Ron Caplan

In 2015, the Katharine McLennan Award for exemplary volunteer and community contributions was awarded to Ronald Caplan.

This award is in recognition of his contributions, over a 45 year period, to Cape Breton Island in the areas of cultural heritage preservation, local publishing, folklore, and the arts. But at the heart it is his passion for recognizing, embracing, and acknowledging the people who have in the past, and those who continue to weave into the future, the very fabric of Cape Breton Island.

Born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania Ron graduated from Pennsylvania University with a B.A. in History. Ron went on to open a small graphic design business but by his own admission, was unhappy, and was looking for new meaning in his life. So, in 1971, at the age of 29, he ventured north in a Volkswagen van originally headed for PEI (but with a slight turn right) he landed in Cape Breton – and found a home and his life’s work in Wreck Cove Cape Breton Island.

Ron’s easy-way with people, his every inquiring mind, and his ability to see the unique quality of this Island’s people, their stories and lives indelibly changed Ron but also how we, his readers, see and understand ourselves.

Ron’s professional resume includes:

  • 27 years as the editor, writer and interviewer of Cape Breton’s Magazine;
  • founder and publisher of Breton Books which has championed local history through over 125 publications including: Sister to Courage: Stories from the World of Viola Desmond, Views from the Steel Plant, Talking of Cape Breton Music and Acadian Lives in Cape Breton
  • various musical compilations, numerous articles and exhibits.
  • Ron Caplan, in his spare time, was a member of the Task Force on the Growth of the Arts & Culture Sector of the Cape Breton Growth Fund and the Voluntary Planning’s Heritage Task Force;

    Ron is a member of the Committee for a New Library in Sydney, is volunteer editor and manager of the annual Cape Breton Books Catalogue, and a member of the Board of Trustees of the Public Archives of Nova Scotia.

    Ron Caplan holds a Master of Arts in Atlantic Canada Studies from St Mary’s University and an honorary Doctorate from Cape Breton University; was awarded the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal; and was made a member in the Order of Canada in 2011.

    Perhaps, Evelyn Smith said it best: “He is doing something we should have done for ourselves” but sometimes it takes someone from away to see us in that light!”

    To read Ron’s acceptance speech, click here.

    For 2015 the featured artist was Katherine Scott. To learn more about Katherine, visit her website.