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Updated: Sun, 20 Apr 2014 21:21:43 GMT | By CBC News, cbc.ca

Alistair MacLeod, acclaimed Canadian writer, dead at 77



Alistair MacLeod, the renowned Canadian author who wrote about Cape Breton, has died. CBC

Alistair MacLeod, the renowned Canadian author who wrote about Cape Breton, has died. CBC

Alistair MacLeod, one of Canada’s great short story writers whose work detailed the people and culture of Cape Breton, has died. He was 77.

His death was confirmed by his friend, author Donna Morrissey.

"He was a beautiful friend, a mentor, a hero," she told CBC News. "He was just a force that we … looked up to him."

MacLeod was born in North Battleford, Sask. He moved with his family when he was 10 years old to Inverness County, N.S.

He authored two collections of short stories, The Lost Salt Gift of Blood (1976) and As Birds Bring Forth the Sun and Other Stories (1986).

He wrote the novel No Great Mischief (1999), which won the International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award, the Trillium Book Award and the Lannan Literary Award.

In 2004, he also authored the illustrated story To Everything There Is a Season: A Cape Breton Christmas Story (2004).

His writing touched on themes of economic migration, family ties and tensions and portrayals of cultural decline.

MacLeod taught literature and creative writing at the University of Windsor and was retired. He would return to Inverness County during the summer, where he wrote in a cabin looking west towards Prince Edward Island.

In 2008, MacLeod was appointed an Officer of the Order of Canada for his commitment to Canadian literature and influence on Canadian authors.

"He was just this stable, stoic presence with his cap, that sombre expression that he always wore," Morrissey said.

"I used to be so intimidated by him. But he was always holding out his hand and saying, ‘Hello friend.’ That was his thing to say."

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