LANGAN o@ca.on.york_county.toronto.globe_and_mail 2008-02-15 published
Financial Post editor was the godfather of business journalism in Canada
An economist first and journalist second, he understood early the importance of properly covering Bay Street and financial affairs. He also had an uncanny knack for discovering newsroom talent
By F.F. LANGAN, Special to The Globe and Mail, Page S7
Toronto -- Dalton ROBERTSON was executive editor of The Financial Post back when it was a broadsheet weekly and had enormous influence in the framing of public policy in Canada. He knew his weekly could not compete with The Globe and Mail's daily Report on Business, but using clear writing and solid content, he often scooped the competition.
Every week for more than 20 years, he wrote two front-page columns for the paper. One was an unsigned editorial, called The Nation's Business. The other was the Outlook column, a weekly examination of politics and economics in Canada.
He joined the newspaper in 1955 and, over the course of 32 years, Mr. ROBERTSON became a hugely influential figure in Canadian business journalism.
Dalton ROBERTSON was born in Rhode Island to Canadian parents who returned home soon after his birth. He spent much of his boyhood in Harriston, Ontario, a rural backwater about halfway between Toronto and Lake Huron. Although he came from a distinguished family - one of his grandfathers had been both the mayor of Harriston and a member of Parliament - he grew up relatively poor.
After Harriston High School, he went to the University of Toronto, graduating in 1949. He studied economics at the University of Chicago, although he was never of the Milton Friedman school of thought. Mr. ROBERTSON's politics were capital-L Liberal and he was an admirer of Walter Gordon, who was minister of finance in the Lester Pearson years and a staunch Canadian economic nationalist.
Mr. ROBERTSON worked in the economics and research branch of federal Labour Department for three years. His main achievement there was starting a magazine for the Civil Service Association. His first full-time job in journalism was at Canadian Business magazine, then located in Montreal. He joined the Financial Post two years later, at $500 a year.
He was hired by Ron McEACHREN, a tyrant of an editor who terrified most of his employees. Not Mr. ROBERTSON. They proved to get along well. He learned to mimic Mr. McEACHREN's voice and he liked to telephone reporters and demand they report to the boss's office. The reporters would arrive, shaking in their boots, to find Mr. ROBERTSON waiting outside the door and hugely enjoying his joke.
He took his work seriously, however, and felt passionately about the issues of the day. In 1961, he rose to the defence of James Coyne, the Bank of Canada governor, who was fired by prime minister John Diefenbaker for taking a contradictory attitude to inflation.
"Dalton was firmly against inflation and for the bank's independence," said his friend and colleague Neville NANKIVELL, who was editor of the Financial Post for many years.
During the peak of stagflation in the Pierre Trudeau years, Mr. ROBERTSON chastised the federal Liberals for failing to control inflation. "Restraint, it seems, has been clearly established as all that is needed to cure Canada's persistent twitch towards double-digit inflation," began his editorial of February 7, 1976.
Besides writing editorials, he was sent all over the world to return with essays and long reports on such events as Britain entering the European Community. He was dispatched to Australia to investigate why that country's development was eclipsing Canada's and how that might have shocked Wilfrid Laurier, a prime minister who had famously predicted that the 20th century would belong to Canada.
"The tide of money going into Australian resources - and many other factors as well - suggests that if the 20th century is to belong to anybody, it may be to Australia and not to Canada," he wrote in a long special report in 1971.
Later, as executive editor, he was in charge of just about everything, including running the paper's domestic and foreign bureaus. A slender and outgoing man who was well liked by colleagues, he possessed a distinctive sense of style and a refined fondness for certain cigars. With one eye brown and the other blue, he sported a neatly trimmed beard and dressed well even while at home with Friends. Once, on a trip to the Middle East, he took along a white suit but was discouraged from attending a formal dinner. Canadian embassy officials insisted he stay away; only the local potentate could wear white.
In the newsroom, he was a tough boss who demanded clear writing and accuracy from his stable of writers and reporters. He had "a good eye for hiring and capacity for firing without leaving blood on the floor," said his death notice, most of which he wrote himself.
He was also seen as an early advocate for covering economics and business properly.
"He played a really important role when business journalism was starting to evolve, not just in his own work but in the people he hired," said Christopher WADDELL, a professor of journalism at Carleton University who once worked under Mr. ROBERTSON. " Dalton laid the groundwork for business journalism for the last 25 years."
Over the years, he groomed scores of young journalists and helped launch them in their careers. Among them are Andrew Coyne of Maclean's; Globe and Mail editor Edward Greenspon; Giles Gherson, former editor of the Toronto Star and Edmonton Journal; Andrew Cohen, a Carleton University associate professor and author Gordon Pitts, a Report on Business columnist; Richard Blackwell, an Report on Business reporter; and Ian Brown, a Globe feature writer.
"He ran an incubator for business journalists," said Patricia Best, who worked at The Financial Post from 1978 to 1985 and is now an Report on Business columnist. "Dalton was so different. When he hired me, he asked, 'What are you reading?' I said, Alice Munro's short stories, which later I thought might not have been too businesslike. The next day, he hired me and said it was because I was reading Alice Munro."
She became the first woman at The Financial Post to cover the auto industry and came to realize that, while he was kind, he had high standards. "Dalton had faith in people and he took a gamble on them. [But] he was tough as nails. He didn't like any kind of fakery."
On a personal level, he took another gamble in 1981, when he bought a house in southwestern France. After The Financial Post, it was to become his second great passion. Located in the village of Puycelci, about an hour north of Toulouse, it, too, benefited from the ROBERTSON sense of style.
"It was built into the ramparts of the village and Dalton worked at expanding the gardens and the house," said Bea RIDDELL, a colleague at The Financial Post and one of Mr. ROBERTSON's closest Friends. "He was a marvellous host, whether it was in France or at home in Toronto."
He so loved the place that he decided to take early retirement and spend more time there. To better integrate himself in the community, he hired a local person to tutor him in French so that he eventually became fluent.
For many years, he also owned a large house in the Rosedale area of Toronto as well as a cottage in Ontario's Muskoka cottage country. He later sold the Toronto house to concentrate on his property in France.
He had done that sort of thing many times before - he was an adept flipper of real estate, working his way up from the Toronto neighbourhoods of Riverdale and Cabbagetown to the heights of inner Rosedale and then to a choice property in France, all the while keeping a smaller place back home. "You can't make any money in journalism," he liked to say.
Not that anyone ever heard from him when he was in France for long periods - at least not by e-mail. He hated computers. When they arrived in force at The Financial Post, he ignored them. He never owned one, never had an e-mail address and never learned to type with any degree of skill or enthusiasm. "He would retire into his office and write his editorials in long hand, then give them to someone to type them out," Mr. Pitts recalled.
In later years, if Mr. ROBERTSON had to send or receive e-mail, he would get a friend to do it for him using their own account, usually that of his companion, Brian WILKS.
His retirement from The Financial Post in 1987 was a bittersweet event. He was off for glorious France, but leaving his first love behind - a somewhat unrequited love, at that. Years before, he had been openly promised the job of editor-in-chief but then passed over when the time came in the mid-1970s. Executives told him they could not appoint a gay man as the editor of Canada's most prominent business newspaper. Instead, they named Mr. NANKIVELL to the job. By way of compromise, Mr. ROBERTSON became executive editor.
Characteristically, he kept his disappointment to himself and a few select Friends. At his retirement party, he joked that he was leaving for three reasons: the advance of technology the new work ethic that demanded arriving at the office before 10 a.m.; and society's puritanical attitude against smoking.
Dalton Sinclair ROBERTSON was born in Providence, R.I., on October 25, 1927. He died after collapsing in Mexico on January 27, 2008. He was 80 and suffered from lupus. He was 80. He is survived by companion Brian WILKS.

