With his series of eco interviews, Silver Donald Cameron leaves a green legacy
The federal Library and Archives of Canada is adding the more than 100 interviews Cameron conducted to its permanent collection, and has established a YouTube channel for the material
Silver Donald Cameron struck gold with his final series of green interviews.
Silver Donald Cameron may have acquired his nickname for the colour of his hair, but ultimately the hue of his legacy is green.
The long-time journalist, author and documentarian who died in 2020 established The Green Interview. Over the course of a decade, Cameron produced and published more than 100 interviews and six films “on the future of life on earth and humanity’s responsibilities in sustaining it,” according to the Library and Archives of Canada.
The latter recently announced that it intends to preserve the interviews and films in its permanent collection and has established a YouTube channel to provide public access to the material.
In his documentaries, Cameron discussed sustainability and the future of the planet with prominent leaders and advocates, ranging from Farley Mowat, Robert Bateman and David Suzuki, to Jane Goodall, Yvon Chouinard, and the former Prime Minister of Bhutan.
Originally, Cameron produced the documentaries as a paid subscription service, but Library and Archives Canada wrote that family and friends with the support of private donors fulfilled his wish to make the material freely available.
Chris Beckett worked with Cameron as his co-creator on The Green Interview. Beckett wrote and directed for CBC news and current affairs in Atlantic Canada, held senior positions with several other broadcasters, and ultimately joined Mount Saint Vincent University as coordinator of instructional television.
Cameron’s wife, journalist Marjoie Simmins, said Cameron’s nickname “Silver” came about after living in Cape Breton when he became “fed up with people mistaking him for umpteen other Donald Camerons in this region and across the country.” Finally, Cameron’s friend - Tom Gallant, the actor, author, musician and sailor - considering Cameron’s dark eyebrows and prematurely grey hair - dubbed him Silver Donald.
The nickname was far from his only legacy. Before his death on June 1, 2020 from complications from lung cancer, Cameron left a large body of work. It included plays, films, radio and TV scripts, many magazine articles, and 20 books.
Cameron was in his first year of a three-year terms as the first Farley Mowat Chair in Environment at Cape Breton University at the time of his death.
It’s hard to underestimate Cameron’s influence. He won numerous awards for his writing, including four National Magazine Awards, and served on numerous Canada Council juries. Cameron became the first Dean of the School of Community Studies at the University College of Cape Breton (now Cape Breton University), and previously taught at Dalhousie University, the University of British Columbia and the University of New Brunswick.
He held a B.A. from U.B.C., an M.A. from the University of California, and a Ph.D. from the University of London, England. In 2004 he received an honorary Doctor of Civil Law degree from the University of King’s College, and in 2007 Cape Breton University awarded him an honorary D. Litt. In 2012 he was appointed a Member of both the Order of Canada and the Order of Nova Scotia.
In The Globe and Mail, James Cullingham recounted that Cameron was born Donald Allan Cameron on June 21, 1937, in Toronto. It wasn’t until 1971 that he moved to the village of D’Escousse on Isle Madame just off the southeastern corner of Cape Breton Island, taking up a career as a freelance writer, according to Cullingham.
In the trade magazine for the publishing industry, Douglas Gibson - McClelland & Stewart’s former’s publishers - recalled of Cameron that “in the course of his important career he seemed to be involved in everything, from the Writers’ Union to the worlds of fiction and non-fiction, in addition to his teaching thousands of lucky students over the years.”
With his final series of green interviews, Silver Donald appears to have struck gold.
I loved Silver Donald Cameron. I met him several times. I followed the Green Interviews & posted about them all the time. I also have his CD Salmon Wars. I have several of his books, including one on the Bluenose that includes a passage about my brother Ian Morrison, who sailed her.
Hi Charles. Typo on Marjorie's name.