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Bryan Cantley: A True Canadian Newspaper Superhero

Posted On: August 6, 2013

I love newspapers. Even though I only subscribe to The Globe and Mail, every morning I’m surfing the Star, Sun and Post online.

Not surprisingly, one of my favourite jobs every year was producing video profiles of nominees for the National Newspaper Awards.  We produced the show for 18 years – and then passed the project on to Q Media alumnus Rafael Ludwig three years ago when it was no longer financially viable.

Photo of Bryan and his colleaguesOne of the reasons it was my favourite, was my colleague and friend, Bryan Cantley. Bryan loved and lived newspapers. He was our producer/client/writer/proof reader/worrier for the Award shows. In a lot of ways, the project was a pain in the ass. Submissions always seemed to be late. In the early days, before PDFs, we’d have to film dog-eared newspaper pages, full of pen and high-lighter marks and try to produce an ultra-polished presentation. Bryan, sleep deprived as deadlines approached, would almost turn into the caricature of a grouchy newspaper man, equal parts growling at and fretting delays and mix-ups. Inevitably, in marathon voice-over sessions, we’d find a spelling error, or would be unsure of the pronunciation of a new nominee like Lucas Oleniuk, Elizabeth Withey or Martin Mittlestaedt. Almost comically, Bryan would react like he’d been shot. Ever the newspaper man, he stressed every phrase and comma. A spelling error was inconceivable. And he didn’t want to disappoint any nominee by mispronouncing their name. He truly respected their work and wanted them to be recognized and appreciated. They were newspaper heroes and he wanted them to have their due.

Illustration of Bryan Cantley

A retirement present for Bryan by the great Montreal Gazette cartoonist, Aislin. It’s how many of us think of Bryan.

You learn a lot from someone who sweats the details. Bryan wouldn’t relax until the last nominee profile had ended, then he’d lean back with the biggest smile you could imagine. He’d take in the inevitable kudos with grace, but I think at a deeper level he always felt that he’d done his bit to champion newspapers, big and small, in Canada.

In the quiet moments, Bryan would tell us stories of the incredible lengths journalist would go to get the story right. He had an incredible appreciation for journalists like Stephanie Nolen and John Stackhouse, photographers like Lucas Oleniuk, even cartoonists like Serge Chapleau, individuals who would dig beneath the headlines to capture the real story.

For Bryan, that mattered. For me, I always felt that with Bryan, I had front row seats to the greatest game in town: newspaper journalism.

For that I’d like to say, thanks Bryan.

Sadly, Bryan passed away on June 25th.  He will be missed.


He used to write, direct, shoot, edit … started Q in 2000 and grew the business so successfully that his talented staff took over all of his roles. Now Richard provides his wisdom on his blog Picture This!, plays Angry Birds, and oh yeah -- he juggles about 20 projects at once. Get to know Richard a little better ...

One Comment on “Bryan Cantley: A True Canadian Newspaper Superhero”

  1. Lauraine Woods
    November 21, 2013 at 6:52 pm

    Hi Richard,
    I just found this tribute tonight, while looking for material for Bryan’s tribute at next May’s gala. I was Bryan’s assistant for four years, and am carrying on now without him. Spent some time with his widow Eleanor today gathering photos and scrapbooks. Anyway, thanks for this. You captured his character very well — and you saw him in his most stressed times. I learned a lot from this piece.


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