  L... Names     LA... Names     LAN... Names     Welcome Home

LANGAN o@ca.on.york_county.toronto.globe_and_mail 2008-03-07 published
Mainstay of Front Page Challenge also co-wrote hit Canadian musical
Sketch writer went from teaching high-school English to turning out a stream of scripts for such popular television shows as Wayne and Shuster and the revue Toronto, Toronto
By F.F. LANGAN, Special to The Globe and Mail, Page S8
Toronto -- At an age when many men go through a midlife crisis, Chuck WEIR went through a midlife career change. He switched from the life of a high-school teacher and football coach at a Toronto private school to being a full-time, television comedy and continuity writer.
While he made his name on Front Page Challenge, he also worked on This is the Law, Wayne and Shuster, King of Kensington, and Hart and Lorne Terrific Hour, and co-wrote a popular musical that ran for more than two years in Toronto in the early 1980s. Much later, just for fun, he resumed coaching football - but in France.
"He was more than just a comedy and variety writer," said his friend Steve Clarke. "He did everything from stage plays to screenwriting."
Chuck WEIR spent his early years in the Toronto neighbourhood of Kensington Market but moved around Ontario after the outbreak of the Second World War. The WEIR family, whose origins lay in Ukraine, suffered a temporary breakup when his father, John, was interned under the War Measures Act because he was a member of the Communist Party. An uncle was also a Communist and union organizer.
As a result, Chuck and his sister Lorna were sent to live with their grandparents on a farm in St. David's, Ontario, where they adapted to rural life and kept a pet calf named Bambi and a piglet called Moonbeam. But life could sometimes turn unpleasant for a city boy. "One day, some older boys convinced him that, to become immune to poison ivy, you had to eat the berries. He almost died," recalled his sister. "He had the rash in his mouth, down his throat and all the way down his esophagus."
He was saved by an emergency trip to the local hospital.
"Since that time, Chuck could roll in a poison ivy patch and never be affected," Lorna CLARK added. "I guess it worked."
At 8, he found celebrity of a different kind. In 1942, he travelled alone by train to see a relative in Lethbridge, Alberta. As it happened, the governor-general, Viscount Alexander, was also on that train and young Chuck was interviewed by the Winnipeg Free Press. "A newswoman interviewed me and asked me a lot of questions for the paper," he wrote his sister at the time. "I astounded everyone with my yo-yo."
Back in Toronto, he showed an early interest in the performing arts by learning Ukrainian dance steps at the Ukrainian Labour Temple on Bathurst Street. There, he learned to do the leaps and squats of traditional Ukrainian dance numbers. Later in life, he taught Ukrainian dancing.
When he was about 13, he went to Camp Naivelt, a Jewish summer camp outside of Toronto that was supported by the Communist Party. Despite the indoctrination, Chuck WEIR never shared his father's ideology. (But it did come back to haunt him when he was once denied entry into the United States because he had the same name as his Communist uncle).
Mr. WEIR attended Humberside Collegiate Institute. There, he proved himself a good student and a natural athlete. He was the quarterback and star player of the football team. Later, he studied journalism at Ryerson, then majored in English at the University of Toronto, where he earned a master's degree. For many years, he taught English, first at Royal York Collegiate and then at University of Toronto Schools. He was also the high-school football coach.
It was about then that he took up writing. He co-wrote two school textbooks and, on the side, wrote scripts for television and for such comedians such as Dave Broadfoot. By 1969, he had given up teaching to write full time.
He was never short of work. Among his early successes was Hart and Lorne Terrific Hour, a Canadian Broadcasting Corporation variety show modelled on the popular U.S. show Laugh-In. The show ran in 1970 and 1971 and starred Hart Pomerantz and Lorne Michaels, who later went on to produce Saturday Night Live. He also wrote skits for Wayne and Shuster and This is the Law, featuring panelists and vignettes anchored in the law. His longest gig, however, was spent working for Front Page Challenge.
The longest-running weekly television program of its kind in North America, Front Page Challenge was a game show based on current events. For those too young to remember, an announcer hidden from the four panelists read a recent headline from a newspaper and they would set about identifying the event.
To audiences, the patter of the host, Fred Davis, and the words of the off-camera announcer always seemed unrehearsed. In fact, for half of the life of the program, which ran from 1957 to 1995, the lines were written by Mr. WEIR.
Sometimes, he also was the show's warm-up man, whose job it was to get an audience in the mood before the cameras started to roll. He was so good at it that other programs enlisted his talents, including This is the Law and King of Kensington, a comedy starring Al Waxman set in Mr. WEIR's old neighbourhood.
What interested him the most about working on Front Page Challenge was meeting the guests, who ranged from astronaut Buzz Aldrin to Louise Brown, the world's first test-tube baby, and survivors of a 1972 South American plane crash who survived though cannibalism. He brought them home for dinner. Their story was told in the 1974 book Alive and by the 1993 movie of the same name.
"It opened him up to so many people, and that was one of his favourite parts of the program," said Mr. Clarke, with whom he worked later in his career.
Mr. WEIR also worked on Music of Man, an eight-part 1979 Canadian Broadcasting Corporation series hosted by violinist Yehudi Menuhin that was nominated for an Emmy, and an award-winning 1980 special made with skater Toller Cranston.
"It was the first time anyone had used black ice to shoot a skating program," said his daughter Alissa.
Mr. WEIR also co-wrote Toronto, Toronto, a cabaret-style satirical revue that opened in the Theatre in the Dell in October of 1980, and ran for 31 months. His co-writer, Mark Shekter, went on to a career in Hollywood. The play's hit song was Spadina/China Syndrome. It dealt with the transition of a Jewish neighbourhood to a Chinese one. The lyrics, in part, went as follows:
What can you eat on Spadina?
What is this dish rice fried?
When you are looking for a bagel you get a cookie with message inside.
"It is sung by two old Yiddish gentleman who bemoan the loss of the Jewish garment district which had been overwhelmed by the Chinese community," Mr. WEIR told The Globe and Mail in 1983. "It's not racist, though I've had letters from people who felt it was."
The show, intended as a celebration of the city's burgeoning ethnic diversity, grossed nearly $1-million and was, at that time, the longest-running show of its kind in Canadian history. It was described by then-Globe theatre critic Ray CONLOGUE as "a genuine love letter to the city."
Shortly after the end of its run, Mr. WEIR went to France to write novels. He wrote three, though none was ever published. He lived in Aix-en-Provence for five years, and became coach of a team that played North American football. Called the Aix-en-Provence Argonauts, they won the Coupe d'Or - the European championship of, for the French, a fairly obscure sport. Mr. WEIR was named coach of the year in France.
When he returned to Canada in 1990, he continued to do research and write for Front Page Challenge until it went off the air. He also worked on screenplays with Steve Clarke and pursued many hobbies, from repairing cars to fishing.
"He was a keen outdoorsman," said his daughter Alissa. "Fishing in the Arctic was a lifelong dream that he was able to fulfill. He had incredible skill with his hands from carpentry to tinkering with cars. He said he missed his calling, as he should have been a plastic surgeon because he was so good with his hands."
In the past few years, he and his wife, Carole, did a lot of travelling. One of the more memorable trips was to China, during which they took a boat ride down the Yangtze before the river was made unnavigable by the Three Gorges Dam. On that trip, he wrote, directed and acted in a series of on-board skits that amused his fellow travellers.
Charles William WEIR was born in Toronto on September 20, 1934. He died in Toronto of a brain tumour on January 12, 2008. He was 73. He is survived by his wife, Carole MUTCH, step-son Tony MUTCH and two daughters from his first marriage, Lea and Alissa.

