Article by Mark Hoffe
When the man is Geoffrey William Stirling, separating the man from the myth is no easy task.
Canadian cultural icon, media mogul, author, filmmaker and spiritual seeker, Geoff was a unique tycoon whose global reach always remained rooted in his love for Newfoundland.
The task of separating the man from the myth is tackled in Captain Newfoundland: The True Geoff Stirling Story, a feature-length documentary currently in early stages of development. Written and directed by Geoff’s grandson Jesse Stirling, local filmmaker Roger Maunder of Up Sky Down Films will shoot and produce along with Brad Gover in producing and editing roles. “I always wanted to write a book on my grandfather Geoff Stirling’s life, or create some type of tribute film,” says Jesse. “My grandfather, being very humble and always shirking any kind of accolade or award, would warn me: ‘None of that nonsense while I’m still in the movie, buddy.’ Meaning while he was still alive.”
Once Jesse made the decision to make the film, and researched and collected old photos, archived footage, personal stories, and contacts to interview, he decided to keep the film local and contacted Maunder to partner with him. “Geoff was an amazing individual. He was the guy I always wanted to meet, especially after watching Waiting For Fidel,” says Maunder. “He was a visionary. He was a creator. The things he created helped shape me as a filmmaker. And I’m so grateful to Jesse for asking me to be a part of telling his story.”
“I always believed that Geoff’s life story would make an amazing documentary,” says Gover. “Of course his pioneering work in broadcasting will be highlighted, but his spiritual beliefs and personal life were also incredible.”
A life-long practitioner of yoga, meditation and extraordinary long fasts, Geoff was always out there on the edge of both business and spiritual frontiers, his work ethic and dedication to self-reliance strong lessons for those fortunate to know him. “Geoff was just the total hero of my life,” says Jesse. “On the business level, he taught me an amazing work ethic, but also that if you love what you do, it doesn’t feel like you are working for a second. On a spiritual level, he taught me about Oneness, the meaning of ‘as above, so below’.”
Although he regretfully passed away at age 92 in December 2013, everybody seems to have a Geoff Stirling tale to tell to keep his spirit and legacy alive. Perhaps this one about a trip to the George Street Festival, as told by Jesse, reveals more about the man than the myth ever could: “My grandfather and I both had VIP passes, but Geoff still wanted to stop and pay cash at the ticket booth. I mentioned something like, ‘You know, we are the media sponsor of this event – we have VIP passes and don’t have to pay for it.’ Geoff responded: ‘I bet those artists appreciate the contribution. Always support musicians, man. Always support the arts. Always support LOCAL.”