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Obit: A. L. 'Chopper' McKinnon

GUEST,Bruce Murdoch 14 Mar 13 - 05:16 PM
GUEST,Bob Ryszkiewicz 14 Mar 13 - 05:22 PM
bobad 14 Mar 13 - 05:42 PM
rumanci 14 Mar 13 - 06:19 PM
bobad 14 Mar 13 - 08:41 PM
Beer 14 Mar 13 - 09:43 PM
GUEST,Bruce Murdoch 14 Mar 13 - 09:50 PM
Beer 14 Mar 13 - 11:14 PM
GUEST,BM 15 Mar 13 - 09:42 AM
bobad 15 Mar 13 - 10:37 AM
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Subject: Obit: A. L. 'Chopper' McKinnon
From: GUEST,Bruce Murdoch
Date: 14 Mar 13 - 05:16 PM

If you live in south-eastern Ontario or south-western Quebec, if you like folkish/roots music, then you you have at one time or other come across the radio show called Canadian Spaces. Chopper passed today and I will miss him. His show ran on CKCU-FM since 1980. He played records/CDs and did live shows presenting Canadian music and songwriters. There aren't too many of us he didn't support with air play. Bless you buddy and RIP.

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Subject: RE: Obit: A. L. 'Chopper' McKinnon
From: GUEST,Bob Ryszkiewicz
Date: 14 Mar 13 - 05:22 PM

"Chopper" was a name I heard often in Folk circles, although I don't recall ever meeting him.

Rest in Peace...bob

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Subject: RE: Obit: A. L. 'Chopper' McKinnon
From: bobad
Date: 14 Mar 13 - 05:42 PM

Chopper was a guest in our home every Saturday morning since we moved to this part of the country. He introduced us to many Canadian singer songwriters we would not have known about had we not tuned him in. Saturday mornings will not be the same without him. We'll pour ourselves a cup of our favorite hot brown drink this Saturday and remember you Chopper - RIP and thank you.

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Subject: RE: Obit: A. L. 'Chopper' McKinnon
From: rumanci
Date: 14 Mar 13 - 06:19 PM

The official obituary from CKCU-FM just released here

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Subject: RE: Obit: A. L. 'Chopper' McKinnon
From: bobad
Date: 14 Mar 13 - 08:41 PM

Sharing this anecdote from Garnet Rogers on Facebook:

"Very saddened today to learn of the death of my old friend Chopper McKinnon...I wonder how many people across Canada are posting much the same words?..He was one of the kindest and gentlest and funniest people I have known...sweet and humble and ever generous both with his time and support, and his single malt.He sold me my first guitar back in the 70's when he was running the Toronto Folklore center..he saw that I needed (or tought I needed a professional quality instrument and he took me upstairs to show me a factory second half price Larrivee, which I played all my years on the road with Stan...and long after.

Chopper had little use for meaness and pretension..One of my favourite memories of him was the morning we were sipping coffee backstage at the VancouverFolk Festival, and the male co-host of CBC's Touch th Earth swept into our midst...he was can I put this kindly?...a douchebag...a nasty bit of business who delighted in flaunting his relative wealth in front of us poor wretched folkies, and who never lost a chance to make sport of us...(god knows why he was on a folk programme)...anyway...this morning he was a vision of loveliness...he was wearing knee high leather boots...a thigh length leather cape, all topped by a wide brimmed leather hat...he was carrying a matching leather brief case and looked like a cross between Pierre Trudeau and Quentin Crisp...He paused dramatically in the door to give us all the full effect of his ensemble, and then strode manfully over to a table and snapped the locks on his attache case...Chopper called out..."Oh Look everybody...It's the Accountant of Monte Cristo!"..Our hero turned red, closed the case, and whirled and swept out of the tent to gales of derisive laughter...Chopper had that well known and well loved quiet smile if to say.."aw was nothin'..."
I'm going to miss that boy"

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Subject: RE: Obit: A. L. 'Chopper' McKinnon
From: Beer
Date: 14 Mar 13 - 09:43 PM

Never met him but heard so much about Chopper that I feel that i knew him very well.

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Subject: RE: Obit: A. L. 'Chopper' McKinnon
From: GUEST,Bruce Murdoch
Date: 14 Mar 13 - 09:50 PM

Adrien, thanks for the email informing me about Chopper's death. Shook me up quite a bit.

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Subject: RE: Obit: A. L. 'Chopper' McKinnon
From: Beer
Date: 14 Mar 13 - 11:14 PM

Sorry if I was cold about it. Should have given the note more thought but was on the run when i found out and knew that you would want to know.


