Monday, June 14, 2010

Marc Horton's story

A newspaperman says goodbye: Journal Books editor Marc Horton writes '30' to a career that spanned 37 years and a lifetime of stories
Edmonton Journal
Fri May 26 2006
Page: A2
Section: News
Byline: Alan Kellogg
Column: Alan Kellogg
Source: The Edmonton Journal

Monday will be a historic day for lovers of Edmontonia, and it will have almost nothing to do with the Oilers.

For the first time since July 15, 1969, Marc Horton won't be working at the Edmonton Journal, filing another story -- clean, on deadline, to the point. It's a loss for the paper, for the city he loves so well. It will never seem quite the same around here. They always say that. But this one is real.

Don't break out a case of Costco Kleenex boxes. It was his decision to retire, still disgustingly healthy in his 50s. He wasn't even nudged by management, never mind pushed. Far from it.

And as of this weekend, he, wife Miriam Trottier and No. 2 son Chris will be celebrating the first days of the rest of his life from a suite at Quebec City's venerable Chateau Frontenac. Any lingering doubts -- he expresses absolutely none -- will be quickly washed away with the odd flagon of Maudite ale or an unprepossessing Malbec. For Marc, walking the cobbled streets of Vieux-Quebec is a practised raconteur's Disneyland, the real deal. Canadian history, French spoken everywhere, musette and playoff hockey drifting from cafe windows. Bookstores on every corner and a different cream sauce for every day on the Julian calendar fit perfectly in the Horton cosmology.

Newspapering is genetic in this case. Grandfather Leslie Horton owned and operated the Vegreville Observer for years, and Marc's father Ted Horton's legendary News of the North was a Yellowknife institution. Marc literally learned the fundamentals of the biz from the ground up, operating the Linotype machine as a young teen, filing northern stories to the CBC and elsewhere when most kids his age were delivering newspapers, not editing them.

He began full time at The Journal a few weeks after graduating from the University of Alberta. Six days later, astronaut Neil Armstrong delivered his "one giant leap for mankind" speech from the Sea of Tranquility. That year was anything but peaceful back on Earth, as tectonic plates creaked, generational change beckoned. Edmonton wasn't immune, but there was a certain time delay. The culture at The Journal was still resolutely male and macho, as Marc recalled the other day.

"I made $80 bucks a week, and that wasn't so bad at a time when you could rent a decent apartment for $75 a month. The newsroom scene was out of the movie The Front Page, guys chewing on cigars, tough guys talking tough."

As he might be prepared to admit at certain times, there is still a measure of that to the man today, leavened by a big heart and a determination to live in the moment.

Over the years, he covered the waterfront for the paper, moving as a reporter and manager from hard news to sports, movies and lately, as books editor -- the best in our history.

Like the rest of us at the shop, he wonders about the future of newspapering. It's been his life. He's got mixed feelings.

"Newspapers make money, lots of it, and aren't going away any time soon. I don't feel uncomfortable advising anyone young to get into the business. There is still room for eccentrics and being idiosyncratic isn't necessarily discouraged and sometimes it's actually encouraged, protected. But I'm not sure things are moving in the right direction. Everywhere, newspapers are owned by big corporations that bleed them dry and have no conception of what newspapers are all about. There's nothing more depressing than empty chairs in a newsroom, and there are plenty of them around anywhere you look."

It was entirely appropriate that Marc co-authored the splendid Edmonton centennial book Voice of a City. As long as I've known him, he's never confused mindless boosterism with a profound appreciation of the city he was born in.

"I love this town. I've been to a lot of other places and never found somewhere more comfortable, with its ease of living. We don't have the pretensions of Calgary or the arrogance of Vancouver, not to mention the woebegone nature of Winnipeg. And yet it's a vibrant place, particularly in the arts and getting more so, hard-earned. It's a blue-collar town, and I like that, too, with little of the corporate mentality of Toronto or Calgary. But there is a cautionary tale there, too, since we've had it all before and lost it."

He's planning a couple of other books now, a good thing.

Nor has he ever ceded one centimetre in railing (!) against the notion that being a loyal and true Albertan is the exclusive turf of conservatives, small or large "C."

"I'm a left-wing guy, always have been. You don't have to sell life insurance to be 'normal,' and The Journal isn't Pravda. One of the satisfying things about the paper has been the freedom we've been afforded. You go out of town and it's not like that in many places."

Any measure of a career well-served involves minds moved, lives touched. Journal columnist Todd Babiak is a longtime fan.

"Growing up in Leduc and later, especially in university, Marc's movie reviews were the talk of the town. Arguing in absentia either in favour or against one became a point of pride in my circles. Doing movies for the Gateway, you'd see him walk into a theatre and we were star-struck, whispering: that's Marc Horton. He brought a lot of young readers to the paper, no doubt about it."

