Lister Sinclair, 85; broadcaster, playwright, Renaissance man

From Times Staff and Wire Reports

Lister Sinclair, 85, a longtime broadcaster and playwright who was considered one of Canada’s Renaissance men, died Oct. 16 in a Toronto hospital. No cause of death was announced.

Sinclair, who joined the public Canadian Broadcasting Corp. in 1944, was host of the popular radio show “Ideas” for 16 years, from 1983 until his retirement seven years ago.

He wrote hundreds of radio and television plays and was once referred to by Canadian theater critic Nathan Cohen as “easily the foremost in Canada’s array of postwar playwrights.”

In 1972, Sinclair became vice president of the CBC and helped organize what is now known as the Alliance of Canadian Cinema, Television and Radio Artists.


The son of a chemical engineer, Lister was born Jan. 9, 1921, in Mumbai, India, and raised in Britain by an aunt. Lister and his mother were visiting the United States when World War II broke out in 1939.

Mother and son ended up settling in Canada, where Lister earned a bachelor’s degree at the University of British Columbia and a master’s degree at the University of Toronto.