The publisher and founding editor of the Georgia Straight is among nine new inductees into the B.C. Entertainment Hall of Fame.
Dan McLeod is joined in the StarWalk category by renowned tenor Ben Heppner, Grammy and Juno winner Pranam (Chin) Injeti, musicians David Sinclair and Todd Kerns, and opera director Nancy Hermiston.
They will be recognized with a star on the Walk of Fame on Granville Street. In addition, their contributions to the province’s entertainment scene will be commemorated in the Starwall Gallery in the upper lobby of the Orpheum Theatre.
Three others—musician Lloyd Arntzen, choreographer Susan Lehmann, and actor-vaudevillian Doug Cameron have been inducted as Pioneers. They will be recognized on the Honour Plaque in the main lobby of the Orpheum.
“The BCEHoF is proud and excited to present a very diverse and impressive group of Pioneer and StarWalk inductees who represent artistic excellence in British Columbia,” BCEHoF president Rob Haynes said in a news release. “We look forward to scheduling and celebrating their individual inductions at various high profile events over the coming months to honour their contribution.”
The B.C. Entertainment Hall of Fame was created in 1992 and includes more than 300 inductees. They include performers such as Leon Bibb, Michael Bublé, Joy Coghill, Lovie Eli, Michael J. Fox, Bruno Gerussi, Sarah McLachlan, and Denis Simpson.
McLeod cofounded the Georgia Straight in 1967. The name was created in the bar of the old Cecil Hotel with two well-known artists: Michael Morris and Glenn Lewis.
In last year’s book, Georgia Straight: A 50th Anniversary Celebration, McLeod revealed that he saw the name as “a great marketing tool because every local radio, television, and daily newspaper weather forecast in those days talked at length” about the weather over the body of water separating Vancouver Island from the south coast of B.C.
“So the name of our newspaper was guaranteed to be mentioned—free of charge—several times a day,” McLeod wrote.
He and his friends had a clear vision: to oppose the Vietnam War, generate awareness about environmental issues, provide a platform for artists, and nurture an artistic community in Vancouver.
McLeod has noted on numerous occasions that artists of the era were operating in silos. Up-and-coming young artists, in particular, were almost never featured in the media. The old Leisure magazine, published by the Vancouver Sun, was really the only local entertainment source before the Straight started rolling off the presses.
McLeod was also concerned by how widely the community was dispersed. Musician and poet Al Neil was down on the Dollarton mudflats, others were hanging around in Gastown or on West 4th Avenue.
As publisher and editor of the Straight, McLeod wanted to create a paper that helped these artists and many others talk to one another, learn from one another, and feel that they were part of a genuine community.
Visual arts were also highlighted in the early days through the work of such renowned illustrators as Rand Holmes, Bob Masse, and David Boswell.
One of Vancouver’s greatest visual artists, Ian Wallace, used to write reviews for the paper. Another outstanding visual artist, Dana Claxton, used to sell advertising. Other visual artists who worked at the Straight over the years included Academy Award nominee Brent Boates.
But the most famous alumnus is Sir Bob Geldof. The frontman for the Boomtown Rats learned how the music industry worked while travelling with McLeod to San Francisco and Los Angeles when he was an editor of the Straight in the mid 1970s.
In his autobiography, Geldof reminisced about the time he was hired by McLeod to work in the Straight’s bookstore before moving into the editorial department and covering local bands.
“I loved the paper,” Geldof wrote. “It was the first work I liked: I would stay late and be in early.”
The Straight’s focus on nurturing young artists was reflected in its early and repeated coverage of such entertainment giants as k.d. lang, Bryan Adams, Crystal Pite, Veda Hille, and many others. McLeod also ensured that the film industry received its due by featuring Vancouver directors like Mina Shum, Julia Kwan, Kevan Funk, and others.
To celebrate its 50th anniversary last year, the Straight invited several local bands to perform for their fans in the lobby of its building. Among those who played were Mother Mother and Dan Mangan.