150+ Canadians Day 116: Roy Bonisteel

Roy Bonisteel contributed to peace by reporting on religion on CBC TV’s Man Alive as “Canada’s Humanities Teacher.”

Roy Bonisteel, radio broadcaster, journalist, television host, university instructor and citizenship judge was born in 1930. From 1967 to 1989 he was host of the CBC Television program Man Alive, which explored man’s relation to spirit, spirituality and religion.

Called, “Canada’s Humanities Teacher” by the Globe and Mail, Roy Bonisteel interviewed thought leaders of his time: Malcolm Muggeridge, Eli Wiesel, Mother Teresa, the 14th Dalai Lama, Hans Kung and many others.

In 1964, at a time when Canadian broadcasting regulation required radio stations to broadcast religious shows, Bonisteel entered into an agreement with the United Church of Canada to produce a 15-minute program titled Checkpoint. The show was syndicated across Canada. This then led to a position as director of broadcast for the United Church in Vancouver in 1965. He received an appointment as head of ecumenical radio operations for the Anglican, Roman Catholic and United churches, in Vancouver, the first person to have such an assignment. Bonisteel started a religious open-line radio program titled God Talk, with a panel consisting of Rev. Walter Donald, Rev. Jack Shaver and Fr. John Shields.

“We are moulded into a materialistic world where we do a lot eating, drinking and making merry until we ask the basic questions, ‘Who am I? Where am I going? What is our purpose in life?'”

A bronze memorial statue of Bonisteel, seated and holding a book, overlooks the Bay of Quinte in a Belleville garden.

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