On the subject of his departure, the man himself provides an anecdote. As he knows far better than most, every story needs a closer.

"We were walking through the National Portrait Gallery in London, passing images of Lennox Lewis, Muhammad Ali, Martin Scorsese, John Mortimer, Oliver Stone. And it occurred to me that I had interviewed all of them. This fat guy who grew up in Yellowknife. How sweet is that?"

Sweet for us all. For this one, he's not only taught me a lot about professionalism in our calling and never losing sight of the reader coming first, but on the value of friendship, family, heart and never forgetting those less fortunate. I love the guy, and while you accept his decision, I'm not crazy about it. He's an original, and they don't come often in life, or at work, or in the course of any city.

Alan Kellogg says goodbye to James Adams

Departure leaves a void
The Edmonton Journal
Sun Apr 9 1989
Page: F8
Section: Entertainment

Is there anything more irritating than an aging media hack who uses his/her forum to endlessly chronicle the passage of an old crony?


Tuesday, our friend and colleague James Adams jumps into his new Japanese car, points it towards Yorkton, (first stop: the original Holiday Inn, not affiliated with the latecomer U.S. chain of the same name) en route to scenic, springtime Toronto.

As you may have read, Jim has ended a 12-year stint with this humble rag in favor of a new career in publishing, as senior paperback editor at McClelland and Stewart. By this reading, the parties will have been finished, the gifts given, the Lampoon-style books section duly presented, the boxes off to storage. It's not a process humans on either side of the leaving like much -- especially someone like Jim, not necessarily comfortable under the relative glare of the Kliegs, not given to public demonstrations of emotion, notwithstanding the internal sturm und drang.

All of this is our business here, to be sure. In our own way, his friends will notice the impact of Jim's departure in silly, everyday events -- a magazine piece only he would get the complete joke on that you can't share any more, a new wirephoto of Jerry Garcia arriving, another bone-headed move by George Bush, Ernie Isley or Julian Kinisky that he'd (literally) slap his head about -- whatever.

But seeing the arts-cultural community (call it what you will) lose another bright light has wider implications. Unlike many in our business who make a public show of civic interest while desperately trying to get out, Jim genuinely digs this town, as he might put it after a Black Label or two. And, although his career at The Journal, like any other job, has had its share of disappointments, he leaves this place of his own volition with little animus, grateful for the opportunities he's been given. As he says in public and privately, after 14 years in journalism and 12 in these halls, he simply wanted a change. The offer was reasonable and intriguing.

The direct losses are apparent: the Alberta literary scene loses an enthusiatic, diligent supporter, as does the jazz-pop music milieu. The Journal records a loss of one of its best writers, with a voice and clear perspective that cannot be replaced. And yup, those of us who have watched him devour a lunch of liver n' onions with a chocolate shake at the Silk Hat lose daily contact with a friend you could confide in, a guy who could make you laugh, consider, re-assess.

For me, Jim, a westerner in every true sense of the word, helped to reinforce the fact that the stereotypical Albertan was just that -- a cartoon. This is our place too, and to keep in touch with the world, to harbor progressive political views, to remain true to time-honored principles and er, to dress in natural fibres, was absolutely normal, desirable. That for all our foibles, Edmonton had little to apologize about to any other city in Canada.

I laugh to think about the fuss he'll cause in his own understated way down at M&S, a fine publishing house but a literal cell of central Canadian thinking. Expecting to find another westerner truly honored to bask in the rays of the Power Source, darn lucky to be out of the cultural dung-hole they came from, Jim's new colleagues will discover their own burg's many shiny spots exposed with a wry one-liner or two. And their own misperceptions about this place carefully pointed out.

We couldn't have a better ambassador, but it remains in the red column, a loss. This city will never be quite the same any more, and I must say the old yardstick of leaving a place better than you found it comes to mind. Adios, amigo.

That's a wrap! Barry Westgate's career

The Edmonton Journal
Sun Oct 25 1992
Page: B1
Byline: BARRY WESTGATE Journal Staff Writer

So, here we are, finally. After more than 30 years, this Edmonton Journal career is a wrap. As they say in the movie business I covered for so many of those years - it's a take. "Cut and print!"

Thirty years! Who'd have thought.

Certainly not me, back on that first day, Feb. 12, 1962.

Then, the new job meant only one thing. It had to last until I could get a "foothold" in Canada - and could stop worrying about perhaps having to prematurely pack up and go back to New Zealand.

The $65 a week I would be making as a reporter would . . . well, what did I need, six months? At the time - being so palpably "new" in the new land - it seemed like a lot to hope for.

Now it is almost 31 years on. I guess everything turned out for the best, after all - in the long run.

In three decades of several different kinds of Edmonton Journals, under six publishers and a variety of senior editors, through a long list of varied responsibilities, in three buildings and with some incredible changes in technology, perseverance is probably the best word for it.

