January 24, 2002

Trent University mourns loss of Peter Gzowski -

Chancellor, Gentleman and Great Canadian

Peter Gzowski

Peter Gzowski, C.C.,LL.D.,D.LITT.

Trent University students, faculty, staff, alumni and Board members have joined together to express their deep sadness at the news of the death of their friend and Chancellor Peter Gzowski.

"For many of us, Peter Gzowski embodied what it means to be a Canadian," says Trent President Bonnie Patterson. "True to his journalistic roots, he was a story-teller, a listener, a man who helped us understand how our history, culture, politics and landscape made us distinctly Canadian."

Patterson emphasized that Gzowski's greatest attribute was his ability to connect one-on-one with individuals. "Just as Peter made listeners of his radio programs feel that he was speaking directly to them, he also made strong individual connections with people at Trent. Whether he was speaking to a student, a member of faculty or staff, Peter made you feel that you were the sole focus of his attention."

President Patterson indicated that she has conveyed the university's sympathies directly to Gillian Howard, Gzowski's partner. "Foremost in our mind are Gillian, and Peter's five children from his previous marriage, Alison, Maria, Peter, John and Mick," said Patterson.

Lowered flagA broadcaster, author and journalist Peter Gzowski became the eighth Chancellor of Trent University in July, 1999.

The CBC radio host of Morningside 1982-97 received an honorary degree from Trent in 1987 for outstanding public service and broadcasting. In 1992 he donated his papers to the Trent University Archives because of his "feeling of affinity for what Trent has come to stand for." He hosted the Timothy Findley tribute banquet held at Trent in 1997.

The feelings that many Canadians have towards Gzowski were best reflected in the citation read by Trent Professor S.T. Robson at the convocation ceremony conferring his honourary degree from Trent University:

There seems to be no corner of the country outside the reach of his curiosity, and no compatriot who would not want to be among his friends. In his writing and his interviews, one encounters the spirit that our small community of scholars here at Trent is trying to achieve, and it is warming to think that he has known so many people who have been close to our heart, including Ronald Thom, Margaret Laurence and W.O. Mitchell. More widely, he brings our community of communities together. Just as he radiates a light that warms as it illuminates, so he kindles it in his listeners, whose letters are the counterpoint to his ongoing exploration of who we are and what we do. Taken as a whole, his work will serve historians in years to come as it is serving us now, a mirror of the way we are and a pointer to the way we would like to be.

Commenting on the importance of Trent University, Gzowski wrote in 1989: "From its human scale through its lack of pretension about its own remarkable achievements, and right up to its achingly lovely physical setting, Trent University is as special in the academic community as Canada itself in the wider world. Perhaps more than ever in our history, we need such institutions now, not only to enrich our understanding of our past, but to act as beacons for our future."

Gzowski was raised in Galt (Cambridge) and educated at Ridley College in St. Catharines and the University of Toronto. He began his career at 19 at the Timmins Daily Press, returned to university where he became editor of The Varsity, later city editor of the Moose Jaw Times-Herald and managing editor of the Chatham Daily News in southwestern Ontario. As a 28-year-old, he joined the staff of Maclean's magazine, becoming its youngest managing editor.

Winner of seven ACTRA awards, Gzowksi began his radio career in 1969 and in 1971 became host of This Country in the Morning, the program that preceded Morningside on the CBC network.

He published several books and wrote a monthly column called "Gzowski's Canada" in Canadian Living magazine. A 1995 recipient of the Governor General's Performing Arts Award for Lifetime Achievement in Broadcasting, he was invested in 1999 as a Companion of the Order of Canada.

In November, 2001 Trent announced that Gzowski had been reappointed to another three year term as Chancellor of Trent University, for the period July 2002 to June 2005. Commenting on the renewal of term, Gzowski stated, "Trent was more important to me when I had the honour of first taking this job and its grown more important to me every year I am thrilled and honoured again to be a part of this special university."

In honour of Peter Gzowski, the flag atop Trent's Bata Library will remain at half mast for seven days. As a tribute, the flag will be presented to Gzowski's family as a sign of appreciation for his contributions to Canada and to the university.

Signing the book

Third-year psychology student Laura Mayo signs the book of condolence in the Bata Library.

Details about a memorial service at Trent University honouring the life of Peter Gzowski and a scholarship fund in his name will be announced. Members of the public and members of the university community may express condolences to Gzowski's family in a book available on the main floor of the Bata Library.

Click here for information regarding The Peter Gzowski Northern Scholarship.

See Peter Gzowski's short video about Trent University.


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Distribution: Peterborough, Regional


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