Peter Herrndorf, a lawyer, Canadian media mogul, and former president and chief executive officer of the National Arts Centre, passed away at the age of 82 on Saturday morning at Toronto’s Hennick Bridgepoint Hospital. Matthew Herrndorf, his son, stated that his father died surrounded by family after battling cancer. He also said that his father had a “big and consequential and important life” and it is hard to put into words what he meant to the family and Canada.
Peter Herrndorf had a long career in media, and during his time as head of the National Arts Centre from 1999 to 2018, he established the NAC Foundation and NAC’s Indigenous Theatre Department. He was born in Amsterdam, raised in Winnipeg, and earned 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.
Herrndorf began his career in media at 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 then went on to be the publisher of Toronto Life magazine, and chairman and CEO of TVOntario.
In 2008, Herrndorf was awarded the Order of Ontario for revolutionizing Canadian broadcasting, publishing, and the performing arts at the various organizations he served. In 2018, he 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.