Stuart (Alexander) Jolliffe, GM at Marriott Hotels, who helped nurture a strong music industry inside Nova Scotia, as well as aiding many musicians on the road, died April 11 in Toronto. The cause of death is given as a heart attack in his sleep. He was 55.
His family asks those willing making a contribution to the Unison Benevolent Fund in his name.
“Since Wednesday evening, when I got the news that my best friend, Stuart Jolliffe had unexpectedly died in Toronto, I've been numb. I've cried wracking sobs, then suddenly collected myself because my emotions have no recognized path to follow. I've had friends - really good friends, roommates - die, and it sucked out loud, but nothing in my vast experience has prepared me for Stu's sudden departure from my life.
“I expect that the short answer as to why is that it's because I've never known anyone quite like him.
“For context, I was an air force brat; I moved pretty much every two years of my life. That meant changing cities, school systems, friends, geography (literally coast to coast and everywhere between), regularly. I wasn't a dweeb but I was always "the new kid," I was small for my age and shy but I always, eventually, made fast friends wherever I went.
“And I was one of those people that kept in touch, even if others didn't. No internet in those days. No cell phones. Hell, if I wanted to call someone I'd left behind on the other side of the country, I'd have to save my allowance for a station to station phone call. I know, that was a long time ago, but it was the reality. I happily spent my allowance on those calls, and that's why I have a network of friends that go back to my elementary school days on Vancouver Island. I earned my friends, and I cherish them above everything else in my life.
“That's all to say that I'm outrageously blessed with a group of people I'd trust my life with. So, when I say Stu was my BEST friend, he's in fantastic company and all my other best friends - who knew him, and many of them did - wouldn't even argue the point. They know. Stu was a special friend...
“He almost literally dropped into my life from the sky. He'd been in town a couple of months after moving here from Toronto to take the GM job at the Deltas Halifax and Barrington. The night I met him he wound up on my couch after a night of listening to music, and I needed to lend him $20 to get back to Bedford in the morning because he had no cash on him. That was almost 20 years ago.
“Since then, that first meeting grew naturally - initially based on our mutual love of music - into a friendship that evolved into something more profound than any other relationship, male or female, I've ever had.
“His real job was a serious one - he wore a suit and was very particular about his shoes - but he was great at it while still being cool enough to not be a "suit." He loved going to see live music, and after I started introducing him to the artists I knew, he fit into my world as easily as he navigated the one that paid his well-earned salary. He fit the East Coast like a glove that was made for him.
“He spent his "spare time" indulging his hobby and joined the board of Music Nova Scotia and was instrumental (get it?) in taking that organization from a well-intentioned but Mickey Mouse operation to what most people would consider the best provincial music association in Canada. He certainly didn't do it on his own, but everyone will agree that he was the catalyst for the transformation.
“He worked with Tourism NS, the restaurant association, the city's special events committee. He was one of the folks who fought to bring the Juno Awards to the city (he was co-chair of the event). In his capacity at Delta Hotels, he sponsored many events including Music Nova Scotia's Tiki Stage at Canada Music Week (that has helped to launch careers of a lot of our NS artists) as well as annual stakes in the East Coast Music Awards.
“He landed on Habitat for Humanity as an official recipient of his company's charitable outreach and made it all about music, enlisting the "A" team of Canadian artists to perform each and every year. Phenomenal artists each time and all of them appreciative of the cause but they did it because Stu asked, make no mistake about that.
“Why did they do it? Because, behind the scenes, with zero fanfare, he was quietly helping the artists he loved with discounted hotel rooms across the country when they toured and so much more. Stu would go their shows (and pay the cover or buy tickets), make a point of saying hello and encouraging them. If you want to know more about that, just ask an artist you know, chances are they have a story about how Stuart helped them, and you'd have to ask the musicians because, chances are, Stu never talked about it.
“Over the years, as I transitioned out of television and into event production, artist management and eventually to opening The Carleton, Stuart helped me immeasurably. He also had no problem telling me I was full of shit when he felt I was doing something stupid (that happened a lot). He was a voice of reason, and though he was younger than I, it felt like he was an older brother. He was responsible without being staid or an asshole...
“Before he left for Toronto - a move I spent a great deal of time trying to talk him out of because I'm selfish - we literally spent every Friday night for the better part of 18 months sitting in my Tiki garage/office quietly solving the world's problems (or mine, or his). Sometimes it was just the two of us; sometimes others would join. Either way, it was a great hang, and I miss those.
“Over the past five years - before and after the Toronto move - we had the privilege of travelling to Austin TX for the SXSW music festival and this year was no exception. Ten days of hanging out with great friends and going to see amazing bands whenever we felt like it. Stu, as usual, was the bright light of the party; moving effortlessly between talking to musicians, artists, locals, business people and weirdos with the same ease, making everyone he met feel comfortable and able to converse with all of them on any topic they cared to bring up.
