Matthew Cope RIP

Written by  //  January 20, 2021  //  Absent Friends  //  No comments

Matthew and I became virtual friends first, then met up for coffee;  from then on, he became a delightful ‘real’ friend and Wednesday Nighter – so erudite, entertaining, with a wealth of fascinating stories, well-founded opinions, and, as his friend Lenora mentioned, a short fuse for stupidity and prejudice -as well as bad grammar.

RIP, dear Matthew, I shall miss you, your wit and wisdom, and our daily exchanges terribly. Please haunt us and whisper in our ears.
With deepest sympathy to all who loved and admired him.

13 January
Montreal journalist, screenwriter Matthew Cope dies at age 74
A sad loss for Montreal’s arts and culture community – screenwriter, photographer and journalist Matthew Cope passed away today after a brief illness.
(CJAD) Born in England, Cope’s unmistakable voice was often heard on the Melanie King Show in the 1980s chatting about movies. But he was a virtual Renaissance man who worked as a photographer and then dabbled in radio and TV after arriving in Montreal in 1972 before sp[r]eading his wings into screenwriting.
His close friend Michael Libling, host of the original Trivia Show on CJAD 800, said they spoke almost every day, including last Friday for an hour “chatting about movies, TV, books and politics.” It was the day before Cope fell ill.
“He leaves a tremendous void. He was witty, funny, smart, wise and grumpy as heck right to the end…and I loved every minute of it. The weirdest thing is, I want to call him right now and speak to him about his own passing. It is truly and totally crushing,” Libling told CJAD in a written comment.
Libling, his wife, Cope and CJAD 800 host Dr. Joe Schwarcz got together every weekend at a different restaurant for their Saturday Morning Breakfast Club.
“Our morning breakfast meetings were diverse – we discussed everything from politics to theatre to movies to newspaper articles and Matthew was able to comment on absolutely everything,” said Schwarcz in a phone interview.
“In his various careers, he had interviewed a lot of very interesting and famous people. So he would regale us with stories and whenever something would come up, we’d have some discussion and Matthew would come in and say, ‘Oh, yeah, I met him, I met Sean Connery – it was this time and here and there.’ So he always had something interesting to say.”

Alan Hustak on Facebook:
Leonard Cohen – Anthem
Our dear crusty and wonderful friend, Matthew, has left us. I shall miss his guidance, his daily posts, and his quirky wonderful street photography. Farewell, dear Matthew. … On friday (sic) he was bitching because the horizon on a photograph I took was wonky, and he corrected it.
In reply, Suzanne Lacroix Villeneuve:
that is pure Cope!
Our favourite grammar martinet! Who else will keep us on the straight and narrow for all things spelling, syntax and beautiful perfect photos?
I will miss his stinging sarcasm, his intolerance for stupidity, and his sometimes infinite compassion, humour and kindness.

Brownstein: City has lost another original with the death of Matthew Cope
(Montreal Gazette) Cope was the ultimate iconoclast. He was as sharp a skeptic as they come, with opinions on everything. With his wickedly dry and droll wit, he took more of a velvet hammer approach in taking on his targets, but he didn’t hold back on being curmudgeonly when need be.
Cope had a strong following as an entertainment critic on radio and TV. He later segued to screenwriting and editing on such hit animated series as Bob and Margaret, Caillou and What’s With Andy, and he wrote for the Cirque du Soleil.
But his passion was photography.
Cope is survived by his wife Mitsuru. Friends are hoping for a memorial to take place shortly.

Gina Roitman:
In 1975, as Director of Fundraising for Centaur Theatre, I hired Matthew Cope on as an associate although he did point out, in all honesty, that a degree in Medieval History hardly qualified him for the position. He was wrong. Later, we worked together at #FM96 and all through his many careers, our friendship and affection for each other never wavered. As a radio and then TV personality, a film scriptwriter, script doctor, and wordsmith for the Cirque de Soleil, and all the many other roles he filled with wit and wisdom, he always remained true to himself. I will miss you, my friend, although I don’t believe you’ll ever be truly gone. My sincere sympathies to Mitsuru.

Andy Nulman
Matthew was a huge Monty Python fan. When Eric Idle hosted a Just For Laughs Gala, Matthew called and asked if he could meet Eric. I told him “I’ll do you one better. How’d you like to be on stage with him as part of The Lumberjack Song?” Matthew was overjoyed (I’m looking for the picture of him in full Mountie regalia, and will post if and when I find it).
But that was just the precursor to the main event. A few years later, we went one step further when Matthew appeared in the John Cleese Gala, playing himself in an epic sketch called “Cleese Idol” (see video; Matthew appears at around the 2:00 mark). Given that Cleese is a perfectionist, Matthew spent a full week rehearsing with him at Place Des Arts, where he took countless pictures and traded even more stories. We spoke often about those two events, which he said were amongst the happiest moments of his life.