  L... Names     LA... Names     LAN... Names     Welcome Home

LANGAN o@ca.on.york_county.toronto.globe_and_mail 2008-03-07 published
GILBRIDE, Larry
Husband, uncle, bobsledder, golfer, taxman. Born November 21, 1942, in Montreal. Died July 15, 2007, in Toronto of pancreatic cancer, aged 64.
By Fred LANGAN, Page L6
Larry GILBRIDE was a man without an enemy in the world. He was so well-loved by the people he worked with at the government tax office that they flew the flag at half-mast when he died.
Larry was a straight shooter, a modest man with a wonderful dry sense of humour. He never complained, not even during his brief bout with cancer.
He was brought up in the Montreal suburb of the Town of Mount Royal. His parents decided to send Larry to an all-French primary school. There wasn't an English Catholic high school nearby, so like many other boys Larry took the bus to Loyola High School, a Jesuit private boy's school.
During high school, Larry did a lot of typical teenage things: He played hockey, took up the guitar and played in a band for a while.
When he was at Loyola College and for a few years afterward he shared a ski shack in St-Sauveur, Quebec, with 10 of his Friends - a young man's paradise in the 1960s.
Larry's first job was with CIL chemical company. A bean counter by day, he was anything but the mild-mannered accountant on the weekend.
Larry loved speed. To start, he raced cars at tracks in Quebec. His first racing car was a Sunbeam Alpine, a British two-seater. He then raced a Camaro at the track at St-Jovite.
But if racing cars was dangerous, Larry went on to a much riskier sport. He started out with the luge, a kind of tiny sled for adult daredevils, and then moved on to the bobsled.
In 1975, Larry drove the four-man Quebec team to third place in the North American championships at Lake Placid, New York He was also the manager of the bobsled team representing Canada at the 1980 Olympics held in Lake Placid.
The next passion in Larry's life was golf, which he took up in 1980. One of his first golf partners was his future wife, Joan PETERSON. After being downsized from work after 25 years, Larry found himself with time on his hands. As he looked for a new job, he improved his golf score from the high 90s to the mid-80s.
Larry worked for the Canada Revenue Agency for 15 years. Being the taxman made a few of his Friends nervous, but he was great company over beers. He was a bachelor who married late in life, amazing his Friends by settling into domesticity. He was also a devoted uncle.
Larry was quite handy at fixing things up around the house. Most Fridays he would play golf at Spring Lakes golf club in Stouffville, Ontario. He also loved his dogs. He and Joan had a beagle called Rush, then another beagle named Sally.
Larry died too soon. His Friends and family miss him, his chuckle and his droll wit.
Fred LANGAN is Larry's friend.

  L... Names     LA... Names     LAN... Names     Welcome Home

LANGAN o@ca.on.york_county.toronto.globe_and_mail 2008-03-29 published
George GROSS, 85: Journalist
Czech refugee became founding sports editor of the Toronto Sun
By F.F. LANGAN, Special to The Globe and Mail, Page S11
Toronto -- George GROSS was one of only four reporters who covered the Toronto Maple Leafs full-time when the team last won the Stanley Cup in 1967. He worked for the old Toronto Telegram the others reported for The Globe and Mail, the Toronto Star and Hockey Night in Canada.
It meant the reporters, the players and the coach all came to know each other well. Mr. GROSS said he had the home phone numbers of the coach and players and, if he wanted, he could call them all at midnight. When the Leafs won the cup he and another sportswriter were given commemorative Stanley Cup rings.
The closeness also meant reporting could turn into cheerleading. Even so, Mr. GROSS could not be kept in the hip pocket of George (Punch) Imlach, the coach.
"Imlach blows last night's hockey game" was the gist of a headline in the Telegram sports section, Mr. GROSS told a writer for the Ryerson Review of Journalism two years ago.
"You didn't have to be that rough on me," Mr. Imlach said to him the next day.
"Punch Imlach knew we had to do a job," recalled Mr. GROSS. "We couldn't prostitute ourselves. If the team played lousy, we said it."
Nicknamed The Baron because of his European background, he was born in the former state of Czechoslovakia but fled the Communist regime there in 1949. He and friend, saying they were practising their rowing on the Danube, made their escape to Austria in a small boat. Eventually, he made it to Canada on more conventional transportation and first found work as a labourer.
In Czechoslovakia, he had worked as a sports reporter and he restarted his career in Toronto as soon as he had mastered English. He first performed freelance work for the Toronto Telegram, and was finally given a full-time job there as a sports reporter in 1959. The paper folded in October, 1971, and from its ashes arose the Toronto Sun. In the process, Mr. GROSS became the new paper's founding sports editor.
Interestingly, he had also received a job offer from the Montreal Star. The sports editor, Red Fisher, told him the new tabloid wouldn't last three months. Instead, it was the Star that folded a few years later.
As sports editor of the Sun, Mr. GROSS travelled the world covering sports events. One of his favourites was tennis. A keen player all his life, he covered Wimbledon at least 12 times according to his wife, Elizabeth. One tournament he missed was the 1972 hockey series between the Soviet Union and Canada. He had been tipped off that the Russians might hand him over to the Czech secret police if he went to Moscow. At the time, he was in Stockholm covering some Canadian exhibition games and preparing to go to Moscow.
"I don't scare easily, but I don't profess to be dumb," he later said. He returned home to watch the series on television.
In 1986, Mr. GROSS retired as sports editor but kept on writing. With the job title of corporate sports editor, he continued to cover a succession of events. In recent years he had was responsible for producing a soccer column, a notebook column and a Sunday column every week.
Like many people from central Europe, Mr. GROSS mastered more than one language (he spoke German, Czech, Slovak, Hungarian and some Russian) but never lost his accent while speaking English. "That was part of the Baron persona," said his son, George. "My father lived a very full life. He always said he wanted to work until the end, and the only way he wanted to go out was suddenly."
Mr. GROSS was a member of the Canadian Sports Hall of Fame and the Canadian Soccer Hall of Fame, and a recipient of the Elmer Ferguson Memorial Award from the Hockey Hall of Fame. He also held the Order of Ontario and was awarded the Olympic Order by the International Olympic Committee.
George GROSS, was born on January 23, 1923, in Bratislava. He died of a heart attack in Toronto on March, 21, 2008. He was 85. He leaves his wife, Elizabeth, his son, George, and daughter Elizabeth.

