Special Feature: Peter Mansbridge

Special Feature: Peter Mansbridge

One of Canada’s most celebrated journalists and television personalities, Peter Mansbridge brings his coast-to-coast tour to St. John’s on October 21st 

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There are a few names that round out a shortlist of recognizable Canadians. Peter Mansbridge is among that conversation, a name synonymous with integrity, dedication and proud nationalism. For nearly 50 years Mansbridge, without the benefit of auspicious beginnings, cultivated a career in journalism that goes largely unrivaled within the Great White North. His resume reads like a bucketlist for noble prize winners and valedictorians, and his notable interactions, stories and interviews over the years boast a who’s who of the late 20th and early 21st centuries.

After retiring from the anchor desk of CBC’s The National, a position he held for 30 years, Mansbridge is trekking across Canada with his Peter Mansbridge: Live Coast to Coast Tour, which just so happens to kick off here in St. John’s on October 21st.

A Memorable Moment

“The thing about Newfoundland, wherever you go, it’s a memorable moment,” Mansbridge shared with The Herald. “Obviously I have a lot of friends in and from Newfoundland, starting with Rex (Murphy), Mark Critch, Allan Hawco, Alan Doyle; I’ve been lucky to get to know these guys over the years. Newfoundland, I feel it is a little in my blood. I follow those guys on Instagram and Twitter and they all take such fantastic pictures of the province. It’s like a postcard.”

Mansbridge estimates that his Newfoundland debut came in 1978 during the Royal St. John’s Regatta, a trip he has taken countless times since. With his intimate and interactive coast-to-coast tour, Mansbridge aims to open up to audiences and share insights and behind the scenes stories that stick out amidst a career spanning five decades. 

Peel Back The Curtain

“What I decided to look for was to try to come up with stories that clearly never got told on the air, for a variety of reasons,” he says. “You know what it’s like in our business, we see lots of things and not all of it gets on the air, because it probably shouldn’t be on the air. Other times things just get squeezed out and yet there was something special about that moment. It might have been funny, emotional, but odds are it told you something about the people involved, the city involved or the country involved. I look for stories that told me something about Canada and Canadians, that also have that mix of at times humour or at times serious emotion … What the object of this tour is is to peel back the curtain about what really happens in television news, what it’s like in a newsroom, in a shoot, what it’s like out on location. That’s what I was looking for.”

After cultivating a devout following across Canada and beyond, Mansbridge’s popularity can largely be attributed to a relatable common-man feel, one that permeated across the telephone lines throughout our conversation.

“I am, and most of us are, just ordinary guys and gals,” he says candidly. “My roots are fairly well known. I didn’t finish high school, ended up loading baggage at an airport in Churchill, Manitoba when I was 19 years old and somebody heard my voice and offered me a job in a local radio station. That’s where it all started for me, in September of 1968, 49 years ago. I never forget that fact, never forget what my roots are. I never try to pretend to be much more than that kid who was loading bags. I’ve been awful lucky. I’ve learned a lot over time, had the opportunity to go through rigors, travel the world and have interviewed big name people, but it’s still the same guy. I try not to lose sight of that. I’m no different than you. We’re both journalists. At the end of the day that’s what we do, ask questions, try to challenge certain assumptions and bring what we’ve learned to other people who are also interested. That’s what we do.”

Anything Is Possible

Never passing up an opportunity to dole out some sagely advice when called upon, Mansbridge shared that any rising star in journalism should practice patience and endeavour to grab hold of any opportunities that pass by, and above all else, be curious and ask the right questions.

“What I say is don’t let any opportunity pass you by. The object of the game now for anyone who wants to get into this business is get your foot in the door and don’t take it out. For young people who are just launching their careers, appreciate that you’re probably going to start small, and that’s ok. You can have great ambitions for whatever job you want. Anything is possible, I’m proof of that. You may have to start at something you think is small. Nothing really is small, they’re all the same kind of jobs. A journalist is pretty much the same no matter what level you’re at, or what city you work in or what format you use. You’re asking questions, bringing knowledge to others. We’re living in the most extreme example of the information age in the history of the planet, so there should be lots of jobs out there for people and lots of information to gather.”

Tickets for Peter Mansbridge Live at Mile One Centre are available at the box office by phone or online.

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