picJuly 31, 2013

Mike Sangster

June 3, 1951 - July 17, 2022

Mike was born in Halifax June 3, 1951, and grew up here, going to Queen Elizabeth High where he came out many times. He was active in sports and has fond memories and stories of the high school wrestling team.

Mike credits Robin Metcalfe with encouraging him into activism in the mid 1970s via David Gray's bar

Mike met Al Stewart at GAE meetings and they became roommates and then partners.

He worked with GAE and politics, but dropped out for a few years. When Rumours moved to Gottingen Street he became involved again as treasurer.

Mike went with Al to St. John’s United Church’s first vigil for HIV, and was active as a boardmember and treasurer of the Canadian Treatment Action Council [for HIV]; on the board and co-chair of GNP North America, a widespread international group spanning the globe; on the board, vice-chair, and Atlantic Representative of the Canadian AIDS Society; volunteer for the AIDS Coalition of Nova Scotia for over 20 years and the chair for many years.

picwith Al, Valentines 2013

On the team organizing the 1988 and 1989 Pride marches, the ones with the paper bags, yes, Mike was one of the ones wearing them. "We were wearing paper bags over our heads to demonstrate that we needed to hide our faces from everyone because we could, at that time, not only lose our jobs but also our housing, our family connections and friendships etc. We had to be secretive and feared persecution from not only the authorities but the population in general.1

He was an enthusiastic member of the Over 30s group in the 1980s and 1990s. He was at the meeting in April, 2010 when we created the Elderberries, and later, a steadfast boardmember. He was active with the GayLine in the ‘80s and ‘90s.

In the mid 1990s, a bunch of young men, Al, Mike and DonMurchy? were talking at Rumours and decided it was time to have a leather contest like other big cities. The first organization was called Leather and Lace and included a couple of lesbians. Later it became TightRope; Al was the first President and Mike was the second. Tightrope did the MAC Leather competition with similar minded folks in New Brunswick, and Mike had a time as a judge. They would go to runs in Toronto (Spearhead), Montreal and Chicago bringing back stories and ideas. Mike won the Spearhead Run competition as the Daddy Leatherman.

A search of the pages in the Halifax Rainbow Encyclopedia which mention Mike reveals much more about his involvement with the community and links to audio clips where he's telling stories.

Mike died suddenly at home on July 17, 2022.

Oral Histories

At Mike's memorial service, we set up a thing that looked just like a telephone and people left messages to Mike and short stories about him. Messages were left by BarendKamperman, BillElliott, CharlieCorkum?, DanielGrimard?, EdgarCleveland?, Marina, RussellFarrell?, Shirley, SuzanneLitke? and WesleyRiley?. Those recordings are here.


These are mostly cut'n'paste comments on the notice of his death from the Turret Memories Facebook group.

DanielMacKay writes: Requiescat in pacem Mike Sangster, close and steadfast friend, bold, fearless leader in the LGBT community.

He was out in the early 1970s, when it was very brave to be. He was there in the first Pride March in 1988. He was there at the creation of MAC Leather and Tightrope, he was there when we created the Elderberries, he was central to the community’s response to AIDS; he was there to help out at every event. Every event. He was enthusiastic about *everything* no matter how oddball, crackpot… or kinky. He was a dear friend and the first person to drop what he was doing to help when needed, and when you had a problem, he’d ask the kind of questions which led you to your own solutions.

RobinMetcalfe: Mike touched with his warm and generous heart, his good humour, his impish sexiness and his actions in support of social justice.

EricSmith: So sorry to hear of Mike's passing. He was an early activist and continued to share his experiences with the younger generation.

David Allen Upham: I remember when he and Al use to come into PineausCafe to eat when I was a cook there.

ChrisAucoin: I first met Michael when I was hired in 1990 by the Gay and Lesbian Association of NS, of which Mike was Board Treasurer. He became a good friend and colleague over the years since. Mike recently re-joined the ACNS board at my encouraging, bringing our professional relationship full circle I guess. He was always a sweet and gentle person - with an easy laugh, and great bear hugs. He's dearly missed.

Alexandra Lynch: Mike was one of the first people I met at ACNS and I sat on the board of directors with him. Always kind and generous, interested in you, and was funny with a big smile.

BobFredrickson: He was so nice and always had such a welcoming, twinkling smile.

MaryAnnDaye: I was on the board with Mike back in the day too. He was a nice man and a great volunteer to our community over the years.

ShijuMatthew?: He was one if the first people I met after arriving in Halifax. He always had a smile on his face.


1. July 10, 2016 Pers Corr.