Media mogul, former National Arts Centre president Peter Herrndorf dies, family says
TORONTO — Peter Herrndorf, lawyer, Canadian media mogul and the former president and chief executive officer of the National Arts Centre, has died at age 82.
Matthew Herrndorf confirmed the news, saying his father died of cancer early Saturday morning "surrounded by family" at Toronto's Hennick Bridgepoint Hospital.
"He had a big and consequential and important life, and (it's) hard to put into words what he meant to us and what he meant to Canada," Matthew Herrndorf said in an interview Saturday.
Peter Herrndorf served as head of the National Arts Centre from 1999 to 2018 after a long career in media, and is credited for establishing the NAC Foundation and NAC’s Indigenous Theatre Department.
"Our hearts are broken as we mourn the loss of Peter Herrndorf, one of Canada’s greatest cultural leaders and visionary," the centre tweeted on Saturday afternoon.
"Our deepest condolences to the Herrndorf family. We honour the memory of our former President and CEO (1999-2018) by lowering our flag at half-mast."
Herrndorf was born in Amsterdam, raised in Winnipeg, and got a political science and English degree from the University of Manitoba in 1962. He later studied law at Dalhousie University and obtained a master's in administration from Harvard Business School, his biography on the NAC's website said.
Herrndorf joined the CBC in Winnipeg in 1965, eventually becoming a vice-president, where he helped develop long-standing series including The Fifth Estate and The Journal.
He later took on roles as publisher of Toronto Life magazine, as well as chairman and CEO of TVOntario.
Herrndorf's longstanding support for Canada's arts community saw him named to the order of Canada in 1993, and he was later promoted to its highest level of Companion in 2018. His efforts to raise the National Arts Centre's profile and cultivate home-grown talent were cited among his accomplishments when the promotion was announced.
He was also awarded the Order of Ontario in 2008 for having "revolutionized Canadian broadcasting, publishing and the performing arts" at the various organizations where he served.
He later received the Lifetime Artistic Achievement Award from former Governor General Julie Payette during the Governor General's Performing Arts Awards at Rideau Hall in Ottawa in 2018.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 18, 2023.
The Canadian Press
Note to readers: This is a corrected story. A previous version said Herrndorf was awarded the Order of Ontario in 2007. He, in fact, was awarded the Order of Ontario in 2008.