Georgia Straight film writer Ian Caddell leaves a legacy

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      One of B.C.’s most beloved journalists has died. Ian Caddell, a father of five and an anchor of the Georgia Straight film section since 1983, passed away at Vancouver General Hospital in the early hours of November 7 after a two-year fight with cancer. He was 63.

      Caddell had a sweet disposition, a gift for telling stories, and a prodigious work ethic, never missing a Straight deadline even when he was in the hospital. His partner, lawyer Anja Brown, told the Straight that Caddell was a man of incredible compassion and infinite patience. “I think what impressed me the most about him was his absolute kindness and his unconditional love—and his ability to express that to me on an almost daily basis,” she said. “We had made all kinds of plans for a long and happy future together, but that was not to be.”

      She added that he didn’t complain about his cancer even when it was obvious that he was struggling. “He had always been the provider for his boys and the one that was looking after everyone else,” Brown recalled. “It seemed to me that he wasn’t comfortable asking for help himself.”

      She said that Caddell was at peace in his final days and wasn’t afraid of death. “He felt ready,” she revealed. “He was tired of his broken body.”

      Over his career, Caddell interviewed thousands of actors, directors, and writers. Starting in 1989, he also edited the film-and-television trade publication Reel West Magazine and was, at different times, the full-time western Canadian correspondent for Variety and the Hollywood Reporter. This was in addition to numerous radio appearances on KISS FM and CKNW, and articles published in many publications, including the Toronto Star, the Globe and Mail, the Province, Vancouver magazine, BCBusiness, Canadian Screenwriter, and Western Living.

      Caddell cofounded the Vancouver Film Critics Circle. In January, his fellow critics surprised him by renaming a prize for promoting the local film industry as the Ian Caddell Award for Achievement.

      His son Adam Caddell told the Straight that his father had an “incredible mind” and he wanted his children to grow up to be “kind and interesting” people. “He worked extremely hard to support all of us,” Adam said. “That’s not easy to do in today’s world.”

      In addition to Adam, he’s survived by sons Emmett, Nathan, Tobin, and Owen. “If you’re reading this, give your parents a call and tell them that you love them,” Adam wrote on his Facebook page. “Spend more time with them if you can. Time goes by so fast that sometimes we forget how precious it truly is.”

      Georgia Straight publisher Dan McLeod pointed out that Caddell was admired for his encyclopedic knowledge about a wide range of topics. “His curiosity took him beyond mere facts into the little-known stories and human drama behind those facts,” McLeod said. “That thirst for knowledge didn’t stop with the many movie stars he interviewed, or all of the other personalities and stories that he followed.

      “You could see the same depth of curiosity and caring in his personal life,” McLeod added. “He loved and cared deeply not only for his own family, but for his hundreds of close friends and their families. For the Georgia Straight family, he was one of our greatest unsung heroes. There was nothing fake about Ian. Those who knew him are feeling a huge loss now.”

      Throughout Caddell’s ordeal with cancer, he was supported by his friend Stephanie Nicolls, who described him as a man without one iota of hubris. “He worked hard,” she stated. “He loved family. He was a loyal, devoted partner. Ian had many friends—from all circles and walks of life. And he was the type of guy who was considered by many people to be their best friend.”

      She recalled Caddell as a man who laughed often and caused others to do the same. She also called him “a wit, a scholar, a keen historian, always curious, and a brilliant political analyst with a seemingly photographic memory”.

      To Straight editor Charlie Smith, Caddell was the epitome of graciousness and decency. “We all know that Ian was a great raconteur,” Smith said. “People should also never forget that he was also a great human being and a very loving father. He often spoke with pride about his children’s accomplishments—much more often than he would ever speak of his own achievements.”

      Lawyer John Nicolls has set up a trust fund at the Bank of Montreal branch in Yaletown (1004 Hamilton Street, Vancouver, B.C. V6B 2R9) to help Caddell’s sons get through university. Cheques should be made payable to “John Nicolls, ITR” and can be dropped off at or mailed to the bank or sent to Nicolls’s attention at the law firm Richards Buell Sutton.

      There will be a celebration of Caddell’s life on November 24 at the Vancity Theatre.




      Nov 7, 2012 at 5:33pm

      RIP Ian. The film and television industry won't be the same without you. You will be missed.

      Martin Dunphy

      Nov 7, 2012 at 6:19pm

      In my experience as an editor, Ian was one of my favourite writers to work with. He not only always made deadline, he often brought his articles in ahead of time. He always assiduously observed word count and never complained if his prose had to be cut back for some reason. He never fished for compliments but was always genuinely pleased to receive them.