Edouard Jean Le Duc
I used to be a fan of Matthew Cope with his daily “Take a Break” segments on CFCF in the early 80s. I was in my late teens then.
I was totally starstruck when I first bumped into him at Sam the Record Man downtown.
Little did I know I would run into him with increasing frequency over the next 36 years as a movie reviewing colleague at press screenings, a programmer at Just for Laughs and as a screenwriter at various production houses.
He became my biggest cheerleader and, in recent years, my bestie on Facebook and occasional lunch partner. Matthew was a brilliant conversationalist and storyteller.
I’m going to miss the way he mastered the very British art of humorously hurl an insult which concealed a compliment or an honest expression of affection.
I’m going to miss seeing him snapping his way through events and the unique way he would get people to pose for him by asking “May I borrow your face?”
I’m going to miss his comments and zingers on my FB page.
I’m going to miss his photos- and seeing his support of mine.
I’m just gonna miss him, dammit.

Tristan Brand
To all of Matthew’s friends and family;
My heart has skipped a number of beats on hearing the news that Matthew has left us. I met Matthew more then 15 years ago while I was working for Just For Laughs. Matthew and I are both professional photographers; but on that day I had taken a non-photography job managing a venue for JFL. Part of my job was managing photographers and other media people coming to cover the show. Matthew showed up to cover a show for the Montreal Gazette.
I aspire to be genuine and gentlemanly when I work; and I recognize that I learned this from people like Matthew. I try not to step hard, get in people’s way, cause too much trouble. I looked up to (and still look up to) older, more experienced photographers who follow the same path, get great images and leave you with a positive sense in their wake.
Matthew was exactly that. He was kind, respectful and his images were far better then those of any of his cohorts who took up far more space. I knew right away that Matthew was the kind of person I should aspire to be as I age in my profession. And he had that outspoken edge when it came to matters of injustice and chaos.
I liked him a lot.
It is a downright shame to me that he has left us today. I looked forward to catching up some more with him and hearing more about what sort of life he has lived. I feel like I was just getting to know him in the last year thanks to Diana Nicholson and some mutual friends. So thank you to them.
And thank you to you, Matthew, for being you.

From Joe Schwarcz’s Facebook page.
So long Matthew…
Every Saturday morning for the past four years my friends Michael and Pat Libling and Matthew Cope would meet at one of the many great breakfast places Montreal has to offer. With the onset of COVID-19, we were forced to switch to Facetime, but we managed to continue almost as if we were physically together.
Last Saturday Matthew wasn’t able to join us because he said he wasn’t feeling well. Later that day came the gut-wrenching news that he had been taken to hospital with little chance of recovery. This afternoon our friend left us forever. It’s the kind of news that just leaves you stunned.
I had run across Matthew over the years at CJAD and CTV, but it was only with our weekly breakfast meetings that I really became familiar with his British wit, pointed sarcasm, ability to sniff out charlatans and his amazing story-telling ability. Oh, he had stories galore, given that in his media career he had interviewed and written about personalities both famous and infamous.
No matter what the topic of discussion, Matthew always had an insightful, often cutting remark. Whether the subject was Trump’s latest antics, the newest releases on Netflix, Hollywood gossip, the quality of the poached eggs or why Michael and Pat could not set their iPad up in such a way that they were both in the picture, Matthew was there with witty contributions.
With his passing, our Saturday morning breakfast meetings will never be the same. No matter who may join us, there will always be an empty chair at the table.
So long for now my clever friend….we will hoist several cups of coffee in your memory on Saturday… — with Michael Libling.

Richard Conrad
Absolutely totally shocked to hear of Mat’s passing. As you may or may not recall, he was a terrific asset as a frequent free-lance contributor to (our ultimately ill-fated) This Week in Business—adding his exceptional talent to a newsroom that included a cast of colourful characters ranging from our beloved late Chairman to Isabelle Trujillo and more…
RIP Matthew.

The comments posted on Matthew’s Facebook page give great insight into his influence among a wide circle of friends and how loved he was.
From Annick Robinson: “I keep visiting his page, knowing he is no longer here, looking for shadows of him in the comments. For years, he has been such a pillar of the discourse of my days, I miss him though we had never met. It still doesn’t quite make sense that someone with such a powerful presence has gone.”
And this from Barbara Cooley, whom I only know as one of Matthew’s Fb friends:  “How can I feel such grief for a person I’ve never met before? How does the world seem to go dark with the loss of just one of my hundreds of imaginary friends? How can my grief compare to the grief of those who occupied the same time and space as the departed? Who am I to toss my sense of loss onto the funeral pyre of those who were 3D presences in Matthew’s life, those who were wife, nieces, longtime friends, neighbors, and colleagues? These questions have bothered me.”

Matthew’s last posts on Facebook were on January 9th and included some wonderful photographs along with this typical comment “I’m not on Twitter. FB is more than enough of a time-sink and I don’t want another one with all the lunatics on that one…

 

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