But now it's time to go.

For people in this business they love, knowing that is not always the easy part.


When I started at The Journal, milk was still being delivered door-to-door by horse-drawn cart. There was one nightclub and no entertainment allowed in taverns and lounges. There were only two amateur theatre companies. The city had just one pizza joint.

There were no Sunday movies or shopping, or sport or entertainment that could be charged for. The first high-rise apartment block had just been completed and stood alone on 110th Street, north of the High Level Bridge.

It was still some time before the boom that, when it began in earnest, would cause the comprehensive metamorphosis of a city to run rampant, through the '70s and on into the '80s - until Edmonton was transformed into a vastly different place.

From covering Theatre For Children Saturday mornings at Victoria Composite High School, to six seasons on Broadway and one in (London's) West End, it's been quite a ride. From sitting in on a city's "growing up" to mingling with movie stars at world premieres, writing about the Edmonton Eskimos or listening to Muhammad Ali's special inner thoughts, it has been very special.

I was there, right there, when Joe Shoctor decided there would be a Citadel Theatre.

Likewise, pen in hand, I was listening when artist Len Gibbs talked about taking the plunge and quitting an ad agency career to pursue the risky dream of becoming a full-time artist; when Buddy Victor and Al Osten introduced something new called Weight Watchers to Alberta; when Mel Hurtig stopped being a bookseller in his unpretentious little Jasper Avenue store and started out on bigger things to do with the conscience of a country.

"Thanks again, Barry," Gibbs would write, a while after becoming established as one of the outstanding Canadians in his field. "You know, if it weren't for guys like you, I don't think I would have been able to make it as a full-time artist."

Somewhere along the way there also was a note signed by Frank Sinatra, thanking me for a review. At least Frank wasn't threatening my kneecaps - which is something Johnny Wayne of Wayne and Shuster seemed to have in mind during our celebrated countrywide tiff years ago.

In that vein, country singer Hank Snow once sent a telegram promising to shoot me the next time he came to town. We later made up. Not so the hundreds of hurt teens and teenies who inundated this newspaper with letters of outrage after I had made one of my more "celebrated" critical announcements in a column of the time.

The Beatles, I had written, along with repeated put-downs of that whole musical syndrome, were no more than a "passing fad."

"If I was your kid I'd run away before I was 10," wrote one youngster, unhappily. "Just thought I'd let you know how much I hate you."

On a more down-to-earth front, as Social Credit attitudes and politics were going out of vogue, we were right in the fight for more liberal liquor licensing laws, for freedom of choice on Sundays, for a more realistic approach to film censorship.

We sat in at Tita's, the long-gone restaurant operated by Rudy Tosta and Sal Acampore, when Topless made its debut in Edmonton. When the acclaimed film A Clockwork Orange was banned in Alberta - an act of myopia that might have been the straw that finally broke the back of archaic attitudes toward censorship - it was off to Vancouver to write about a legitimate film work in which outmoded government interference was preposterous.

I wrote on, through the years, as an entire downtown was transformed into steel, concrete and glass. Stood by, in fact, barely raising a murmur in print, as historical gems whose loss we now loudly lament fell to progress's wrecking ball.

On the other hand, positives in reporting sprang from the initial window of opportunity here for major-league hockey, when Bill Hunter spoke for the World Hockey Association.

"It's the biggest thing to hit the sports scene in 1,000 years," Hunter told us back in 1972. "The kind of people who believe World Hockey won't go are the same people who believe the world is flat."

That was Bill. They don't make 'em like that, anymore.

Amongst the daily doses of tip and conjecture - back in the days when every facet of city life wasn't covered as closely by the media as it is today and you could get a "scoop" or two - there was a comment in 1973 about a "Strathcona historical group" seeking money from city council and approval in principle for "preserving the character of the Strathcona area."

When only $4,000 was forthcoming, a spokesperson was moved to comment, "If no major funding is in sight, then to heck with them."

Obviously, clearer and more determined heads eventually prevailed in Old Strathcona.

Out in the wider world of entertainment for so many years there were many special moments - far too many to dwell upon here.

But in 15 years of reviewing and writing about movies, getting to rub shoulders with childhood cinema hero John Wayne in the historic Roosevelt Hotel on Hollywood Boulevard is something to single out.

Though it wasn't exactly "rubbing shoulders." The Duke was big. Tall, wide, thick, hands like . . .

Well, he was just BIG, that's all!

Then there was a memorable dinner in the storied Rainbow Room at Rockefeller Centre, right after the world premiere of My Fair Lady, with Rex Harrison in the next seat and Audrey Hepburn across the table.

Speaking of childhood favorites brought to real life, there was a rare interview with Moe, Larry and Curly, the Three Stooges. And, as precious to me, some wonderful dialogue from Bill Kenny, the original signature alto of The Inkspots.

