ACTRA Ottawa Our LeadershipNewsroomWhat's ShootingOur IndustryAwards

Find a Performer
John Dunsworth Screen Actors Fund
Low-Budget Agreements

Bruce Armstrong

Bruce Armstrong, aka Uncle Max, enchanted kids, authored several books
Published January 28, 2014 – 6:02pm

Bruce Armstrong, also known as Uncle Max from the local CBC series Max Museum in the late 1960s, died last week in Halifax. (THE CHRONICLE HERALD)
Bruce Armstrong came to Nova Scotia as a magician and actor and became an award-winning author.
The man known as Uncle Max died Jan. 22 at the age of 80 at Parkstone Enhanced Care in Halifax after suffering from dementia.
Armstrong, also a broadcaster, was born in Montreal as David Chalmers. When he was adopted by Owen and Jean Armstrong, he became Bruce Owen Armstrong.
His adoptive parents were Dalhousie University graduates. After an acting career in Toronto, he came to Nova Scotia in 1966 for CBC’s Razzle Dazzle. From 1968 to 1971 he was Uncle Max, host of the CBC-TV series Max Museum, a variety program for young people that he also wrote.
“There are so many children who remember Bruce; he really touched a lot of people’s lives,” said longtime friend Bobbie Cameron. “He was so magical, he was a romantic, he followed his dreams. Everything he did, he perfected it.”
Armstrong was given a magic set as a child and did his first magic show at the age of 13.
“Magic was his passion,” said Cameron.
“He said this in a newspaper article: ‘I believe magic creates a fresh childlike but not childish feeling about the world. … It turns the rules around immediately. It helps people see things that normally they would never see.’”
A member of the International Brotherhood of Magicians, Armstrong performed at the Halifax International Busker Festival in 1987 and 1988, taught magic at Dalhousie University’s Henson College and was a guest lecturer for magic societies in Toronto, Chicago and Philadelphia.
He was a man of many talents and interests. He acted at Neptune Theatre in Halifax and Ship’s Company Theatre in Parrsboro, as well as in numerous CBC Radio dramas. He was a guest on national TV and radio shows, and worked as a writer in radio drama and docu-drama.
Armstrong was vice-president of the Friends of the Halifax Public Gardens.
He edited The Encyclopedia of Suspensions and Levitations, and wrote Sanctuary: Halifax’s Parks & Public Gardens 1996, with photos by John Davis, and Touchstones: Encounters With the Spirit of Nova Scotia with photographs by Karen Nieuwland.
He won the Evelyn Richardson Award in 1982 for his 1981 book, Sable Island. Nova Scotia writer Harry Thurston, a four-time winner of the Richardson prize for books, including Tidal Life: A Natural History of the Bay of Fundy, calls it a modern classic.
“I think it is one of the finest natural history books that has come out of the region. It stands many years later as the definitive book on Sable Island,” Thurston said.
“Bruce was a friend and a mentor and a model. He provided a model of inspiration for my book on the Bay of Fundy. Bruce had a strong interest in the spiritual aspect of nature.”
In the early 1970s, both writers were on the board of the Writers’ Federation of Nova Scotia.
“We would see each other, as well, at the Trident book shop. Whenever I was in Halifax I ended up at the bookshop, and Bruce was almost artist-in-residence there.”
Trident Booksellers & Cafe owner Hudson Shotwell remembers Armstrong as a regular for 20 years.
“He came in every day. He drank Earl Grey tea and he ate carrot cake. He had a lot of friends, and they’d come and meet him at his table.”
Cameron remembers the day she took a bus ride with Armstrong and went on Spring Garden Road.
“It amazed me, the number of people that knew Bruce and loved him. He was very deep and gentle and kind.”
Armstrong is survived by three children — Rob, Cathy and Chris — in Langley, B.C. A celebration of his life will be held at a later date.

National News
To view all ACTRA National Press releases please click here
Local News
2018 Archives
2017 Archives
2016 Archives
2015 Archives
2014 Archives
2013 Archives
2012 Archives
2011 Archives
2010 Archives
Privacy  |  Legal Text  |  Site Map