through a difficult staff change in those days.. mid 90's. I have had the utmost respect for Jack ever since. My condolences to Barbara, Shaun and Randy and their families. Thanks for all your hard work and dedication, Jack.. You will never be forgotten. Troy Perrot-Sanderson

  • Pat McGowan
    May 23, 2014 - 13:00

    My condolences to Jack's family.He was an intelligent,thoughtful man who will be greatly missed for his observant comments for all things unjust.His death was too soon. RIP

    • Troy Perrot-Sanderson
      May 23, 2014 - 14:08

      Well said, Pat!