That was at the Kingsway Inn, back in the '60s, when manager Jim Gregg was one of the first people in the city trying to make it in the very early days of better lounge-dining room licensing regulations.

Of the group of gracious big-name personalities encountered along the way, a couple of names come particularly to mind - Muhammad Ali, who in private moments was an intriguing antithesis of his bombastic "`public" persona, and opera superstar Beverly Sills.

Ah, yes. Beverly Sills.

Dinner in a small spaghetti house on West 58th with Sills and various members of her family, prior to her coming here to sing Lucia Di Lammermoor with the Edmonton Opera Association, was a memorable experience.

At Venus Continental, after "convincing" nine-year-old daughter Muffy that she couldn't have a hamburger in a pasta joint, and showing off the holes in the knees of her panty hose from "flopping down all day" at rehearsals for a production of Lucia, Sills the prima donna was actually Sills the real person, warm and friendly.

"Nine times I auditioned for the New York City Opera," the new superstar had said, finally having negotiated a long and frustrating road. "I don't get discouraged. The chip on my shoulder just got bigger and bigger."

About an invitation from opera lover Burt Lancaster to do a filmed version of Manon:

"He said they'd photograph me through a gauze screen. I figured maybe they should use heavy bandages."

That's Beverly Sills. Warm, down-to-earth, real. Very, very special.

Also worth recalling are sharp quotes from three satisfying interviews from the racially and integration-conscious '60s.

From Harry Belafonte, the first time he was in Edmonton:

"Individuals might have pointed the guns at Dr. King and Bobby Kennedy, but 200 million Americans pulled the trigger.

Prejudice is the culture and makeup of man.

"The great American triumph in anything is its muscle, its power, its capacity for violence.

"We are always flexing our muscles. The national psychology has never been able to understand that it has to find other solutions."

From folk singer Miriam Makeba, her South African passport at the time confiscated:

"When I sing `Where shall I go?' I mean it. Where indeed? I can't go home. They won't let me. And home hasn't been so kind to members of my race.

"Wouldn't it be nice, just once to be able to catch a plane and go home; without having to be told what to do, where to sit and eat, who to talk to.

"I don't expect it will ever come to this - not in my lifetime, anyway."

From David Baldwin, the actor brother of James, here for a Citadel production of In White America:

"When a child comes out of school at the age of 17 and cannot read or write something is definitely wrong. I was taught to despise myself.

"I was called Little Black Sambo and told that I climbed trees. I was taught a whole lot of dirty things, and I'll never get it out of my system. The destroying starts from childhood."

There are other quotes, if not quite of the same import.

"It's letting the people know that the kid is grown up and not wearing white shoes anymore," Paul Anka told me in 1967, of his comeback tour in Canada.

"We got nothin' else to do," an old and tired Louis Armstrong said, about just going on and on.

"Now what girl would live with 114 people," impressionist Rich Little quipped, about his bachelor status, while we rode in from the airport one day.

From 74-year-old Jack Benny, one long-ago Klondike Days, after borrowing my pen to sign an autograph for a seven-year-old: "This kid has followed me around for years and years and years."

For a clash of city hall "titans," we were there - a year or so ago, now - when Bill McLean described fellow alderman Ed Leger, long a self-appointed watchdog for untoward practices, as "a frustrated kind of Sam Ervin looking for a Watergate."

Always quotable, even in later years - when he was desperately trying to hang on as the last of a breed passed over and given up on by this helter-skelter-for-profit town - was promoter Nick Zubray.

"Listen, I was on the square," Nick had said, not long before he died, referring to a much earlier plan he had had to establish the first local nudist colony.

"You come into this world naked, you gotta go out naked."

And so he did - left out and disappointed, passed over and sadly alone.

When ace morning man Bob Bradburn left CJCA to switch to the fledgling CHQT, CJCA's program director Harry Boon hastened to pick up the telephone to inform me, assuredly, "He's making a big mistake."

Some mistake. Bradburn will have been at CHQT 20 years this coming February.

It wasn't "work," not at all, to talk to all of these people and so many more; or to be on the scene for many of the happenings and decisions that have shaped the city of today.

It wasn't work to interview Tim Finn of Split Enz, he being a fellow expatriate from the same small New Zealand town (pop. 5,300), and just a tot in short pants when I left for Canada; or to wade through many drinks one very long night in the old Shasta lounge with Nick Reynolds, Bob Shane and John Stewart of the Kingston Trio, as we celebrated the birth of Stewart's first child.

What am I going to miss? Not much. No. It is time.

"Thrilled to see Westgate back in his regular spot, right where he belongs," someone kindly wrote, when the city column resumed in 1989, after I had spent many years "in from the cold" in various supervisory roles, particularly sports editor and news editor.

That was nice, but it was a different around-the-town beat I came back to.

