CAM ‘N EGGS: Peter Mansbridge
A COLUMN I WROTE ON PETER'S FINAL CBC' NEWSCAST
Words didn’t just didn’t come.
The retirement of Peter Mansbridge from CBC is Saturday — most fitting, being on Canada Day — and has been common knowledge for months. I’m a fan, and planned to write something to honour and celebrate his five-decade tour of duty with the national broadcaster. Personally, Mansbridge’s voice is one of the last I hear at the end of my day before my wife’s.
Try as hard as I did, I knew what I wanted to say. Just didn’t know how to say it.
Typical day for me, the boss could honestly say, at the office.
And then, with the help of Ron MacLean, I was given a gentle nudge directed at exactly what I was planning.
In preparing CBC’s tribute to Mansbridge, notable Canadians like MacLean, the long-time Hockey Night in Canada host, share their thoughts.
On Tuesday night, we saw a brief snippet — 15 seconds, tops — of MacLean’s account. He talks of Oct. 22, 2015: a fall morning on Ottawa when 24-year-old Nathan Cirillo was killed in front of the War Memorial.
“Peter talked about what happened and how awful and horrible it was,” MacLean said. “But then it was as if he took us by the hand and told us everything was going to be OK.”
Mansbridge came into our living rooms in the evening anchoring The National. Although he was on television, it felt like he was sitting on the couch, nestled in his favourite cardigan sweater and slippers — not a tailor-made suit with his tie perfectly positioned on top of his freshly-starched white shirt.
A glass of scotch, perhaps, in one hand and a cigar in the other.
He’d walk us through the news of the day. Not injecting an editorial tone, Mansbridge gave us information on tens of thousands of stories.
We can’t recall the majority of them.
But there are a few which will never fade away, such as the killing of Cirillo
For me, the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001 is such a story. Mansbridge was interviewed by Anna Maria Tremonti on her CBC Radio One show, The Current, and talked about that horrific Tuesday morning.
He said he was on a 44-hour marathon that followed that morning of mayhem in Manhattan of providing updates. He took a short break, went to his dressing room and listened to a voice mail — a simple, yet poignant message — from one of his daughters.
She said ‘I love you’, and I thought ‘what’s the big deal?’” Mansbridge said. But then he realized the world’s population had been shaken and was now living in fear.
And, maybe, when he went back on the air, Mansbridge was afraid, too. Yet, he never let on.
His calm and reassuring voice of saying “Thanks for watching” is not only his signature sign-off after each broadcast — it’s an encouraging sign that, indeed, the sun will rise once again tomorrow.
Personally, I’m going to miss that.
But since his farewell is on Canada Day, Peter Mansbridge sheds hope and promise on our country’s next 150 years … and, that everything is going to be OK.