  L... Names     LA... Names     LAN... Names     Welcome Home

LANGAN o@ca.on.york_county.toronto.globe_and_mail 2008-04-25 published
Hiram Walker head went from battling U-boats to battling hostile takeovers
Chemical engineer who put himself through school by rolling whisky barrels at Gooderham and Worts survived the Battle of the Atlantic and rose to the top of the distillery industry
By F.F. LANGAN, Special to The Globe and Mail, Page S9
Toronto -- Bud DOWNING fought two major battles in his life. One as an anti-submarine specialist on a destroyer during the Second World War; the other, staving off a takeover bid from the Reichmann family during his time as chief executive of Hiram Walker Resources.
Mr. DOWNING spent his entire working life in the booze business, from rolling whisky barrels in a summer job to running Hiram Walker and then acting as a consultant to Bacardi. He always drank his own brands, and his favourites were Canadian Club rye and Ballantine's scotch. He took both with water.
Always known as Bud, he was the son of a cattle farmer in Mount Elgin, Ontario, a hamlet between Woodstock and Tillsonburg, who also butchered animals in a small abattoir he operated. Young Bud went to a one-room schoolhouse, then attended high school in nearby Woodstock.
He did well in secondary school, took music lessons, became class valedictorian and went on to the University of Toronto to study chemical engineering. It was while he was at university that he first worked in the liquor business, landing a job at the Gooderham and Worts Distillery in Toronto, where he manhandled barrels of whisky - he really did start at the bottom. Later, he worked in the lab at the distillery. After two years of university, he left to join the Royal Canadian Navy.
One of his family members says he refused the officer's training program. The Battle of the Atlantic, the long struggle against German U-boats, was raging and "he wanted to go overseas as quickly as possible so he could see or experience some action."
He served on the HMCS Assiniboine, a river-class destroyer patrolling the North Atlantic. He operated a new secret invention called ASDIC, now known as sonar. An acronym for the Anti-Submarine Detection Investigation Committee, it was one of the most important weapons aboard a submarine-hunting destroyer such the Assiniboine. Part of the system was contained in a metal dome on the ship's hull. It sent out sound waves - the pings you hear in war movies - that bounced back when they hit a submarine. The operator had to listen for the pitch of the echo to judge whether the submarine was moving toward the destroyer or away from it.
"He would have been sitting in a small room in front of a bank of bearing indicators and trace recorders with a headset on," said Marc Milner, history professor at the University of New Brunswick and author of Canada's Navy: The First Century and other naval books. Prof. Milner said ASDIC operator had to be quick witted. "A lot of what mattered went on his head. Early on, the navy had learned to pick people with a musical background, who could differentiate the pitch on the asdic."
It helped that Mr. DOWNING played the piano.
He was also serving on the Assiniboine in the spring of 1944, when the ship was sent to patrol the Bay of Biscay and the approaches to the English Channel to keep the area clear of German U-boats. The idea was to make the waters safe for the hundreds of ships involved in the D-Day invasion of June 6. Part of that strategy as to attack naval installations and a large submarine base at Brest, a port city on the northwestern tip of Brittany, which sticks out into the Atlantic.
"Assiniboine was also involved in two night actions off the coast of Brest in July and August of 1944," said Prof. Milner. "The navy took its best sub hunters from the North Atlantic and they used their guns to keep U-boats from leaving the port at Brest."
The Globe and Mail reported the battle on its front page. "The Assiniboine was the only Canadian ship in group of five destroyers assigned to screen the famed [British battleship] Warspite during the operation," it said. The Assiniboine laid down a smokescreen for the battleship after it had finished shelling shore batteries with its enormous guns.
The Assiniboine had already been celebrated for one early success against a U-boat. On August 5, 1942, it pursued a submarine that was one of many responsible for sinking 11 out of 33 cargo ships the destroyer was escorting from Sydney, Nova Scotia, to Britain. The hunt lasted about 24 hours and, after a desperate struggle in which the Assiniboine suffered numerous hits and one gunner killed, the warship shelled and rammed U-210. The submarine sank, leaving 37 survivors.
Mr. DOWNING seldom talked about the war with his family. Although they thought he was an ordinary sailor, he had actually been promoted to sub-lieutenant - a junior officer - by war's end. He left the navy in September, 1945, in time to return to university.
He graduated two years later with his degree in chemical engineering. The thesis for his degree was on the distilling process, which made it easy for him to land his first job with Corby Distilleries in Corbyville, a small town near Belleville, Ontario
In 1950, he joined Hiram Walker and worked his way up in the company until May, 1982, when he became president and chief executive officer of Hiram Walker Resources. He expanded the company even further, taking it back to its liquor roots by increasing the firm's 12-per-cent stake in Bacardi, the rum maker that got its start in Cuba and is now headquartered in the Bahamas.
Mr. DOWNING was comfortable with the liquor business but was thrown in the deep end of corporate intrigue by a giant takeover bid. The company, flush with cash and helped by the pro-Canadian bias of the federal government's National Energy Policy, had expanded in the energy business. In 1980, Hiram Walker merged with Consumer's Gas, a large pipeline and gas distribution firm that also had oil properties. Oil was at an all-time high and everyone wanted in. By forming Hiram Walker Resources, the company made itself a difficult target for outsiders to take over.
The Reichmann family, through its energy arm, Gulf Canada Resources, already had a 10-per-cent stake in Hiram Walker Resources by 1986. On the morning of March 19, 1986, Mr. DOWNING was awakened at 5 a.m. while he was on vacation in California. His secretary told him Albert Reichmann had called, and that it was urgent.
He called back and Mr. Reichmann announced that his company would be making a bid to buy 38 per cent of Hiram Walker. According to Peter Foster, who wrote two books on the subject, Mr. DOWNING took the high ground and looked after shareholders and not his own skin.
"He pointed out that no management liked to be taken over, but his main concern was to maximize the value of any offer to his shareholders. Entrenchment of himself or management would not be a consideration," wrote Mr. Foster in Towers of Debt.
An investment banker who worked on the deal at the time later said: "Bud DOWNING was a very principled man."
There followed a complex battle involving Allied Lyons PLC - a British liquor holding company that was after Hiram Walker's drinks business - and three Canadian firms. Oddly enough, they all occupied offices on different floors of First Canadian Place, a huge Toronto office building owned by the Reichmann family. The holding company Olympia and York was on the 32nd floor; Mr. DOWNING and Hiram Walker were on the 6th floor; and Interprovincial Pipe Line, which was also involved in the takeover, was on the 37th.
Mr. DOWNING was convinced that Interprovincial Pipeline, of which Hiram Walker Resources was the largest shareholder, had defected to the Reichmann camp. The takeover battle was fought with press releases, Concorde flights across the Atlantic by investment advisers and many near-sleepless nights for Mr. DOWNING.
When the smoke had cleared, the Reichmann company was paying $3-billion for Hiram Walker Resources, the liquor, the pipelines and the oil - all in one package.
Mr. DOWNING resigned but kept his hand in the booze business by becoming a consultant to Bacardi, which had survived the takeover battle as a separate entity.
With his increased leisure time, Mr. DOWNING changed hobbies. Early in life, he liked to curl, but now he took up fly-fishing. Isolated locations appealed to him most and he fished for salmon and Arctic char in Iceland and on the Grand River on the shores of James Bay.
Alfred Eric DOWNING was born at Mount Elgin, Ontario, on February 28, 1923. He died of complications from Alzheimer's disease in Toronto on February 4, 2008. He was 84. He is survived by his wife Elizabeth (Betty) and his children, Janet and Eric.