For one thing - be it sports, business, entertainment, whatever - the incredible "winning streak" this city has been on for so many years now, had taken a lot of the "fun" and "spontaneity" out of most things.

And certainly changed the way things are done.

There were few "colorful characters" left on the streets; no downtown storefronts at which to chat with familiar faces.

None of the old bistros and restaurants remained, those that had been the daily forums for "business," both political and corporate.

These days, the wheeling and dealing, the "moving and shaking" - so to speak - is mostly hidden away, up there somewhere behind impassive glass and concrete.

Some things don't change, though.

After a column a year ago critical of the Osmond Boys at the Klondike Days exhibition grounds, a petition of complaint arrived from Calgary signed by 429 youngsters.

And there is still the fan mail.

"I seldom read your column because I have difficulty deciding whether it represents the ramblings of a fool who has occasional wise insights, or the musings of a wise man who occasionally babbles foolishly," advised one letter, a little while ago.

"I would ignore you except you have a public voice."

Not any more. Not after today.

It's time to go; time to climb off a roller-coaster ride that has been a pleasure, thank you - and often a whole lot of laughs, too.

Someone else from the negative side of the ledger once wrote that "too often the writing reflects the inadequacies of the writer." This with the admonishment to my bosses that it was time for a change, that "much would be gained by striking out afresh in this field."

That was in 1964.

Well OK, I agree. Finally, I do.

Obit for Barry Westgate

Former Journal columnist Barry Westgate, dead at 65: 'Colourful' writer worked at the paper for 31 years
Edmonton Journal
Tue Jun 11 2002
Page: B3
Section: City
Byline: Mark Spector, Journal Staff Writer
Dateline: Edmonton
Source: The Edmonton Journal

Barry Westgate's exterior could be as prickly as the trademark brush cut he favoured.

But for those who knew him well, he could be as warm as his favourite pair of knee-high socks.

Westgate died Monday, making hearts heavy at The Journal, where he worked for 31 years.

"As crusty an old fart as he was, Barry had a very good heart," said the National Post sports columnist Cam Cole, whose first columnist job came at The Journal in the 1980s under Westgate.

"For as much rabble as he roused at The Journal, I don't think there were too many people there who were more loved by one and all when he left.

"He didn't put up with any guff," recalled Cole, "but he always gave you an honest answer."

At the age of 65, Westgate succumbed to cancer at a hospital in Vancouver, where he lived in retirement with his wife Edelayne.

He reached his pinnacle as a city columnist in the '70s, penning columns that came with a strong opinion. Whether or not it was one shared by the reader, well, Westgate never lost much sleep over that.

"He was a colourful individual who loved the newspaper business and had a passion for writing," said Journal publisher Linda Hughes.

"He always had strong opinions, but as a columnist his main concern was the writing itself, and he often spent hours writing and re-writing his columns, trying to perfect his work."

As a section editor, Westgate was both a fierce protector and valuable mentor for the writers who matched his thirst for the trade.

Reporters who may have been scooped on a story seldom received a verbal admonishment from Westgate. Instead, they would find the competitor's clipping on their desk, with a hand written remark from Westgate: "Hmmmm...?"

"If you made a mistake," said Journal hockey writer Joanne Ireland, "he'd say, 'You did screw up, but there's another newspaper tomorrow.' "

Born on April 19, 1937, in Te Awamutu, New Zealand, Westgate is survived by three younger brothers and a younger sister. All reside in New Zealand.

He came to Canada at age 23, quickly landing a job at The Journal covering the arts and entertainment scene. He didn't waste any time in making an impression.

"He was young. There was controversy," said sister-in-law Val Brandt. "Edmonton wasn't used to having someone who would condemn a show. The Edmonton Opera, the Citadel -- people back then thought if someone brought a show to town we should at least be polite to them and give it a nice review."

Westgate covered everyone from Johnny Cash to Beverley Sills on the entertainment beat in the '60s and '70s.

It was about that time that Westgate stepped on to an elevator to find a fair young ballet dancer named Edelayne, who would become his wife. They had no children. "They were engaged on their second date," Brandt said, "but they decided they shouldn't tell people for three more weeks. It would be too fast."

Westgate was a runner who went through his routine some 14 years without missing a day. On a flight back to New Zealand he even jogging the Los Angeles airport parking lot because he didn't want to break his streak. He also fancied harness horses as a bettor and an owner over the years.

There's no funeral planned.

Keen at Kittiwake

Journalist who dogged the fat cats finds peace at Kittiwake
The Edmonton Journal
Tue May 10 1994
Page: B1

Eddie Keen is the hero of Alberta's outsiders. Eddie is also the greatest Alberta journalist from the generation born during the Depression.

He was one of my childhood heroes. I grew up listening to CHED, as did every kid in the Edmonton area in the '70s. There was no MuchMusic; CHED was it if you wanted to hear Top 40 hits.

