Neil McKenty 1924 – 2012

On May 12, after a short illness, Neil left on his final journey, surrounded by close friends and family, and comforted by the wonderful caregivers of the Montreal General Hospital. Dearly beloved husband of Catharine; caring uncle to the McKenty and Fleming families; honorary uncle to the John and Clare Hallward family; and Stéphanie Pagano. Neil will be sorely missed for his insight, intellect and enthusiasm for alternative opinion and sparring partners. Respected author of five books, host of Exchange, CJAD’s daily talk show, and McKenty Live on CFCF, Neil zeroed in on the people and issues that mattered to him. He will always be remembered for his outstanding ability to connect with people, to listen, and to go straight to the heart of the matter.

The wake, including Irish music, will be held at the Côte-des-Neiges Funeral Home, 4525 Chemin Cote-des-Neiges, 514 342-8000 on Friday, May 18, from 5:30 to 9 p.m. The service will be on Saturday, May 19, at 3:30 p.m. with a reception following.

In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to Desta, Benedict Labre House, or Nazareth House. Your comments are welcome here and also at


  1. 1

    Well, I guess that means my bet with Neil over the outcome of the November, 2012 presidential election is off.

    Neil and I hardly agreed on anything. Yet we both respected and acted with civility towards each other. Actually, he was much more civil and patient towards me than I was to him; he earned my respect by not taking the bait, so to speak, every opportunity I found to “push his buttons” on a particular issue. As a result, he taught me that it was more effective to make my point with honey rather than with vinegar. So I attempted to always maintain a proper tone in my correspondence with him on this forum. I mostly succeeded but not always; Neil, however, always did. I can’t remember him ever crossing the line with me and I can assure you I gave him more than one tit-for-tat opportunity.

    I don’t know why I was drawn to this forum on such a regular basis. Perhaps it was the open-ended question format that Neil employed. Or the short, suscinct way he had of expressing and introducing the topic of the day that got all of us regulars chiming in. I had originally found the site as a result of a google search on “Bill 101”, found an entry here on the topic, registered my opinion (you all know I have lots of those!), got hooked, and never left.

    On both his radio and TV shows — stretching back more than 25 years — I had always been an active caller and chronicler of events. Indeed, one time Neil was interviewing William Johnson on his CFCF TV show. It was soon after the passage of Bill 178 in December 1988 and, as I always did on topics of language and the constitution, I taped the show. Johnson made a point I found so salient that I used it as the opening quote of the book I wrote on Quebec and Canada. When I first started participating on this blog I reminded Neil of it (he didn’t remember the quote although he certainly remembered having Johnson on as a guest, someone who had been a student at a seminary with him at one point in the past).

    I still believe I will win our bet. Originally, it was for $100.00 if Michele Bachmann was the Republican candidate and I would win if she beat Obama; once she dropped out, the bet was amended to whether Obama wins: me saying “no” and you, of course, “yes”…and the winner would buy the other dinner the next time I was in Montreal. I still want to win but if I do, the victory will be bittersweet without having you around to tell us what you think of it all…and, probably more importantly, without having you around to get us to think of what we thought about it.

    We’ll miss you, Neil, and that special, unique way you had of presenting, discussing the issues of the day, and getting the rest of us to care. Godspeed on whatever journey (the root word of “journalism”?) you’ve decided to take.

  2. 2
    Cate McB Says:

    Godspeed Indeed!! May the universe receive you Neil with open arms & the greatest love!!!

    I remember soooo many wonderful conversations and good food with the Exchange community at Neil & Catherine’s home, or with Neil & Catherine at a little restaurant nearby, or at their home. I always came away enriched, enlightened, energized, and inspired.