  L... Names     LA... Names     LAN... Names     Welcome Home

LANGAN o@ca.on.york_county.toronto.globe_and_mail 2008-05-09 published
Air Canada skipper moonlighted as chief pilot of warplane museum
Fascinated by aviation even as a small boy, he paid for his own flight training until he was qualified to join an airline. 'Pilots like him come along two or three times in a generation'
By F.F. LANGAN, Special to The Globe and Mail, Page S8
Toronto -- Peter GUTOWSKI was a pilot all his adult life. He flew everything from a Boeing 747 jumbo jet to a Corsair, a powerful single-engine fighter from the Second World War. Although too young to have flown against the Axis, he performed in hundreds of air shows as chief pilot for the Canadian Warplane Heritage Museum in Hamilton.
Indeed, his life was shaped by the war. Born in Poland in 1935, his father [Michal Mieczyslaw Wojciech GUTOWSKI] was an army officer who managed to escape the massacre of the Polish officer corps by the Soviets in the Katyn Forest in 1940.
Peter, along with his brother Marek and his mother Sophie, left their family home and spent the war in Krakow. His father made his way to Britain, where he joined remnants of Polish forces. Four years later, he landed in Normandy with the 1st Polish Armoured Division just after D-Day. By the time Germany surrendered in May of 1945, he was a lieutenant-colonel commanding the 2nd Polish Armoured Regiment.
With the war in Europe over, Peter, Marek and their mother Sophie made their way first to Czechoslovakia, then Hungary, before finally meeting up with Col. GUTOWSKI in Germany.
The family moved first to England, then to Canada in 1948. Col. GUTOWSKI, a cavalry officer who won a silver medal in the 1936 Olympics, had been invited to train the Canadian army equestrian team. After that was disbanded, he spent many years instructing at the Caledon Riding and Hunt Club near Toronto. He also trained the Canadian Olympic team from 1948 to 1955.
Apart from his father, there was another war hero in Peter GUTOWSKI's life. His uncle Zbyszek GUTOWSKI, who still lives in Montreal, was a fighter pilot in the Royal Air Force during the war. He was captured and sent to Stalag Luft III, a prisoner of war camp that became famous in March, 1944, for the Great Escape, a bid to flee by dozens of prisoners. Although he never escaped, Uncle Zbyszek's tales of flying likely convinced young Peter GUTOWSKI to take up aviation. Even as a small boy, he was in love with the notion of flight; he filled his school notebooks with doodles of aircraft.
Peter GUTOWSKI spent his teenaged years on the outskirts of Toronto. He graduated from a high school in suburban Richmond Hill and then worked as an installer for Bell Canada. For a time, he shared an apartment with a young German immigrant whose father had been a pilot in the Luftwaffe. The two men became lifelong Friends.
While working for Bell, Mr. GUTOWSKI put himself through flight training at Toronto Island Airport. He got his private licence at 19 and started accumulating hours and qualifications required for a commercial licence. His first job in aviation was as a co-pilot with Trans-Canada Airlines, as Air Canada was then called, when he was 21.
"It was October of 1957 [and] we were in the last class to train on the DC-3," said Jack DESMARAIS, a fellow pilot at Air Canada. "And he finished on the 747-400 in 1995."
At Trans-Canada Airlines, he was so devoted to his job that when he proposed to his wife, Peggy, in 1960, she remembered him warning that flying was very important in his life.
"He told me 'You'll always come second to my flying,' " she laughed. "All that really meant was that if there was a phone call during dinner that had to do with flying, we would have to wait until he came back."
In 1967, the year he turned 31, Mr. GUTOWSKI was promoted to captain. Although his regular job was as a senior pilot for Air Canada, he loved flying so much that he decided to join the volunteers at the Warplane Heritage Museum. The group restores and flies such famous Second World War aircraft as the Lancaster bomber, the Mitchell B-25 and the Spitfire.
George STEWARD/STEWART/STUART, one of the first members of the group, remembers when Mr. GUTOWSKI approached the other pilots. "He was immaculately dressed in clean white running shoes, a leather jacket and gloves. He came up and said he'd like to fly the Chipmunk [a small trainer] and said he'd be pleased to pay for its operating costs."
Within a few years, he was the chief pilot. The others respected his skill. His training as a commercial pilot meant he insisted the pilots flying the old warplanes be prepared for any eventualities and avoid taking chances that might endanger their lives.
"He believed in showing off the airplane, not the pilot. In his Corsair, he would fly low and fast over the field but never do aerobatics," Mr. STEWARD/STEWART/STUART said. "His concern for safety probably saved a lot of our lives."
In more than three decades of flying, Canadian Warplane Heritage has lost only one pilot, Alan NESS - one of the founders of the group - who crashed a Fairey Firefly at the Canadian National Exhibition Air show in 1977. Peter GUTOWSKI was in the air at the time in a B-25.
"We saw the plane go in and for five minutes, I didn't know whether or not it was Peter," said Peggy GUTOWSKI. "We were discussing just last month how, over the years, 32 of his Friends had died in air shows."
His family travelled to many shows, and his wife went up with him in more than one of his "war birds," as the pilots call their vintage aircraft. The air shows were usually in Hamilton or Toronto but could be as far afield as Texas or the Rickenbacker Airfield in Columbus, Ohio.
Mr. GUTOWSKI's mainstay at the air shows was the Chance Vought Corsair, a carrier-launched fighter capable of speeds in excess of 700 kilometres an hour. Although U.S.-built, it was also used extensively by the Royal Navy. One of them was flown by Canadian lieutenant Robert Hampton Gray in the closing days of the war. He was posthumously awarded the Victoria Cross for an heroic attack on a Japanese destroyer, and the museum chose to name its Corsair after him. Although a favourite with the crowds, it was sold several years ago to an American collector for about $1-million.
After 38 years at Air Canada, Mr. GUTOWSKI was forced to retire at 60. He immediately landed a job flying a Cessna Citation, a small jet, for Roblin Enterprises. "Peter was so keen to fly. As soon as you called him, he'd answer, 'Where am I going?' If you needed him, he was always available," said Micheline BOCOCK, the dispatcher whose husband owned Roblin Enterprises.
Mr. GUTOWSKI flew corporate jets all over North America for 11 years. One of the principal customers was Magna, the maker of auto parts based in Aurora, Ontario
He retired after he was diagnosed with cancer, but continued to fly for the Warplane Heritage Museum, and took to the skies last fall while his disease was in remission.
In 53 years of flying, he logged 30,000 hours in the air. That's 1,250 days - nearly 3½ years. In that time, he flew eight different types of aircraft for Trans-Canada Airlines and Air Canada: Douglas DC-3 Viscount; Vanguard; DC-8; DC-9; Boeing 727; 767 and two types of 747. At air shows, he flew the Chipmunk, Tiger Moth, Anson, Harvard, Corsair, B-25 and Invader.
All this without an accident, although he did experience what pilots call "incidents."
"He had some emergencies - who hasn't? Even when he had problems, he always managed to get it down," Mr. DESMARAIS said. "Pilots like him come along two or three times in a generation. He was a natural. You either have it or you don't, and he had it."
Peter GUTOWSKI was born November 17, 1935, in Leszno, Poland. He died of cancer at home in Toronto on March 31, 2008. He was 72. He is survived by wife Peggy and daughter Michele.