The station had a strange mix. Along with Trooper and Peter Frampton, it offered up deejay Wes Montgomery's stories about carousing with Tom Wilkinson, and, four times a day, Eddie Keen.

Eddie was never a friend of the Kleins and Pocklingtons. He stood up for people on welfare, not the upper class. He resisted the urge to become respectable. He cared only about the opinion of his wife Shirley and his own ideals.

Eddie is 61 now. If he hadn't made a habit of kicking the establishment's butt, he'd likely still be working in the media. But Eddie gave his last editorial on CHED radio three years ago. He wrote his last newspaper column for the Edmonton Sun in December. He says his days were numbered at the tabloid after he compared the Klein government's policies to Bosnia, calling them "economic cleansing."

"Of course, The Sun is the premier and the Reform party's chief cheerleaders," he says. "What I was doing wasn't going down well, so I was sent on my way for political incorrectness from The Sun's perspective."

Eddie lives northeast of Edmonton at Kittiwake, his farm near Smoky Lake. He and Shirley are working hard to turn Kittiwake into a bed and breakfast retreat for artists, writers, academics and anyone else looking for peace.

"I don't even think about the city," he says. "Isn't that strange?

"I get the papers every day. I used to devour them and I'm sort of now saying, `What the hell is the relevance to my life up here?' "

Eddie is returning to his rural Alberta roots. He was a St. Paul boy who dreamed of being a Mountie, a railway engineer, a doctor, a lawyer and a priest. As a high-school student, he started up a campaign to rid St. Paul of "smut" - not Playboy, but Sun Bathing Annual.

He was a Catholic convert. As a young man, he spent time at a monastery. Later in his career, he would be derided for having a missionary complex. He doesn't mind. "I don't think there is anything wrong with being a missionary for good."

He worked for The Journal from 1953-70. He started as a hot-shot cop reporter. He roared around the city in a red Volkswagen with a police radio. He would sometimes get to a crime scene before the police arrived. He wore a trench coat and carried a starter's pistol for show.

Eddie became a court and legislature reporter, then city editor. He says he wasn't a good editor - too impatient, no taste for administration.

He also wondered about the paper's coverage. "I kept thinking that what we were doing was irrelevant, covering press conferences and speeches in the legislature and all this stuff. To me, we were missing something. But I couldn't articulate it and I didn't articulate it until I got on to the radio. And then I knew what was wrong. There are people living in slums and the slum landlords are getting away with it. People are being screwed with the car market and in business and there's political corruption and nobody seems to be talking about it or care."

At CHED, Eddie wrote about bribes in local politics, police beating up people, and car dealer ripoffs. Most of all, he named names. The establishment called him flippant and sensationalistic, but CHED's teenage listeners became Keen zealots. They were enraptured by this rare adult who said what they already knew to be true, that the powerful ran things and the little guy got bashed around a lot.

"I tried to be totally honest on the air and this is what shocked everybody," Eddie says.

When The Sun came to Edmonton, Eddie became its local voice. But his work was always best on the radio.

"I'm not a good writer. I'm a storyteller, but you're not going to find a phrase that echoes through time coming from me. You're going to hear very plain talk.

"You're not Hemingway or somebody on the radio. You're just having a chat with somebody over coffee."

Many journalists suck up to the powers that be. Eddie was one of the few who blasted them and wasn't interested in their side of the story.

"As far as I'm concerned, a slum landlord doesn't have a side of the story," he says.

Once, Eddie was hammering away at a crooked car dealer. He had just got off the air when the phone rang. The sweet little voice of an eight-year-old girl said, "Mr. Keen, I am (the car dealer's) daughter. Is my daddy a crook?"

"Do you love your daddy?" Eddie asked.

"Yes, I do."

"Then you just listen to your daddy and don't pay any attention to Eddie Keen."

Eddie Keen is the answer to anyone who says this province doesn't have a heart.

He was the champion of the outsiders in this province who fought against not only the harsh elements, but also an ornery establishment. He helped people no one else would touch.

Obit for Andy Snaddon

Daughter offers tribute to former Journal editor
The Edmonton Journal
Tue Mar 19 1991
Page: B3
Byline: DAVID STAPLES Journal Staff Writer
Dateline: Edmonton


"Andy Snaddon was a newspaperman through and through."

This fitting epitaph for former Edmonton Journal editor Andrew Snaddon comes from the first line of his daughter Elizabeth's tribute to him.

More than 200 of Snaddon's friends, colleagues and family heard Elizabeth's tribute at a memorial service Monday at St. George's Anglican Church.

"Andy loved the ins and outs of politics and was often called on for his expertise on Western Canada," Elizabeth wrote.

"He never lost the curiosity that is vital to a good reporter.

Snaddon, 69, died Thursday morning at Mewburn Veterans Centre.

His career had spanned five decades, and included a stint as Southam News bureau chief in London, England.

