Trent University was saddened to learn of the passing of Alistair MacLeod on April 20, 2014. He is survived by his wife, Anita, six children and eight grandchildren. Visitations are being held at the Families First Funeral Home & Chapel in Windsor, ON, on Monday and Tuesday. Dr. MacLeod’s funeral will be on Saturday, April 26 at St. Margaret of Scotland Church in Broad Cove, Cape Breton.
One of Canada’s great short story writers, Dr. MacLeod visited Trent several times – first as writer-in-residence at Lady Eaton College in the 1980s, and again for a month-long stay in 2002-2003 as the Ashley Fellow. His readings and talks were major events, filling both the Peterborough Public Library and Trent’s Wenjack Theatre on separate occasions. Dr. MacLeod received an honorary Doctor of Letters degree at Trent in May 2004. His son Dr. Lewis MacLeod joined Trent’s Department of English as a faculty member in 2006.
Dr. MacLeod was born in North Battleford, Saskatchewan, and raised among an extended family in Cape Breton, Nova Scotia. He holds degrees from Nova Scotia Teachers College, St. Francis Xavier University, the University of New Brunswick and Notre Dame, where he took his Ph.D. Working alongside fellow author, W.O. Mitchell, he was an inspiring teacher to generations of writers at the Banff Centre. In the spring of 2000, MacLeod retired from the University of Windsor, where he was a professor of English. He published two internationally acclaimed collections of short stories: The Lost Salt Gift of Blood (1976) and As Birds Bring Forth the Sun (1986). In 2000, these two books, accompanied by two new stories, were published in a single-volume edition entitled Island: The Collected Stories of Alistair MacLeod. In 1999, MacLeod’s first novel, No Great Mischief, was published to great critical acclaim, and was on national bestseller lists for more than a year. The novel won several awards, including the International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award, the Dartmouth Book Award for Fiction, and the Thomas Raddall Atlantic Fiction Award. At the Canadian Booksellers Association Libris Awards, Mr. MacLeod won for Fiction Book of the Year and Author of the Year. No Great Mischief was also a finalist for the Pearson Canada Reader’s Choice Award at The Word on the Street. In 2008, MacLeod was appointed an Officer of the Order of Canada for his commitment to Canadian literature and influence on Canadian authors.
The University extends its deepest sympathies to Dr. MacLeod’s family and friends, and to his former colleagues at the University of Windsor. In honour of Dr. MacLeod’s honorary Trent degree, the University has lowered the flag atop the Bata Library to the half-mast position.