  L... Names     LA... Names     LAN... Names     Welcome Home

LANGAN o@ca.on.york_county.toronto.globe_and_mail 2008-06-06 published
Wounded on the sands of Normandy, his one-day war ended on D-Day
His life was saved by a thick letter from home he had tucked into the breast pocket of his tunic. It deflected a bullet into his ribs and his arm, and he spent the rest of his life selling insurance in small-town Ontario
By F.F. LANGAN, Special to The Globe and Mail, Page S8
Don DONER's war lasted just one day - D-Day, June 6, 1944.
The night before, he boarded a ship in Southampton on the southern coast of England. It was pitch dark, but he and the rest of the Queen's Own Rifles of Canada had practised the drill so many times they didn't need any light.
They had been in the port since June 4, waiting for the signal for the invasion of Nazi-occupied Europe. They knew the real thing was coming when breakfast arrived. "The last meal, so to speak, of the condemned," he said in a memoir written in 1982. "It was bacon and eggs - something unheard of in the army."
A storm had just passed through the area, leaving behind rough seas. Just off the French coast, he and the other men from 8 Section of 9 Platoon, "A" Company of the Queen's Own, left the mother ship, transferred to assault craft A9 and headed toward the beach at Bernieres-sur-mer. It was their bad luck to be among the first to land in Normandy on D-Day, and worse for Mr. DONER. He was second in line to enter the water, right behind his pal Corporal Hugh ROCKS.
"We were elected to be the assault section for the platoon, which meant that we would be first to leap off the assault craft, carry bangalores [long, cylindrical mines], steel ladders, wire mesh and any other material that would assist us in scaling the sea wall and blowing holes in the barbed wire," wrote Mr. DONER.
Don DONER was no gung-ho, Royal Canadian Legion cliché of a soldier. He was just a kid who joined the army at 19 and soon grew cynical about the military and the war. He often went Absent Without Leave, mostly to visit girlfriends. A good-looking young man, he found falling in love rather easy. One time, he got cold feet and backed out of an engagement to a young British woman, although he did leave the material for the wedding dress - he'd had it sent from Canada - at her front door.
Riding toward the beach that morning he felt frightened, and believed most of the young men on the landing craft were no braver. "Just a bunch of ordinary guys thrown together by fate, not mad at anybody, not wanting to die or be maimed or blinded, just wanting to live and let live," he wrote. "Had 90 per cent of us known then what we know now, there wouldn't have been a war because none of us would have been there to fight it."
They may have been scared, but it didn't stop them fighting. As their boat approached the beach, a shell destroyed another landing craft that had been advancing alongside. Their own landing craft stopped in deep water, unable to go closer. Cpl. ROCKS, who was 5 feet 5 inches and a non-swimmer, asked Mr. DONER to go first. Standing 6 feet 2 inches, Mr. DONER stepped off the boat and found the water up to his chin. Cpl. ROCKS gamely followed. Burdened by a full battle kit, ammunition and a rifle, he sank to the bottom. Mr. DONER grasped his friend's hands underwater and led him part way to the beach.
Meanwhile, enemy machine-gun bullets flew thick and fast, and artillery and mortar shells exploded all around. Wounded or killed outright, many of the Queen's Own never cleared the surf.
The soldiers had orders that if a man was hit they were to leave him until the beach was secure. Mr. DONER saw one of his Friends in the water with massive wounds. He ignored his call for help, in part because it was obvious he was close to death. In the confusion, Mr. DONER lost sight of Cpl. ROCKS. A short while later, he went back to look for him. He found him dead, shot between the eyes.
Cpl. ROCKS, a hard-rock miner from Kirkland Lake, Ontario, was 40. Probably the oldest man from the unit to be killed on the beach that day, he had lied about his age to get into the war. As a married man in what was considered a vital industry, it is unlikely he would have been conscripted.
By that time, Mr. DONER had also been wounded. As implausible as it seems, his life was saved by mail from home. A bullet aimed straight at his chest hit the corner of an envelope containing a thick letter from his sister. He had put the letter in his breast pocket, and its many folds absorbed most of the impact. The bullet deflected off a rib and ended up in his arm. He was also struck many times over by bits of shrapnel that entered other parts of his body and would, years later, set off metal detectors at airports.
The key to survival was to get out of the line of fire. All around him, soldiers furiously dug down into the sand. "Steve DE BLOIS and I set a world record for digging a slit trench, wounded or not," he wrote.
The Queen's Own Rifles had landed near Bernieres-sur-mer just after 8 a.m. The rough seas meant the tanks were late coming ashore, and the infantry landed without their support. To make matters worse, the assault craft had taken them several hundred metres away from their planned objective and set them down right in front of a strong German position that included a powerful 88-mm gun.
"They received the worst battering of any Canadian unit on D-Day crossing the beaches," said Steve Harris, director of history at the Department of National Defence, whose father, Lieutenant J.P. Harris, was wounded while landing with the same regiment. In all, 60 men of Queen's Own were killed and another 78 were wounded, the worst casualty figures of any Canadian unit on D-Day.
In spite of the strength of the German positions, the regiment more than met their objectives. "So fast did the Queen's Own move against this and other positions that when the Regiment de la Chaudiere began to land behind them 15 minutes later, the only fire on the beach was coming from snipers," wrote war correspondent Chester Wilmot in his book, The Struggle for Europe.
Medics treated Mr. DONER's wounds on the beach and he was given the job of guarding some German prisoners. Some of them spoke English and they engaged him in conversation while all around the battle raged. "I talked with a German prisoner of war who wondered, much as I did, why he was there and blamed it all on the big wheels far removed from the battle area."
Mr. DONER was shipped back to England that day. A week later, he was sent home to Canada. His one-day war was over.
Don DONER was born in a Prairie village about 100 kilometres southeast of Saskatoon, but grew up in Toronto. His mother had died giving birth to him, and soon after that the family moved east to Ontario, where his father remarried. In Toronto, he attended Northern Secondary School on Mount Pleasant Road. He spent summers at his uncle's farm near Stayner, about 70 kilometres north of the city.
He enlisted in the army in September, 1941, and trained at Camp Borden in Ontario before being shipped to England. Like many young soldiers, he was not used to strong drink and freedom, and he got into a lot of trouble. He was disciplined several times for returning late to barracks, often after spending the evening at pubs and dances.
After the war, he worked for a time at European Silk in Toronto. By 1950, he and his brother Bob had retreated to the peace and quiet of small-town life in Alliston, Ontario Together, they set up an insurance brokerage called Doner Brothers. They got married and bought houses next door to each other. Don and his wife, Josephine, had six daughters; Bob and his wife, Maxine, had six sons.
Today, Alliston is the site of a busy Honda factory, and has grown enormously, but back then it was a typical, small Ontario community. "Alliston was like Mayberry. It had one stop light and my father's office was a drop-in spot for every character in town," said his daughter, Joanna DAHLIN. " Once a month, they ran a poker game in the basement."
Late in life, Mr. DONER was contacted by George ROCKS, son of Corporal Hugh ROCKS, the man he had tried to save on D-Day. George ROCKS was 6 when his father died.
"An uncle of mine read Don DONER's name in a book on D-Day and I contacted him. Speaking to Don brought everything to a close for me, to learn just how my father died," said Mr. ROCKS. "No one in my family ever spoke much about the war. There was no celebration in our house when the war ended. I was 30 before I learned my father died on D-Day."
For his part, Mr. DONER's views of the war and his role in it changed little over the years. While he felt the conflict had a purpose, he believed senior officers did not really know what they were expecting of Canada's young men. For many years, he refused to discuss the whole rotten business, and it was not until he was in his sixties that he began to talk about his experiences.
Donald Grieve DONER was born in Simpson, Saskatchewan, on July 23, 1922. He died at Sunnybrook Veterans Hospital in Toronto, of complications from Parkinson's disease, on May 3, 2008. He was 85. He is survived by his wife, Josephine (Josie), and his daughters Joanna, Christine, Mary, Helen, Martha and Jennifer. He also leaves his half-sisters Marilyn, Kay, Nan and Dorothy. His brother Bob died in January, 1987.