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Subject: RE: Obit: A. L. 'Chopper' McKinnon
Date: 15 Mar 13 - 09:42 AM

I'd rather have heard it from a good friend than just bumped into it on the internet. Thanks again, Ad.

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Subject: RE: Obit: A. L. 'Chopper' McKinnon
From: bobad
Date: 15 Mar 13 - 10:37 AM

From today's Ottawa Citizen:

OTTAWA — Singer-songwriter Lynn Miles was in tears Thursday afternoon after hearing of the death of her friend Allan "Chopper" McKinnon, a longtime fixture on Ottawa's folk music scene.

McKinnon hosted a radio show on folk music program for 33 years and he was a familiar face at the Ottawa Folk Festival and also at the Ottawa Folklore Centre, where he worked. He was a dominant voice for folk music and singer-songwriters in Ottawa, promoting many of Canada's best known artists through Canadian Spaces, his broadcasting perch on Carleton University's CKCU-FM.

"He's always been incredibly supportive of what I do and I have been on his show many times. He was always so kind to me," said an emotional Miles. "He was such a supporter of the folk scene in Ottawa, there's going to be a big hole now."

McKinnon died peacefully at home Wednesday. He was 66. He had battled heart disease for many years.

Born in Rivers, Manitoba, near Brandon, McKinnon was an army brat. He lived in Germany, Ireland, England, and El Paso, Texas. His father was a member of the Canadian Forces. The family settled in Ottawa in 1962 and Chopper went to Woodroffe High School and later to Algonquin College, where he studied to become a lab technician.

He told the Citizen in an interview in 2000 that he worked as lab tech job after graduation but early on he took a break that would last the rest of his life.

He spent a year in the Maritimes watching the waves roll in and learning how to repair guitars. Then he went to Toronto where he was bitten by the music bug. Chopper became involved with that city's folklore centre, as well as a record label. This was happening as the Canadian folk scene was blossoming with the likes of Joni Mitchell and Neil Young filling the coffee houses of Yorkville. He managed a blues band and put some production credits on his resume. Before returning to Ottawa in 1979, Chopper spent some time in Winnipeg.

Back home a year, he started his show as a volunteer for CKCU, something that never changed. For Miles, Canadian Spaces was unique. It was loved by thousands of listeners, not only in Ottawa but across the country. During CKCU's annual fundraising drive, his show always garnered more cash than others on the station, she said.

"Who does a show like that for so many years. Who gets up every Saturday morning and does a show totally devoted to Canadian music, Canadian songwriters and roots music. It takes a huge amount of passion and commitment and love for that kind of music and the people who play that type of music. There's nobody else in Canada who's done that," said the Ottawa performer.

Canadian Spaces started as a 30-minute show but it eventually filled two hours. McKinnon was originally a replacement host for CKCU's American folk-music program and took over the time slot when the original host moved away. He had the distinction of hosting the country's longest-running folk-music radio program. Along the way he interviewed and played the music of such artists as Stan Rogers, Valdy, Colleen Peterson, Bruce Cockburn and Sylvia Tyson.

He was such a tireless promoter of Canadian folk music that on the 20th anniversary of the show in 2000 the city declared Chopper McKinnon Day.

"Chopper was such a fan of Canadian singer-songwriters that he devoted his life to presenting their music to whatever extent he could," said Chris White, producer of Canadian Spaces, who knew him for about 25 years.

He said Chopper had a "distinctive" radio voice and listeners were conditioned to hearing him every Saturday morning, while sipping their coffee. McKinnon's show evolved into a meeting place for folk artists and his specialty was having singers perform live on the radio show, he said.

White said Chopper had a bunch of pet expressions.

"He would say something like 'that's a great CD you got there it sounds like six bucks.' Or he would call people 'space cadets.' He'd open the show by saying 'make yourself a pot of your favourite hot brown drink,' or 'stick around for 40 minutes of uninterrupted folk music.' These are expressions that people have grown to love,' he said.

His brother Alexander said Chopper was drawn to folk music from his years living in El Paso and from visiting bars in Hull and especially the famous Le Hibou coffeehouse where many of the best played.

"Folk music mellowed him out, and he loved it from the bottom of his soul," said Alexander.

There is some disagreement about how Chopper actually got his nickname. Alexander said Chopper was a short, solid lineman on the high school football team and in practice the players would jog in short steps as the coach yelled "chop, chop, chop," he said. The name stuck.

Dennis Ruffo, a high school friend, said Chopper's buddies gave him the nickname because he reminded them of a bulldog character from Yakky Doodle, an animated TV series from the 1960s.

Chopper's favourite's artists will be played on Saturday's Canadian Spaces (93.1 on your radio dial) starting at 10 a.m. A memorial is planned in the next month but the details are not finalized, said his brother.

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