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Don receives Order of Canada (2016)

Broadcaster named to Order of Canada

West Vancouver's Don Brinton recognized for pioneering work in TV

July 19, 2016

By: Jeremy Shepherd

North Shore News

Some men seek their destiny; others have it thrust upon them while inspecting frozen soil.

West Vancouver resident and Order of Canada recipient Don Brinton was studying at the University of Alberta in 1950 when he trekked to Yellowknife for a job doing experimental work on the Northwest Territory’s permafrost. As luck would have it, he ran into a family friend who guided him toward his passion: radio.

“I was fascinated by radio,” Brinton recalls.

After dividing his time between being on the ground and on the air, Brinton returned to school, distinguished as the only member of his graduating class who could: “boast any kind of broadcast experience.”

After three years spent broadcasting for the Alberta Federation of Agriculture, Brinton caught the eye of station owner George Richard Agar Rice, who’d been manning the airwaves since 1922.

“He saw some kind of spark in me that I didn’t know I had,” Brinton remembers.

The next thing he knew, he was a news reporter and announcer, publicizing, “the new medium of television, and what it was going to mean to Edmonton.

“We had a lot of fun getting ready for that, because no one knew what the heck they were doing,” Brinton says.

Brinton had a flair for television, and in the 1970s he headed for Winnipeg, where he rose out of the broadcast booth and into the producer’s office to oversee “high money, big stakes” Canadian television.

Canadian content was a rarity in those days, Brinton recalls, noting other stations, “didn’t want to spend the money or didn’t have the money to spend.”

He helped bring in writers, actors and directors to produce several memorable films, including the Manitoba-set Depression-era drama Tramp at the Door.

“They weren’t all Oscar-winning movies, I’m not saying they’re that great, but they were pretty darn good for Canadian productions,” says the grandfather of five. “I’m proud of all of them.”

Brinton suspects it was those forays that won him a place among artists, athletes and scientists as an Order of Canada honouree. Brinton has been named broadcaster of the year by the Western Association of Broadcasters and earned a spot in the Canadian Association of Broadcasters hall of fame, but said this is “the big one.” He was one of 113 appointments made to the Order of Canada July 1, 2016.


Some photos from the reception after the official OoC award presentation at the Governor General's residence, Rideau Hall, with wife Paula, daughters Holly and Susan, and Don's longtime friend and CanWest business colleague Jack Tomik. And the handsome couple, Don and Paula before the formal invite-only GG's dinner for award recipients.


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