High station in life is earned by the gallantry with which appalling experiences are survived with grace.”

-Gordon Pinsent

Gordon Pinsent (1930-2023)

2004 Lifetime Artistic Achievement (Screens and Voices (formerly Broadcasting and Film))

Gordon Pinsent has contributed to our country's entertainment heritage on many levels – as actor, director, writer, producer, and supporter of all things artistic that Canada has to offer. It is difficult to decide where his true creative heart beats. But we can be sure that all of his prodigious creative energies are rooted in his understanding and love of Canada and, most particularly, of his home province of Newfoundland, where he was born, in Grand Falls, in 1930.

He served with the Royal Canadian Regiment for 3 years and worked as a dance instructor and illustrator before he talked himself into his first job as an actor at the Winnipeg Repertory Theatre. He watched a play at that theatre one evening and lingered to talk to the director who asked him if he had ever acted, to which he replied “Yes, but I've never learned how to do small parts, just leading roles.” While there, he was also involved in many of the first radio dramas and the first live network television programs to be broadcast from that city.

His roles range from icons of the establishment such as Member of Parliament, Quentin Durgens (Quentin Durgens M.P.) and President of the United States (The Forbin Project) or Sergeant Scott of the Forest Rangers and Constable Fraser Sr. on Due South to the iconoclastic, such as Will Cole (The Rowdyman) and John in John and the Missus, both of which he wrote.

He continues to contribute on all fronts, showing a constantly developing passion and understanding of his homeland and his art. A multi-talented performer and creator, he has been heard in theatres across Canada and he has broadened his reach by transferring, with notable success, many of his own creations from page to stage to screen. A true artist, he draws upon his life experience for inspiration and finds wide public acceptance for his work because his audience is immediately intrigued by the familiarity of his situations and drawn by the very genuine characters he creates.

He has been honoured academically (Memorial University, U.P.E.I. and Queen's) and for film (three Genie Awards), television (five Gemini Awards) and the stage (DORA). He is also the recipient of ACTRA's Lifetime Achievement Award and the Banff Television Festival Award for Lifetime Achievement. For his service to the entertainment industry, he received the John Drainie Award for Contribution to Broadcasting and his country has honoured him as an Officer of the Order of Canada (1980) and Companion of that Order (1998).

His most recent work includes the acclaimed film The Shipping News and the CBC radio drama Test Drive.