“No one who ever met him, as far as I can tell, had a shitty thing to say about him. He was one of a kind, and that's where the trouble is. The man is irreplaceable. Period.
“The outpouring of love I've witnessed since we learned Stu died doesn't surprise me in the least, and it's helped me to deal with it personally. Thank you to everyone who's checked in to see how I'm doing and shared Stu stories with me. It's helping to keep me sane while I try to make sense of an event that makes no sense.
“The pain will dull, as all of us who've sadly experienced things like this before know, but somehow this one is different. I will forever honour my best-friendship with Stu by trying to be more like him. More tolerant, more patient, more caring, more aware and, above all else, more loving.”
From the ECMA’s Facebook page on Friday the 13th:
The East Coast Music Association is deeply saddened by the sudden death yesterday of Stuart Jolliffe. Stuart was considered a giant in the music industry and his many contributions are being remembered today throughout Nova Scotia and the country as a whole. While a celebrated hotelier by trade, Stuart’s involvement in the east coast music scene has been invaluable and well documented. His leadership and vision were attributes that contributed to successful Juno Awards, ECMAs, Nova Scotia Music Weeks and countless benefits, festivals, conferences and events where he tirelessly volunteered his time.
Tributes are raining in from musicians and industry professionals alike to offer condolences to his family and share personal stories of how Stuart affected their lives and careers in such a deep and meaningful way. We are sad that Stuart will not be able to join us at our upcoming conference but we look forward to remembering and honouring his legacy at an event he held close to his heart.
There will be a few different gatherings over the next few weeks in a few different cities. Stuart extended his awesomeness everywhere he went and touched so many of us. Let’s gather and celebrate Stu.
For those of you who cannot attend any of these gatherings, please know that your love is felt and our love is going out to you. To all of you, if you have photos, videos or stories of Stuart that you would like to share, please send them to email@example.com
Saturday, April 21
3 – 7pm
Baxter Creek Golf Course
Stuart grew up in this part of Ontario, near Peterborough. He and Nancy moved there last year when Stuart took the top job at Toronto’s Westin Harbour Castle hotel. Nancy’s family and Stuart’s sister are all in this area. Family and friends will be gathering to celebrate. There will be music, drinks and refreshments.
Please rsvp: rememberingstuart@gmail.
For those coming from Toronto:
Jeff and Tara Cohen have generously chartered a bus to take people to this gathering from Toronto. The bus will be leaving The Horseshoe Tavern at 1:30pm sharp on Saturday and will return to Toronto after the service. Horseshoe drop off.
Please rsvp to reserve a spot on the bus: amanda@collectiveconcerts
Sunday, April 22
6pm to close
The Horseshoe Tavern
Stu loved live music. Some of his favourite musicians are coming together to play some of Stu’s favourite tunes and tell stories at the Horseshoe, one of Stu’s favourite bars. This will be a private thing for the first few hours so we can get you all in, and be together. We’ll be taking donations at the door that will go to Stuart’s wife Nancy to help cover expenses. Come early for the Stu vibes.
This show is not going to be announced.
Please rsvp: amanda@collectiveconcert
Tuesday, May 1
4 – 7pm
The Baronet Room
Delta Halifax, 1990 Barrington Street
Halifax would not be the same were it not for Stu living there for 16 years. He raised his children there. He was a kickass boss at The Delta. He was immensely respected and admired in the community, raising hundreds of thousands of dollars for charities such as Habitat for Humanity. He helped countless musicians advance their careers.
He was basically the best mayor Halifax never had.
We’ll be celebrating Stu in Halifax up on the top floor of The Delta Halifax, where he used to host the awesome annual event ‘Raise A Little HELLP’. Family, friends, colleagues are all welcome. There will be music, drinks and refreshments.
We all know this is an extremely busy time. We’re going into ECMAs and CMW. It’s crazytown. But we all need to come together to be with each other and feel the love that Stu had for all of us, and us for him. Stuart poured a lot of his time and passion into ECMAs and our music scene in general, this will be a great time to honour him.
Please rsvp: rememberingstuart@gmail.
Thursday, May 3
8 – 10pm
30th East Coast Music Awards Gala
Scotiabank Centre, Halifax
There will be a short, special tribute to Stuart at the East Coast Music Awards Gala.
For those of you who want to attend the show, you can get tickets at www.ecma.com
Email firstname.lastname@example.org for VIP table.
If you cannot make the show, you can stream it live at www.ecma.com.
The show starts at 8pm AST.
When RSVPing, please indicate which event(s) you will be attending, thank you.