More on Winnipeg’s Non-celebration of Marshall McLuhan’s Centenary

04Aug11

Gladstone Elementary School, Winnipeg, Manitoba

 TELLING TALES OUT OF SCHOOL

Winnipeg Free Press – ONLINE EDITION   –   By: Nick Martin – 08/4/2011

A message from one medium

The recent big piece I did on the centenary of Marshall McLuhan’s birth drew one of the largest positive email responses I can remember in quite a while.

You can read it here.

Email responses, more or less, generally come signed by reasonable and thoughtful adults, unlike the posted responses from people hiding behind the anonymity of ‘Internet handles’….but I digress.

People had a variety of ideas for honouring McLuhan, who moved here at the age of three, attended Gladstone, Earl Grey, and Kelvin, and received his first two degrees, a BA and a master’s, at the University of Manitoba.

They suggested the obvious to honour McLuhan — a street, a school — and some more novel ideas, such as picking up on the suggestion of his son Eric McLuhan a few years back, to establish an outside-the-box school of communications here.

But if there was any consensus, it was a sense of being appalled that Winnipeg has virtually ignored the genius who grew up here, and who is possibly the best-known Winnipegger internationally. His centenary was celebrated far and wide, but not in Winnipeg.

Yes, U of M named a reception room after McLuhan in 2004.

These days, university buildings tend to get named after major benefactors, and it’s highly unlikely that Winnipeg School Division will get a new school built — replacement schools, probably, but not a completely new one.

It’s not unheard-of for schools to be renamed, though we’re still waiting on a school named after Terry Fox. But I digress again.

The city was apparently far too busy honouring Gene Simmons to follow the lead of Edmonton — McLuhan was born there, but left at the age of three — which celebrated his birthday with a special day, amid a much lengthier academic celebration organized by the University of Alberta.

But why in the world would Winnipeg School Division not want to proclaim to its 34,000 or so children that its schools had educated a global genius?

Talk about role models and sources of inspiration…..

Sigh.

Earl Grey principal Gail Singer has mused that maybe the school could honour McLuhan when Earl Grey marks its own 100th in 2015.

That’s a good start.

Surely a lot of you have some innovative ways to tell the world that Marshall McLuhan was one of us. How about sharing them?

Nick Martin, Winnipeg Free Press    http://tinyurl.com/43xvrtn

Kelvin High School, Winnipeg, Manitoba

 

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