    One particular day sticks in my mind. I was having a terrible time for lots of different reasons, and quite unexpectedly as I stepped out of my apt. on Cote Ste. Luc. Rd. and prepared to cross the street, Neil was driving by on his return from the golf course and he stopped the car, rolled down the window, and said ‘Hello’. I burst into tears. To make a long story short, during the next hour or so, I was given the gift of Neil’s significant listening ear and incredible perspectives on my situation that I would never have had otherwise. My day had certainly changed …

    In thanksgiving and great sadness I will close for now…

  3. 3
    youngshoutman Says:

    Rest in peace Neil,it was a pleasure meeting you, as was discussing issues with you.
    Love Lawrence

  4. To All the McKenty family.My sincere sympathy for the loss a wonderful gentleman.I listened to haim on CJAD and became very fond of him.We became better acquainted at St.Anthony’s Parish.I will miss his kind words and loving hugs.R.I.P. Mr. McKenty.Mrs. McKenty please take care of yourself. Hope to see you back at St. Anthony’s Church.God Bless You.
    Anna Maria Notaro
    St. Anthony’s Parish

  5. 5
    imagenmots Says:

    Condolences to the the family.
    Adieu, Neil, et au revoir là-bas.

  6. 6
    Andrew Caddell Says:

    Neil was a wonderful colleague when I worked at CJAD in 1979-80, and he had a very dry wit. One day, he asked his listeners for recommendations on summer reading. I told him afterwards in the newsroom that I was very tempted to call up using a false name to say I was reading a fascinating biography on the former Ontario premier Mitch Hepburn. Of course, Neil laughed, as it was his book! He was perhaps the last open line host who actually listened patiently to what his listeners had to say, and his contribution to the city will be missed.

  7. 7
    Steve Sims Says:

    I was telling Catharine about an event 16 years ago, when I was living on Vendome: a fairly large number of young people had gathered, and Neil (then 70+) arrived, and jumped into the “exchange” … sitting cross-legged on the floor, and animated in conversation mode.
    I saw Neil about three weeks before he died, and his last words, when I was leaving, were: “I am not doing enough for others.” Despite his diminishing energy, his desire to serve others ran strong to the end.

  8. 8
    Don McGowan Says:

    One day at our CFCF 12 studios on Ogilvy Avenue Neil announced he was planning on purchasing a car. I suggested he warn the motoring public first. Typically, Neil did extensive research and decided to buy a pre-owned Mercedes because it is a “safe” automobile. I told Neil Mr. Bronfman drives a Mercedes and perhaps he should look at a Chevy or a VW. Unlike me, Neil was in constant touch with a higher being. He bought the Mercedes. We enjoyed having Neil as part of the CFCF 12 family, his booming yet friendly voice bellowing through the hallways. Neil McKenty was a true original…..sadly missed.

  9. 9
    Barbara DeLorenzi Says:

    Blessings on your journey back to the Father, Neil. May your quest for justice and peace find its end where it began. I fully expect you will have arranged for a marvelous speakers list when the Exchange group reassembles in the mansion the Lord prepared for you. Your wit and your incisive analysis will be missed in the meantime.

    And peace to you, Catharine. My condolences to you on your deep loss.

  10. 10

    Neil McKenty was the definition of “Talk Radio” to me. What a profound difference he made by introducing a forum to discuss points of view in a civil, engaging manner! I discovered him during the CJAD days, when I was in sales (in the car) & soaking up every word. Sometimes, I parked just to listen closely. No car phones back then but plenty of opinions. He evoked a mixture.
    Then I rediscovered him on his blog & couldn’t believe my good luck.
    What a gentleman, a diplomat and a scholar.
    He was a gift.

  11. Neil, such a lovely service it was this afternoon. To see how much were loved gave evidence of the love you gave others.

    It was nice to hear your voice once again …thank you for that final gift, it was as if were sitting in Vermont once again amongst your many friends…


  12. 12
    Cate McB Says:

    I agree with Mike — it was a very special send-off and everything that was part of it was so fitting, and done with such evident thoughtfulness & love!!

    And yes, to let Neil have the final word in his own words about aging & dying was quite moving!!

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