I think it's hard to not think about Nikon here.
Nikon has a lot of cameras that have high-eyepoint viewfinders, which are truly a pleasure to use (and the best viewfinders in the industry if you wear glasses). The F3HP comes to mind - very inexpensive these days, and extremely well built. The F4, despite being an autofocus camera, makes a great manual-focus body if you put a focussing screen with focus aids into the camera.
The only real disadvantages to the F3HP are its strange flash shoe (completely non-standard) and its low x-sync (1/80). If this is an issue you will probably strongly prefer the F4.
One great thing about Nikon is that autofocus lenses can be used on manual bodies. The manual focus feel of some is not great (but it's usually livable), but on some (particularly the f/2.8 zooms) it's exceptionally good. I use a few AF lenses on manual cameras frequently and don't mind the focus feel at all.
If the plasticky feel of Canons is really the big issue for you, you might fall in love with the higher-end metal AF bodies in the Nikon line (particularly the F4, F5, F6 and F100).
Mix and match your bits and build a great system. I love my Nikons.