Digital exhibit marks Margaret Lyons’ 100th birthday

A graphic with a picture of Margaret Lyons alongside text that reads

'Remembering Margaret Lyons' celebrates the life and legacy of one of Canada's most influential radio executives.

The Lyons New Media Centre has launched a digital exhibit celebrating the life and legacy of one of its namesakes.

Keiko Margaret Lyons (née Inouye; 1923-2019) paved the way for women in Canadian broadcasting.

Known to many as Margaret, she graduated from McMaster University in 1949 with a degree in political economy and went on to become one of Canada’s most influential radio executives.

During the 1970s, Lyons played a central role in the revitalization of CBC Radio. She was appointed as the corporation’s first woman vice-president in 1983.

“Margaret’s boldness did so much for the future benefit of women that followed in her footsteps and for the state of public broadcasting in Canada,” said Rhonda Moore, manager of Lyons New Media Centre. “We are pleased to mark what would have been her 100th birthday with an online exhibit that pays tribute to her many accomplishments.”

The Remembering Margaret Lyons digital exhibit features personal letters, photographs, and awards that she collected as a student at McMaster and during her four-decade career in broadcast journalism. Her honorary Doctorate of Letters, awarded by McMaster in 1996, is also on display.

Lyons was invested as a member of the Order of Canada in 2010 for her outstanding contributions to Canadian broadcasting.

In the same year, the Lyons New Media Centre, named for Margaret and Ed Lyons, opened on the fourth floor of Mills Memorial Library. The vibrant space provides McMaster students, faculty, and staff with free access to the latest media production equipment and software.

Over the years, the centre has evolved to keep up with current trends in media and technology. It opened a virtual reality room and podcast studio earlier this fall.

Lyons’ daughter, Ruth, says her mother was always grateful for the opportunity that McMaster provided by enabling her to acquire the education she needed to launch her career.

“She paid it back in her own way, by providing the means for a new crop of students to have access to the newest tools so they, too, could compete on the world stage,” said Ruth Lyons.

“She also had a very good sense of humor, and I bet she would have been one of the first people to line up for a chance to play in the virtual reality room. But I know she would first and foremost hope that the centre was a place that provides everything needed to inspire students, so they can tell their stories to all the rest of us.”

The Remembering Margaret Lyons digital exhibit is available to the public indefinitely. A selection of physical items from the exhibit are on display in person at Lyons New Media Centre.

Meanwhile, the impact of the Lyons family lives on at McMaster. This November, it was announced that the black box theatre in L.R. Wilson will be called the Lyons Family Studio. The name recognizes a generous gift from the estate of Margaret and Ed Lyons, which will create an endowed fund to support the theatre space as well as fund the new Margaret and Ed Lyons Scholarship, which will be available for undergraduate humanities or social sciences students involved in the performing arts at McMaster.