David Mainse, ‘100 Huntley Street’ founder, dies at 81

David Mainse, longtime host of 100 Huntley Street. Rick Madonik/Toronto Star via Getty Images

Rev. David Mainse, founder of Crossroads Christian Communications and Canada’s longest running daily Christian talk show 100 Huntley Street, has died at the age of 81.

Mainse passed away after a five-year battle with myelodysplastic syndrome (MDS) leukemia.

“David stepped down as CEO of Crossroads and host of Canada’s longest running daily television program 100 Huntley Street in the summer of 2003,” says chairman Gil Scott. “But he never really retired. He continued to visit with ministry supporters in person, his daily Bible reading blog and through occasional appearances on air. He will be dearly missed by the Crossroads family, and by the millions of Canadians whose lives have been touched by his public ministry.”

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Under Mainse’s leadership and direction, what began in 1962 as a weekly black-and-white, 15-minute broadcast that aired after the nightly news on a small Pembroke, Ont., TV station grew to become an expansive family of not-for-profit ministries.

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Those ministries included international multimedia programming, an international relief and development organization, a broadcast school (that trained communicators from more than 80 countries around the world) and a national prayer centre that staffs more than 100 volunteers to field 30,000 calls each month, providing 24/7 telephone prayer support to Canadians.

“He was passionate about people, about Canadian unity, and about ecumenical dialogue,” says Lorna Dueck, Crossroads CEO. “That passion led to innovation. David used the platform of daily television to model open, respectful conversation on faith among citizens across denominations and faith groups from coast-to-coast. And his cross-Canada tours made broadcast history.”

It was a result of Mainse’s vision (which was motivated by a desire to see Christian programming in primetime) and his team’s argument before Canada’s broadcast regulator in the early 1980s, that the CRTC determined there was merit to the idea of allowing religious groups to own and operate broadcast stations. This was an opportunity that had not existed in Canada for 50 years.

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The CRTC subsequently amended the Broadcasting Act and later called for applications for religious channels.

Mainse subsequently founded one of Canada’s most-watched religious broadcaster YES TV (formerly CTS) consisting of television stations in Burlington, Calgary and Edmonton. Numerous spin-off ministries were also launched by Crossroads, including the Circle Square Ranch children’s camps (which Crossroads gifted to Inter-Varsity Christian Fellowship in 2011).

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Condolences started pouring in on Twitter once news of his passing spread.

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Mainse leaves behind wife Norma-Jean and four children, Elaine, Ellen, Reynold and Ron, as well as 16 grandchildren and 13 great-grandchildren.

Crossroads will honour the life of Mainse with special programming all week on 100 Huntley Street.

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