  L... Names     LA... Names     LAN... Names     Welcome Home

LANGAN o@ca.on.york_county.toronto.globe_and_mail 2008-06-25 published
Canadian Broadcasting Corporation news anchor was 'meticulous, an announcer of the old school'
One of the last news readers hired by the corporation for voice alone and not for their reportorial skills, he broke the news to English Canada that Pierre Laporte had been murdered by the Front de Liberation du Québec
By F.F. LANGAN, Special to The Globe and Mail, Page S8
George FINSTAD was the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation announcer who broke the news to much of English Canada that Pierre Laporte had been murdered by the Front de Liberation du Québec.
On the night of October 17, 1970, the body of the Quebec Labour Minister was found in the trunk of a car near Saint-Hubert Airport on Montreal's South Shore. Mr. Laporte had been kidnapped from his home in nearby Saint-Lambert six days earlier.
Mr. FINSTAD had just started as the backup and weekend newsreader for The National News. It was the first political assassination in Canada in more than 100 years and although Mr. FINSTAD made the announcement in his calm, trained voice, the event had a profound affect on him.
"George was really shaken by the incident," said Lloyd Robertson, then the main newsreader at the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, who was called in to work after news of the Laporte murder became known. "I remember him coming out of the studio and saying 'Wow, this is something that I never thought I'd see happen.' "
At first, Mr. FINSTAD went on without a script and read bulletins as they came in to the television station. He updated events as the night unfolded, introducing reports from the field.
"He was meticulous, an announcer of the old school. It made things easier that night since we had been working day and night for weeks on this story before the body was found," said Peter Daniel, a Canadian Broadcasting Corporation reporter in Montreal who spent long hours on the air during the October Crisis.
By then, George FINSTAD had spent almost two decades in broadcasting. The son of Norwegian immigrants, he grew up in Edmonton. His father, Carl, was often away from home, working on oil derricks, as a cook in lumber camps and later on ships in the merchant marine. His mother, Anna, worked in a factory in Edmonton during the war.
Young George had a great singing voice and there was some talk of him attending a music conservatory but the family couldn't afford it. Instead, he picked up a couple of other skills: golf and pool.
"My father was a something of a pool shark," said daughter Laurie FINSTAD- KNIZHNIK. "He was shy and sweet-looking, so people thought they could hustle him, but he could clear a table in minutes."
After graduating from Strathcona High School, known to its students as "Scona," he went to work at CKUA, a 250-watt radio station run by the University of Alberta and the provincial government. He did everything there, from reading the news to putting out the garbage. For a man who later became known as a dignified newsreader, one of his first announcing jobs was on a children's program in which he played a fish.
The money wasn't great, so he took a year off to operate a dredge at Great Bear Lake in the Northwest Territories. He then returned to the typical career path of a young announcer, working in a number of Western Canadian radio stations from Lloydminster to Victoria before joining the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation in 1964.
He first worked in Toronto as a summer replacement in 1965, and then moved full-time to the network headquarters in 1968. Along with reading The National News, he worked on a number of other programs. One of them was Lifestyles, a consumer-oriented show he co-hosted with newspaper reporter Joan Watson. It later morphed into a full-time network program called Marketplace. At the time, there was nothing of its type on television. Private stations couldn't run anything like it since they were in danger of alienating sponsors. Mr. FINSTAD was nominated for an award for his work.
"He was very focused, hard-working, driven in the sense that he wanted to ensure everything he did was right and proper on air and it always was," said anchor Peter Mansbridge, who was a reporter in Western Canada at the time. "I think back to watching George, I can never remember him making a mistake. He was always right on with everything, not only just the simple act of reading but ensuring he pronounced everything right. That can be a challenge in some newscasts."
Mr. FINSTAD's enunciation skills were in demand elsewhere, too. He provided voiceovers for many television productions, including the documentary Who Owns the Sea?, which he narrated with Gordon Pinsent. A specially edited version of this program was later shown at a series of environmental meetings held in Stockholm, Geneva and New York that led to the Law of the Sea Convention being reached at the United Nations.
By the mid-1970s, things have begun to change at the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. The broadcaster wanted reporters who had worked in the field, not professional announcers, to read the news.
There was also a bizarre union jurisdiction, with the announcers being in one union and the reporters and news writers in another. In theory, the announcer of the newscast wasn't allowed to change so much as a comma in the news copy. It frustrated announcers such as Mr. Robertson and Mr. FINSTAD, who considered themselves journalists, not just newsreaders.
In 1976, Mr. Robertson left to go to CTV, where he still reads the nightly newscast. Colleagues say Mr. FINSTAD expected to be promoted to be the main newsreader, but the job went to reporter Peter Kent.
Mr. FINSTAD stayed until the following year. At the time, he was 42, and his daughter said his departure could have been the combined result of frustration and an urge to do something different. In any event, he went to Montreal, where he auditioned at CJAD radio for the job of morning news reader, the top job at the city's top English-language station.
"The program director, Ted Blackman, just loved the sound of George's voice. He would play the audition tape over and over and call people into his office to listen," recalls Stephen Phizicky, the news director at the station and another former Canadian Broadcasting Corporation employee. "The station wanted traditional great voices, and George had one of those voices."
Several years later, he and Mr. Phizicky both returned to the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, where Mr. FINSTAD read the local news. He stayed on as a Canadian Broadcasting Corporation announcer in Montreal. In September, 1988, he was driving home from work, listening to radio reports that Ben Johnson had just been stripped of his medal at the Seoul Olympics, when his car was struck by a large truck.
He was taken to nearby Queen Elizabeth Hospital, where he was pronounced dead, only to be revived by a visiting trauma specialist. His injuries were severe: Both lungs had collapsed and the rib cage was shattered.
"When he woke up four days later, he thought he had been injured in the Olympics," said daughter Kathy. "The accident had a real effect on his work. He couldn't finish a sentence without taking a breath."
In 1990, he retired from the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation at 56. He and his wife, Betty, went to Vancouver for a while but moved back to Toronto after their first grandchild was born.
Mr. FINSTAD loved the spoken word and the written word. He was forever working at crossword puzzles, cryptic, acrostic and regular, and played word games with all his children.
"He drilled all five of us in homonyms and definitions so we knew the meaning of both enigma and conundrum," said Ms. FINSTAD- KNIZHNIK, the creator and writer of the television series, Durham County. "He was obsessed with language. There were vocabulary and grammar tests, Scrabble until midnight and more dictionaries than you could count. He had a true love of language and what could be done with it."
George FINSTAD was born in Edmonton on October 7, 1934. He died May 30, 2008, of a heart attack in hospital in Toronto. He was 73. He is survived by wife Betty, children Laurie, Rob, Mark, Kathy and Kim, a brother and four sisters.

