Pierre Berton: journalist, historian, media personality. Berton was arguably Canada's best-known writer and was particularly well regarded as a serious popularizer of Canadian history. |
Born in 1920 and raised in Yukon Territory, Pierre Berton worked in Klondike mining camps during his university years. He spent four years in the army, rising from private to captain/instructor at the Royal Military College in Kingston. He spent his early newspaper career in Vancouver, where at 21 he was the youngest city editor on any Canadian daily. He moved to Toronto in 1947, and at the age of 31 was named managing editor of Maclean's. In 1957 he became a key member of the CBC's public affairs flagship program, Close-Up, and a permanent panelist on Front Page Challenge. He joined The Toronto Star as associate editor and columnist in 1958, leaving in 1962 to commence The Pierre Berton Show, which ran until 1973. Since then, he has appeared as host and writer on My Country, The Great Debate, Heritage Theatre, and The Secret of My Success. Mr. Berton passed away in Toronto on November 30, 2004.
Two of Mr. Bertonís popular books, The National Dream (1970) and The Last Spike (1972), told the story of the background and construction of Canadaís first transcontinental railway in a colourful and detailed manner. These two works were later adapted as a television series that provided Canadians with a fascinating insight into the early history of the Canadian Pacific Railway and its fundamental role in the development of our nation. Mr. Bertonís dramatic narrative of The Last Spike earned him a third Governor Generalís Award in 1972.
The National Dream and The Last Spike chronicled the beginning of the Canadian railway industry unlike any other narratives. As a result of Mr. Bertonís writing, Canadians learned of the important historical role the CPR provided in early national unity and as a driver of economic growth. This significant contribution to documentation of Canadaís railway history has earned Mr. Berton the Canadian Railway Hall of Fameís "Annual Award of Recognition" in 2002.
In addition to serving as chancellor of Yukon College, receiving numerous honourary degrees and four major literary awards, Mr. Berton was a Companion of the Order of Canada.