1931 – 2021
On September 19, 2021, John Allan Slaight passed away peacefully, aged 90, at his home in Toronto. Born on July 19, 1931 in Galt, Ontario, to John Edgar and Eileen Slaight, Allan soon made his mark, first, at 8 as a magician, and then, at 17 as a broadcaster, hosting a late night jazz program Spins and Needles in his new hometown of Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan. At 19, he married Ada Mitchell, moved to Edmonton, started a family, and jockeyed between local radio stations before becoming the News Director at CHED in 1953. In 1958, he relocated to Toronto and became the Program Director of CHUM, the fledgling rock and roll radio station. Thanks to Allan’s endless energy, intuitive grasp of programming, and extraordinary ability to inspire, CHUM soon set the standard for rock and roll radio in Canada, and abroad. In 1966, Allan left CHUM to pursue his own endeavours. And the hits kept coming: rescuing Radio Caroline, the pirate radio station serving the U.K., pulling Global Television back from the brink of bankruptcy, creating Q-107 in Toronto, and then acquiring Standard Broadcasting and transforming it into the largest privately-owned network of radio stations in Canada. His indefatigable energy and street smarts also helped shepherd the Toronto Raptors to Toronto. Allan eventually took control of the franchise and the building of the Air Canada Centre before turning ownership over to new stewards. For Allan, people were always more important than profits. He demonstrated this time and time again through his community and philanthropic efforts. Hundreds of organizations-particularly those within healthcare, community services and the arts- benefited not just from his financial contributions, but also from his leadership, creativity, timeliness, and willingness to make his friends and associates their friends and associates. His philanthropic initiatives will percolate across Canada for years to come through The Slaight Family Foundation and La Fondation Emmanuelle Gattuso. While Allan maintained a lifelong love for the conjuring arts, writing one of the most celebrated texts in the history of the literature, his greatest feat was giving people, regardless of their field of endeavour, the confidence and support that they, too, could perform the impossible. The recipient of, among other awards of distinction, a Juno, an Honorary Degree from Ryerson University, a Star on the Canadian Walk of Fame, and the Order of Canada, Allan is survived by his children Gary, Greg and Marie (and their respective partners); five grandchildren (and their partners), and several great-grandchildren; and his brother, Brian (and his wife, Annabel). Allan is also survived by the love of his life these past thirty-five years, his wife, Emmanuelle Gattuso. Together they were one, with a passion for life, for each other, and for helping others. In lieu of flowers, please direct time, energy and, if possible, resources to a charity near to you.
Published in the Toronto Star on September 23, 2021