Posts Tagged ‘Senior Times’

MCKENTY: A MAN OF ALL SEASONS

January 25, 2017

 

 

As long as he could remember, Neil McKenty was interested in writing. A teacher in grade school gave him a key piece of advice: “Find something to write about.” And he did.

At 9, he won his first oratorical contest, no doubt helped by his mother, Irene, a talented teacher.

His father, Arthur, owned a hardware store in the small town of Hastings, Ontario.

At 15, Neil signed on as a stringer for the Peterborough Examiner whose editor was Robertson Davies. He covered village council meetings, sports events, accidents, runaway horses, lawn bowling and Sunday afternoon teas. He was paid 10 cents a column inch.

He and his cousin bought an old Dodge car for $30, patched the leaky gas tank with bubble gum and put a big sign marked PRESS on the windshield. He learned about politics, prices and world affairs while sitting with the farmers on bales of twine around the glowing pot-bellied stove in front of nail kegs in his dad’s hardware store.

While studying with the Jesuits, he got one a master’s degree in history and another in communications from the University of Michigan.

In 1967, his biography of controversial Ontario premier Mitch Hepburn won the centennial prize for best biography.

I met Neil on a Toronto dance floor in 1971. At the time, he was finishing a three-year stint with the Foster Foundation, working with the Kennedys and Brian O’Neill of the National Hockey League to bring the Special Olympics to Canada.

He was looking for a new challenge. He found it.

Two weeks after our honeymoon, we moved lock, stock and barrel to Montreal.

Neil did his first editorial at CJAD hardly knowing where Peel and Ste. Catherine were.

With one part-time paycheck and no car, we explored this fascinating city by bus in all kinds of weather.

One bitter January day, we were waiting on a street corner near the Botanical Garden.

We decided then and there you had to join the Montreal winter or freeze to death, so we bought skis for $49 a pair at Eaton’s and slithered around Angrignon Park.

A member of the Laurentian Lodge Ski Club took pity on us and the result was some memorable friendships, including Jackrabbit Johannsen, and a book, Skiing Legends and the Laurentian Lodge Club, which Neil turned into a best-seller.

By Catharine McKenty

For the Senior Times 2012

 

 

 

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TUESDAY WRITING CONVERSATION

December 1, 2015

Neil use to have a column in The Senior Times.  It was named, ”Pitstop”.

He was asked by Barbara Moser, The Senior Times publisher, to look over the history of ”Pitstop” for the 20th anniversary issue.

So he went back in time through his old columns, here’s what he dug up!

McKenty: he’s edgy, he’s provocative & he’s ours!

To my astonishment I discovered I have been writing “Pit Stop” for more than eight years. Time goes fast when you’re having fun.
My very first column, in May, 1998, paid a tribute to Quebec’s teachers, one of my favourite groups of people, generally over-worked and under-paid. In my book, teachers come in right behind nurses who, sadly, are drifting more and more to the private sector.
One of my first columns stated the private sector should pay to keep the Expos in Montreal. No one from the private sector stepped up to the plate and the team is long gone. More astonishing than their leaving is the fact nobody seems to miss them.
Early in 2000 I wrote that separatists didn’t want a clear question on separation. They still don’t. But that was before Jean Chrétien nailed down the Clarity Act. If the PQ win the next election (by no means certain) and if they call a referendum early in their first term (more likely), their chances of winning on an unambiguous question about separation are nil.
My column following Al Gore’s defeat in a legally-rigged election was entitled “Beating around the bush with George Jr.” My first impression of the current Bush was that he is an airhead and a playboy. Nothing he’s done in the past six years has caused me to change my mind. Certainly, I believe Bush is the worst president in my lifetime, which goes back to Herbert Hoover.
In February 2003, I wrote that the impending war in Iraq threatens our world order. Now, six years later, 16 American intelligence agencies have unanimously concluded that Bush’s reckless adventure in Iraq has multiplied terrorists and made our world less safe. It seems to me now that what has happened in Iraq is also happening in Afghanistan. I believe we urgently need a serious debate about what precisely is our mission in that country.
I also wrote several columns on religion, especially the implications for my own tradition, Roman Catholic. I suggested that sexually-arrested priests should be arrested. And I reviewed a remarkable book showing how much anti-Semitism is linked to Christianity and how the Vatican is complicit in the spread of HIV/AIDS.
I also covered a number of moral and ethical issues: homosexuality, health care, euthanasia, creationism and the role of religion in public policy.
Of course I didn’t bring out the heavy artillery for every column. There were lighter musings on golf, books and films like Brokeback Mountain and The Da Vinci Code.
What I have tried to convey here is not only the content of the columns, but the fun I had doing them. The deadline was more like a lifeline.
I am proud to have been associated with Barbara Moser and her strong and enthusiastic team for the last eight years. I have also enjoyed meeting readers and getting your feedback.
By the way, I have just set up my own blog, “Neil McKenty Weblog,” at neilmckenty.wordpress.com. Check it out and leave a suggestion or a comment.
Meantime, on this special anniversary of The Senior Times, I’ll drink one toast to the last 20 years and another to the next 20.

