Jeff Douglas is working longer hours these days, but he’s thrilled to be back in his native Nova Scotia.
Douglas, 47, grew up in Truro and gained notoriety as front man for the Molson “I am Canadian" ad campaign. Recently, he stepped down from his role as co-host of CBC-Radio's As It Happens to become the new host of mainland Nova Scotia’s Mainstreet.
“I’ve been wanting to come home for a long time,” Douglas said. “I would come home in the summer and wish I could stay. I enjoyed Toronto, but my energy was not in sync with the city’s energy anymore.”
Douglas became a host on As It Happens, his first radio job, in 2010.
“I spent the first year getting used to the fact that I was on CBC Radio,” he said. “Spending eight and half years with Carol Off was really formative for me. It politicized me, but not in a partisan way. I became a lot more aware of what’s going on in the world and of the need to speak for those who have no power or voice.”
He formed a close bond with Off and found it difficult to say good-bye to her and the show.
“We were comrades, but she often comes to Nova Scotia in the summers, so I’ll see her in a few weeks.”
One of the things Douglas won’t miss about As It Happens is the puns, a regular part of the show.
“I feel liberated from puns,” he said. “I groan about them but some of them were really good. They’re part of the personality of the show.”
Working on As It Happens, he would show up at the studio around 3:45 p.m., go on air at 5:30 and be done by 7. He now has to leave home in the Annapolis Valley around 8:45 a.m. to head to Halifax and he doesn’t leave for home until early evening.
“There was a formula on As It Happens and I was a presenter,” he said. “With Mainstreet, I work with Rob Doublett, Diane Paquette, Alex Mason and the team, and when I go into the booth to start the show things are still being rolled out. I like that vibe. They’re content to let me be me. This is full on and it’s a big lifestyle change but it’s awesome.”
Douglas was in Halifax as the program’s guest host for two weeks in January and enjoyed it immediately, so he was excited when he was told he had the job.
In early June, he and his wife, Ana Maria – who he met in the Splish Splash Laundromat in Toronto – packed up their camper and their dogs for a road trip. Mia, a Staffordshire terrier, and Peanut, a bull terrier-pitbull mix, are both rescued dogs and Douglas said they’re like children for the couple.
They decided to move to Port Williams because Douglas’s sister and mother live in that area.
“Both my wife and I spent 25 years in Toronto and that’s a long time to build a social circle and forge deep friendships so there are things we’ll miss,” he said. “There are a lot of people I grew up with who are still living in Nova Scotia though, and it’s good to reconnect.
“There are also people I haven’t met, but I know, in a way, because we grew up in a similar culture."
Douglas graduated from Dalhousie University with a Bachelor of Science degree in 1993.
“One thing it taught me was, you set a hypothesis, you conduct and experiment to see if what you thought was the case or if it was wrong, and you come out with a net gain because you’ve learned something new. That makes things like a big move easier, because I’ve tried something and if it doesn’t go the way I expected I’ll still learn.”
“It’s really good to be here. I’m eager to talk to Nova Scotians about the things that are important to Nova Scotians.”
Mainstreet airs Monday to Friday, 3-6 p.m.