      Ian was unfailingly upbeat no matter the pressure, and his professionalism could not be faulted. No one was better organized or had a better sense of long-term obligations and duties.

      His devotion to his family was humbling, frankly, and on many occasions over the years when I brought up the issue of his driving himself so hard (essentially working at three or four jobs simultaneously), he good-naturedly changed the subject. He was very proud of his sons, and I am sure they are well aware of the many sacrifices he made for them.

      I always depended on Ian to be able to explain any issues involving the city, provincial, or even national and international film industries, and I could be assured that if I needed advice that navigated the sometimes tricky ground that lies between filmmakers, distributors, exhibitors, advertisers, and writers that I would get the straight goods. No bullshit, even if he was polite about it.

      He was a calming influence during trying times. He always had a minute for a word or two, and that often stretched into long conversations. He seldom, if ever, lost his temper, and he mostly seemed to be able to see at least the potential for good in all people. His stories were often fascinating, even the trivial anecdotes, and he could always add a useful nugget or two of information to whatever you happened to be working on.

      His memory was legendary, and no one could match him when it came to his annual Oscar predictions. I think he even stopped entering in-house contests at the Straight because it was widely perceived to be no contest, so to speak, if he was involved.

      My only regret is that I failed to get to the hospital in time to say goodbye to my coworker of the past two decades, although we had several talks in the months prior to his entering palliative care. I never detected a note of complaint about his illness, except inasmuch as it prevented him from doing some of the work he loved, like travelling to the Toronto International Film Festival and the East Coast movie junkets.

      Goodbye, Ian.


      Nov 7, 2012 at 6:45pm

      An amazing guy with great stories. We'll miss you Ian

      Michael poole

      Nov 7, 2012 at 7:20pm

      Ian was a great person and true gentleman.... I enjoyed working with him and truly will miss him.

      John Burns

      Nov 7, 2012 at 7:31pm

      Ian was a highlight of my years at the Straight, and continued to be an inspiration to me in our many dealings after I left. His prodigious output, his ability to overcome a fear of flying (this in a man who flew every week!), and his selfless support of family and the local film and TV industry are all testament to his great spirit and gentlemanly qualities. A funny word, gentlemanly, for a man who wore ballcaps and sponsored T-shirts every day, but he remains in my memory a great and admirable gentleman, scholar, and mensch. My condolences to the boys and to his many readers, followers, and friends.

      Raymond Tomlin

      Nov 7, 2012 at 7:44pm

      Met Ian back in 1970, went to university with him, drank beer in the pub with him, laid out The Peak with him week in, week out, remained friends with him since our first meeting, hung out at the Film Festival each year when he was Communications / Media Director (and swapped 'war stories'), listened to him on the radio, read his stuff religiously in The Straight, attended media events with him, went for walks together (Ian never drove, walked most places, took the bus).

      Ian once published a story about how we are always our parent's children, exploring what pet names parents had for their children -- even in his 50s, Ian's parents continued to refer to him as their "bunny" as I do with my children.

      Clearly, Ian's voice, his good humour, his enthusiasm and his humanity will be missed.


      Nov 7, 2012 at 7:55pm

      Everything I've read about Ian today has described him exactly as I knew him. One of the good ones, for sure, and I'm grateful to have known him. My thoughts are with his family and friends and the many, many people who had the good fortune to get to know him.


      Nov 7, 2012 at 11:21pm

      Ken Eisner here. He was a real mentor to me, championing my work at the Straight and helping me get other freelance gigs, first at Playback and then one at Variety that lasted more than 16 years. We're all talking about his influence on our lives and careers, and it's some kind of testimony to his humility that we have to remind ourselves that he was behind so much success for so many other people. Thanks, Ian!

      Bert Harris

      Nov 8, 2012 at 6:31am

      Met Ian in the early 70's not at a newspaper either!! Another story that Ian talked his way through with style that was all Ian.
      Peace Buddy!!! Happy travels!! Just one of your friends from Nakusp!!

      Kimberly Sutherland

      Nov 8, 2012 at 8:07am

      I am so sad to hear this news. I worked with Ian in the past and he was always a super positive, energetic influence in the office (despite that he always had like 4 hrs of sleep cause he'd been flying all over North America interviewing celebrities, of which I loved hearing about). He was so dedicated to his work and always talked about his family with such enthusiasm and appreciation…my condolences go out to them.