From 1981 to 1986, he was publisher of the Medicine Hat News.

At the memorial service were Mr. Snaddon's wife Jocelyn, daughters Jane and Elizabeth, Alberta's deputy premier Jim Horsman, Southam Newspaper Group president Russ Mills, former Journal writers Art Evans and Don Fleming, Journal publisher Don Babick, former publisher Bill Newbigging, Alberta Appeal Court Justice Jean Cote, and Linda Hughes, who holds the editor's job Mr. Snaddon held at The Journal from 1967-81.

Mr. Snaddon's friends and family were singled out for praise.

In 1986, Mr. Snaddon had a stroke, which put him in a wheelchair.

Even then, he loved to swap stories and argue politics, Elizabeth wrote.

"It was a long haul but he fought his illness every step of the way. Andy was able to do that because of the family and friends who visited, took him on outings, phoned and wrote letters.

"Sometimes people lose their good intentions after the first few months, but Andy had a great number of regular visitors who helped him pass the time and kept his mind active.

"Jocelyn, Jane and Elizabeth and their families would like to thank all of you."

In another tribute, Rev. David Guthrie said Mr. Snaddon was greatly comforted in his illness by his family.

"This was the greatest symbol for Andy of God's love for him," Guthrie said.

To end the service, bagpipe player John Findlay played Amazing Grace.

Obit for Arts Evans

A ready wit is lost with the passing of Art Evans
The Edmonton Journal
Fri May 21 1993
Page: B3
Byline: NICK LEES Journal Staff Writer
Dateline: Edmonton


Art Evans, former longtime Journal columnist and horse-racing enthusiast, was at the track one day when an acquaintance bet the double.

The first horse won, paid a handsome price, and the man keeled over, dead.

A woman came rushing over and asked: "Is he alive?"

Commented Mr. Evans: "Only in the double, madam."

"Art was very quick-witted," said Don (Buckets) Fleming, a fellow racing devotee who joined The Journal the same week in 1948 that Mr. Evans was hired.

Mr. Evans' many friends in Edmonton and Calgary were taken aback to learn of his death this week. He was still active at 73.

"He'd been at the track Saturday and won a couple of longshots," said his son William of Vancouver.

Mr. Evans suffered a heart attack Sunday and died at the University of Alberta Hospitals after suffering another, more massive attack.

"Edmonton has lost a great character, raconteur and friend," said Don Smith, a former Journal managing editor. "Jasper Avenue was his beat and once upon a time he knew practically everyone who walked down it."

Mr. Evans, born in Calgary, was the son of a Welsh locomotive mechanic and took some of his early steps around Canadian National's yards in Calgary.

"Trains were a love that lasted his lifetime," said Fleming. "He'd often take a northbound train across the High Level Bridge and would wait for a southbound locomotive to take him back."

He told few people he tried out for a Canadian Pacific Railway engineer's job in the late '30s.

"He always quipped that he was rejected because his father worked for CN," said his son William. "He loved steam locomotives, not diesel. He said he knew trains so well that he could tell who the engineer was by the way the whistle was blown."

Mr. Evans joined the Calgary Albertan as a reporter in 1946, moved to The Journal in 1948 and on to CFRN in 1953. He returned to the Albertan in 1960, coming back to the The Journal in 1962. He retired in 1984.

Stories of Mr. Evans' wild days are the stuff of legends. Associates say he was fired on three occasions. He always maintained he quit.

In 1953, Gen. George Pearkes, a First World War Victoria Cross, was campaigning for the Conservatives in the federal election when he declared: "The Liberals are leading us down the road to Moscow!"

In walked Mr. Evans, fresh from socializing. "Balderdash," he hollered.

Dolores MacFarlane, who met Mr. Evans in 1948 when she worked for the Edmonton Bulletin, said he stood up and yelled a word closely resembling balderdash during a speech made by former Alberta premier E. C. Manning.

"I think he may have had a drink beforehand," said MacFarlane. "Back then, you always associated Art with wine, women and song."

Historian Tony Cashman recalled that Mr. Evans at one time covered the police beat in Edmonton. "There was a police news conference every morning at 8 a.m. and to be in time, Art sometimes slept on the big desk over there," said Cashman. "He would have been so busy the previous night that he'd decide it wasn't worth going home."

Former assistant Journal editor Stan Williams said: "Evans wrote in a language that people talked. He didn't write above them and he didn't write down to them. And he always wore a fedora."

MacFarlane, who worked for the CBC between 1954 and 1991, said he always had time for young journalists.

He once told her: "Remember the accused in court is a person, just like the police officer and judge."

His friends said he settled down after marrying Una MacLean Evans in 1962. She has been an alderman, citizenship court judge and a federal Liberal candidate.

"When you are married, you have responsibilities," he said a few years ago. "That free-wheeling style is out."