The Senior Times  October 2006

tst 20th

Jean P.

McKenty: he’s edgy, he’s provocative & he’s ours!

October 17, 2014

Pit Stop - Oct

Details of the forthcoming book –  McKenty Live: The Lines Are Still Blazing – will be released soon. In the meantime, to whet the appetite:

The Senior Times’ publisher Barbara Moser suggested I might look over the history of “Pit Stop” for this 20th anniversary issue, so I dug up my old columns and checked them out. To my astonishment I discovered I have been writing “Pit Stop” for more than eight years. Time goes fast when you’re having fun.
My very first column, in May, 1998, paid a tribute to Quebec’s teachers, one of my favourite groups of people, generally over-worked and under-paid. In my book, teachers come in right behind nurses who,
sadly, are drifting more and more to the private sector. One of my first columns stated the private sector should pay to keep the Expos in Montreal. No one from the private sector stepped up to the plate and the team is long gone. More astonishing than their leaving is the fact nobody seems to miss them. Early in 2000 I wrote that separatists didn’t want a clear question on separation. They still don’t. But that was before Jean Chretien nailed down the Clarity Act.

If the PQ win the next election (by no means certain) and if they call a referendum early in their first term (more likely), their chances of winning on an unambiguous question about separation are nil.
My column following Al Gore’s defeat in a rigged election was entitled “Beating around the bush with George Jr.” My first impression of the current Bush was that he is an airhead and a playboy. Nothing he’s done in the past six years has caused me to change my mind. Certainly, I believe Bush is the worst president in my lifetime, which goes back to Herbert Hoover.
In February 2003, I wrote that the impending war in Iraq threatens our world order. Now, six years later, 16 American intelligence agencies have unanimously concluded that Bush’s reckless adventure in Iraq has multiplied terrorists and made our world less safe. It seems to me now that what has happened in Iraq is also happening in Afghanistan. I believe we urgently need a serious debate about what precisely is our mission in that country.
I also wrote several columns on religion, especially the implications for my own tradition, Roman Catholicism. I also covered a number of moral and ethical issues: homosexuality, health care, euthanasia, creationism and the role of religion in public policy.
Of course I didn’t bring out the heavy artillery for every column. There were lighter musings on golf, books and films like Brokeback Mountain and The Da Vinci Code.
What I have tried to convey here is not only the content of the columns, but the fun I had doing them. The deadline was more like a lifeline.

I am proud to have been associated with Barbara Moser and her strong and enthusiastic team for the last eight years. I have also enjoyed meeting readers and getting your feedback.
By the way, I have just set up my own blog, “Neil McKenty Weblog,” at neilmckenty.com. Check it out and leave a suggestion or a comment.
Meantime, on this special anniversary of The Senior Times, I’ll drink one toast to the last 20 years and another to the next 20.

October 2006

To read more of Neil’s articles for Senior Times visit their print articles online here.