  L... Names     LA... Names     LAN... Names     Welcome Home

LANGAN o@ca.on.york_county.toronto.globe_and_mail 2008-07-21 published
Engineer oversaw the Turbo Train and the construction of the C.N. Tower
He rose from a 31-cents-an-hour apprentice to vice-president and helped to take C.N. from the steam era to diesels, with a mistaken dalliance with the jet age along the way
By F.F. LANGAN, Special to The Globe and Mail, Page S11
Keith HUNT started his working life as an apprentice electrician in the C.N. rail yards in London, Ontario In a leap that invites comparisons with an army general who rose to power from the rank of private, he ended his working life as a vice-president of the railway and was the first man to walk down the stairs at the C.N. Tower, a construction project he oversaw.
He was born on a farm in Southwestern Ontario and grew up in nearby London. He dropped out of Sir Adam Beck Collegiate High School when he was 16 and went into the apprentice program at the Canadian National Railway, training to become an electrician. His starting salary was 31 cents an hour, or $14.88 for a 48-hour work week.
A natural athlete, he played semi-professional baseball in London for $25 a game, almost double the money he was making at Canadian National Railway. He was a pitcher and also covered first base but his real value was as a hitter. At 6 feet 2 inches and 200 pounds, he had huge hands and a powerful upper body that gave him real batting power. He might have become a professional baseball player, if only the Second World War had not intervened.
In 1942, he joined the Royal Canadian Air Force and qualified as a navigator with the rank of pilot officer. He went overseas with Royal Canadian Air Force 437 "Husky" Squadron and flew transport aircraft, mainly a military version of the Douglas DC-3 called the Dakota.
The squadron was formed on September 14, 1944, and three days later towed gliders filled with troops for Operation Market Garden, the Allied attack on Arnhem in the Netherlands. A few days later, the squadron lost four aircraft while re-supplying the Arnhem area. The battle itself was a failure, as portrayed in the book and film, A Bridge Too Far.
When the war in Europe ended in May, 1945, his squadron was assigned to fly newly liberated PoWs from Germany to Britain. One of those prisoners was his older brother, Clare, a navigator who had been captured about three years earlier and who was in poor health. Later, he went searching for Clare in an English hospital.
"My father used to tell the story of how he went back to London and looked for his brother in a hospital there," said his daughter, Dawn HUNT. " His brother was down to 90 pounds and he walked right by him without noticing him until someone said, 'your brother's over there.' "
The squadron remained in Europe to ferry people, military mail and equipment. In that postwar period the Huskies carried 25,269 passengers and many tons of supplies. According to Mr. HUNT's family, he and some other members of the squadron also helped the British national carrier, British Overseas Airways Corporation. The squadron history doesn't say anything about British Overseas Airways Corporation but does record that in 1946 "some Daks maintained a regular passenger service to Naples and Athens."
Mr. HUNT did not return to Canada until July, 1946. He went back to the apprenticeship program at the Canadian National Railway, working in London and at a Montreal diesel shop that handled the new technology that was replacing the steam locomotive. Mr. HUNT decided to take advantage of the Veterans Act and attend university.
The Canadian National Railway gave him a leave of absence to study electrical engineering at Queen's University. When he wasn't at university, he worked at C.N. to complete his apprenticeship. The year 1951 was a big one for Mr. HUNT: In June, he received his engineering degree, and in December he was finally awarded his electrician's certificate from CN.
When he finished his apprenticeship program he was earning $1.47 an hour, or $70 a week. At the start of 1952, he moved from being an hourly employee to a monthly salary of $347. As an engineering superintendent he had received a raise of about $500 a year.
Mr. HUNT rose through the ranks, helping the railway in the 1950s switch from steam to diesel.
His first appointment to the level of vice-president came in 1970 when he was made responsible of transportation and maintenance. He held a number of jobs, ranging from vice-president of system rail operations to vice-president of the Canadian National Railway Great Lakes Region.
While he was in Toronto in the mid-seventies he was put in charge of overseeing the building of the C.N. Tower. At a special opening for employees, Mr. HUNT was the first to take the stairs from the top to the bottom.
One of his disappointments, and a huge failure for the Canadian National Railway, was the Turbo Train, an engine powered by a gas turbine, jet-style, power plant.
The high-tech train still holds the railway speed record in Canada, of 226.27 kilometres an hour set on a stretch of track between Montreal and Cornwall, Ontario, on April 22, 1976. A loyal company man, he supported the turbo project but, as a practical railroading man, he knew the roadbed would be inadequate for high-speed trains. He was right, and the project was shelved.
Naturally enough, he knew the rail bed intimately. On his days off, he would sometimes walk along railway lines with one or two of his daughters, taking a look at the condition of the roadbed, and sending off a memo on Monday morning if everything wasn't up to his standards. His daughters remember accompanying their father to train derailments on weekends.
Later in his career, he and two other top executives saved an iconic steam engine from being turned into scrap. Built in 1944 at the Montreal Locomotive Works, 6060 was a powerful Mountain Type locomotive. It had been withdrawn from service in 1959 and put on display in Jasper National Park in 1962. Ten years later, Mr. HUNT and his Friends had the engine restored to working order and today it hauls a tourist train out of Stettler, Alberta.
As a man who ended up in the executive offices but who started in the London car shops, Mr. HUNT was always aware of the safety of people who worked on the railway. Derailments often ended in the death of the engineer if the locomotive went off the track at speed. The cab would be dragged along the rail bed, filling with ballast, suffocating and crushing those inside.
While in charge of the Great Lakes Region, he designed an improvement that prevented ballast, gravel and stones from shooting into the crew area during a derailment. It was known as the Hunt Cab.
"The old cab, which jutted out to one side and had a door facing the front of the engine, would in effect scoop up the railway line ballast directly into the cab compartment," said his daughter, Lynn BEACH.
During the course of his career, Mr. HUNT was always moving. He spent a lot of time shuffling between jobs in Toronto and at C.N. headquarters in Montreal and also lived in many cities, from Battle Creek, Michigan., where he ran CN's Grand Trunk Western subsidiary, to Belleville, Ontario
He loved gardening and planted trees wherever he lived. Mr. HUNT was also a keen golfer, with a powerful swing that could drive a ball 300 yards, but never joined a golf club because he was seldom in one place long enough.
A more portable hobby was his Corvair Corsa, the troubled, rear-engined Chevrolet that inspired Ralph Nader's 1965 book Unsafe at Any Speed. Mr. HUNT babied his Corvair for decades, and never lost control of the quirky car.
Keith Elmore HUNT was born on September 12, 1923, in Frome, Ontario He died of complications from a fall on April 21, 2008, at Toronto. He was 84. He is survived by his wife, Marion, and his daughters, Lynn, Dawn and Victoria.

  L... Names     LA... Names     LAN... Names     Welcome Home

LANGAN o@ca.on.york_county.toronto.globe_and_mail 2008-07-26 published
Bob MacGREGOR, 74: Broadcaster
By F.F. LANGAN, Special to The Globe and Mail, Page S15
Bob MacGREGOR was perhaps the best-known overnight voice to be heard reading the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation radio news in the past decade. And that, even though he worked only three nights a week - Friday, Saturday and Sunday.
Out of the studio, Mr. MacGREGOR was a man who could not be pigeon-holed. A lover of classical music and opera, he was also a car nut who early in life stuffed a V-8 engine into an MG sports car. He was a dedicated poker player, too: "I remember Bob MacGREGOR sitting down at the Montreal press club one night in the seventies and saying with a straight face: 'I must warn you. I can only stay until 9 in the morning,' " a friend recalled.
The son of Scottish immigrants, he grew up in Toronto. He worked as a copy boy at The Globe and Mail while still at high school, and later studied broadcasting at what was then Ryerson Polytechnic. He then followed the usual pattern of working in small radio stations before landing a job at Canadian Broadcasting Corporation Montreal.
At one stage he started a program called RPM, a show that specialized in cars. It gave him a chance to test cars he would otherwise never drive. One of them was a Rolls.
"Bob had the Rolls for a road test. But we drove it to Watkins Glen [N.Y.] for one of their Grand Prix races," said his friend Lionel Birnbom. "Rolls Royce was more than a little surprised to find more than 1,000 miles on the brand-new car after three days."
As a reporter, he covered a number of news events around Montreal, including Expo 67, for which he was awarded a Centennial Medal. He also reported on many elections for Canadian Broadcasting Corporation radio and served as a commentator on the 1973 election in which Quebec Liberal leader Robert Bourassa won a landslide victory. Along the way, Mr. MacGREGOR came up with the idea for the Quebec Community network, broadcasting to smaller, sometimes isolated, English-speaking communities in Quebec. The network still exists.
By that time he had left the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation and started a company which did everything from publish a magazine called Canadian Motorsport Bulletin to produce radio programs which specialized in cars and racing. To help make ends meet, he did voice-over work and acted in a few movies.
Mr. McGREGOR returned to the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation more than once. In the late seventies, he was rehired as a public-relations manager and then gave up the job only to rejoin the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation about 10 years later - again in public-relations.
Although Mr. MacGREGOR was a hard worker, there were aspects of public-relations life he didn't like. His son, Alex MacGREGOR, said he remembered his father complaining that he had to spend a day looking after pop star René Simard and then spend that night drinking with Al Waxman, the star of the show King of Kensington.
In 1996, Mr. MacGREGOR retired from his publicity job at the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. He soon became bored and asked if he could read the overnight news. Because of the hours - 9 p.m. to 5 a.m. on weekends - it was a job few wanted. He usually arrived a early to write his newscasts. "He was a stickler for grammar and language," said his son Alex. "He loved Canada, and he loved the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, and reading those newscasts gave him a window on the country."
Robert Bertram MacGREGOR was born August 16, 1933, in Toronto. He died May 31, 2008, in Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario He was 74. He is survived by his sons, Alex and William.

  L... Names     LA... Names     LAN... Names     Welcome Home

LANGAN - All Categories in OGSPI

LAN surnames continued to 08lan004.htm