Mr. Evans refused to be overtaken by technology and wrote his humorous columns - for many years they appeared on The Journal's front page - on what he described as "the oldest typewriter in the West."

Business columnist Rod Ziegler said Mr. Evans had an anecdote about everything, but one of his favorites concerned going to the opera with the late Irish-born Jimmy McGuire, a senior CP Air pilot and aviation consultant.

They sat near the front, and Mr. Evans said the soprano was so powerful and talented that she brought tears to McGuire's eyes.

"Art always chuckled when he recalled McGuire turning to him and saying: `Could she ever do a job on Danny Boy'! "

Journal cartoonist Yardley Jones, who collaborated on three books with Mr. Evans, said the columnist accompanied him to New Sarepta when Jones was made honorary mayor.

"When it was time to head back, I looked everywhere for Art and finally found him sitting by himself in the railway station and gazing down the tracks," said Jones.

"He said he didn't want a ride, but would wait for the train. I don't think there was a train. He just wanted to be alone and mull things over."

Mr. Evans is survived by his wife Una, two daughters, Margaret and Sarah, and son William. A memorial service will be held today at 1 p.m. at Robertson-Wesley United Church, 10209 123rd St.
Old friends bid farewell to Arthur Evans; Former columnist's humor and humanity remembered at well-attended funeral

Longtime columnist Art Evans dead at 73
The Edmonton Journal
Wed May 19 1993
Page: B2
Byline: ROLLAND BREMNER Journal Staff Writer
Dateline: Edmonton


If former Journal columnist Art Evans had a trademark, it was his fedora.

He wore it to work, to the race track and almost everywhere else. It was rarely off his head.

But on Tuesday, it was hung up for the last time.

Mr. Evans, 73, died of a massive heart attack at the University of Alberta Hospital.

"It's a shock, and it's sort of devastating," said longtime friend and former colleague Don Smith. "He was a real good buddy, a down-to-earth guy."

He loved horses, trains and ordinary people, said Smith, a former Journal managing editor.

Mr. Evans retired from The Journal in 1984, after a newspaper career that spanned almost 40 years, including more than 30 years with Southam Inc.

His columns were usually about the humorous side of life.

"He liked ordinary people, and he saw the ridiculous things in our lives," said Smith.

His columns appeared on The Journal's front page for years.

Born in Calgary on Dec. 24, 1919, Mr. Evans began his journalism career in 1946 as a reporter with the Calgary Albertan.

Before that, he worked as a railway switchman in Toronto, his first job following his discharge from the Royal Canadian Air Force, with which he served during the Second World War.

He moved to Edmonton in 1948 and joined The Journal as a reporter, then began his own column called Once Over Lightly.

In 1953 he left The Journal for CFRN Radio, but came back to the newspaper business two years later, joining the Calgary Herald, and later the Albertan.

He rejoined The Journal in 1962,where he remained until his retirement.

He is survived by his wife Una MacLean Evans, two sons and a daughter.

The Edmonton Journal
Sat May 22 1993
Page: B3
Byline: STEVE WARBURTON Journal Staff Writer
Dateline: Edmonton


Jasper Avenue Dave, Longshot Ken and Nervous Jerry bid farewell to a friend Friday at the funeral of longtime Journal columnist Arthur Evans.

The three, friends who showed up in Mr. Evans's front-page column, were among the more than 250 people - ordinary and otherwise - who gathered at the Robertson-Wesley United Church to remember the man.

Former premier Don Getty and National Party Leader Mel Hurtig were seated in a crowd which included Mr. Evans' pals from the Northlands track.

Court of Queen's Bench Justice David McDonald, dubbed "Jasper Avenue Dave," paid tribute to Mr. Evans' dry humor.

Citing Mr. Evans' first column in 1962, after a nine-year absence from The Journal, McDonald recalled his unforgettable prose.

"He wrote," McDonald said during the service, `As I was saying in 1953, before I was so rudely interrupted . . .' "

McDonald, who met Mr. Evans through the latter's coverage of the courts as a reporter, complimented his friend for seeing beyond McDonald's role as a judge.

"He gave me an image no one else saw in me," McDonald remembered fondly.

Mr. Evans died Tuesday of a heart attack at age 73.

His son Bill called his dad an eccentric.

"He was a character's character," Bill said during the eulogy.

He recalled how his dad believed the crowd at the Northlands track provided the greatest cross-section of society in a single place.

He added that Mr. Evans' last trip to the race track netted him two winners - both long shots.

"Longshot Ken" White, who earned his name after a 57 to 1 longshot win in the early '60s, said Mr. Evans would be missed.

"It'll be a void at the Northlands," said White, a retired Woodward's maintenance worker.

"Nervous Jerry" Downie, another former Woodward's employee, met Mr. Evans in 1954. "I liked his humor and the way he described the horse players. He never did a hatchet job." said Downie.