Gordon Donaldson (journalist)

Last updated

Gordon Donaldson
Born18 August 1926
Glasgow, Scotland
Toronto, Ontario
OccupationJournalist, historian, author

Archibald Gordon Clark Donaldson (18 August 1926 – June 2001) was a Scottish-Canadian [1] author and journalist. He appeared on television and also produced television programming.


Early life

Donaldson was born in Glasgow. He went to school until he was 16 and then worked for the Ardrossan and Saltcoats Herald. In 1944 he joined the British Army. [2] Donaldson explained his ambitions by saying, "I became a reporter at 16 and never wanted to be anything else, except a foreign correspondent." [3]


The Prime Ministers of Canada. DonaldsonPrimeMinisters.jpg
The Prime Ministers of Canada.

During the close of World War II, Donaldson worked for the British Intelligence Corps. He did much reporting on anti-Semitism in Germany after the war. [1] After immigrating to Canada with his wife Nina in 1954, Donaldson took up a job at the newspaper Toronto Telegram , and indeed one of his obituaries recalls him as having worked for the paper "during the wild circulation wars with the Toronto Star in the 1950s and 1960s." [3] As part of that competition between the papers, in 1955, under the auspices of the Toronto Telegram Donaldson built the first fallout shelter in Canada and lived in it for two days while the Telegram published articles about it. [4] Between 1963 and 1966 he was based in Washington, D.C. while working for the Toronto Telegram, and while in Texas the United States Secret Service restrained him for coming too near U.S. President Lyndon B. Johnson. [3] Donaldson began working for the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation in 1966. In his work for the CBC, Donaldson covered space exploration, including the visits to the Moon. Afterwards, he worked for CTV television and was featured on the television series W-FIVE . [1]

As a television producer, Donaldson's credits included The Military Man (1970) on the Canadian Forces during the Pearson-Trudeau years. He also produced a documentary on Vladimir Lenin. [2]

Donaldson's written works include histories such as Battle for a Continent. His biographies on the Prime Ministers of Canada, contained in a single volume, was published in 1969 under the title Fifteen Men. With continual updates starting in 1975, it eventually had to be renamed Sixteen Men and Eighteen Men. It was finally titled The Prime Ministers of Canada after Kim Campbell became Canada's first woman prime minister. As Donaldson said in his 1993 preface, "Twenty Persons didn't have the same ring to it." [5]

One critic recommended The Prime Ministers of Canada for students, saying it was "straightforward and thoroughly enjoyable," and "accessible and helpful." [6] Canadian humourist Will Ferguson, in his book Bastards & Boneheads, cited Donaldson's book on the prime ministers as one of the two "most rewarding" sources on prime ministers, along with Michael Bliss' Right Honourable Men. However, Ferguson gave some criticism, in that Donaldson allegedly used "the word 'squaw'" more than once, which was "somewhat disturbing." [7]

In 1984, Donaldson became president of the Toronto Press Club and also worked for its News Hall of Fame. [3] In the latter position in 1999, he added Conrad Black to the Hall of Fame, being quoted by the press as saying that Black "opened a new page in Canadian journalism history, when he launched a national daily newspaper [The National Post ] to flourish from coast to coast." [8] In 2001 the media also reported Donaldson's addition of Tara Singh Hayer to the Hall of Fame. [9] Donaldson also wrote an autobiography. However, at the time of his death it was not published. [3]

Related Research Articles

Scott Young (writer) Canadian writer

Scott Alexander Young was a Canadian journalist, sportswriter, novelist and the father of musicians Neil Young and Astrid Young. Over his career, Young wrote 45 books, including novels and non-fiction for adult and youth audiences.

Peter Warren is a Canadian investigative journalist, private investigator, former talk radio host and member of the Canadian Association of Broadcasters' Hall of Fame.

John Baird (Canadian politician) Canadian retired politician

John Russell Baird is a Canadian retired politician. He served as Minister of Foreign Affairs from 2011 to 2015 in the cabinet of Prime Minister Stephen Harper. He had been a member of the federal cabinet, in various positions, since 2006. Previously he was a provincial cabinet minister in Ontario during the governments of Premiers Mike Harris and Ernie Eves. Baird resigned from Harper's cabinet on February 3, 2015, and as a Member of Parliament on March 16, 2015.

<i>Toronto Telegram</i>

The Toronto Evening Telegram was a conservative, broadsheet afternoon newspaper published in Toronto from 1876 to 1971. It had a reputation for supporting the Conservative Party at the federal and the provincial levels. The paper competed with a newspaper supporting the Liberal Party of Ontario: The Toronto Star. The Telegram strongly supported Canada's connection with the United Kingdom and the rest of the British Empire as late as in the 1960s.

William Stener Ferguson is a Canadian travel writer and novelist who won the Scotiabank Giller Pize for his novel 419.

CBC News English-language news division of the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation

CBC News is the division of the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation responsible for the news gathering and production of news programs on the corporation's English-language operations, namely CBC Television, CBC Radio, CBC News Network, and CBC.ca. Founded in 1941, CBC News is the largest news broadcaster in Canada and has local, regional and national broadcasts and stations. It frequently collaborates with its French-language counterpart, Radio-Canada Info, although the two are organizationally separate.

George Gross, O.Ont was a Slovak-born Canadian sport journalist and soccer executive. He worked for several newspapers, most notably the Toronto Sun. He was a co-founder of the Eastern Canada Professional Soccer League.

Founded by the Toronto Press Club in 1965, the Canadian News Hall of Fame honours more than 100 men and women who have made significant contributions to journalism in Canada.

Trent Gardiner Frayne was a Canadian sportswriter whose career stretched over 60 years. Pierre Berton described Frayne as “likely Canada's greatest sportswriter ever."

Kim Campbell 19th Prime Minister of Canada

Avril Phaedra Douglas "Kim" Campbell is a Canadian politician, diplomat, lawyer and writer who served as the 19th prime minister of Canada from June 25 to November 4, 1993. Campbell is the first and only female prime minister of Canada. She was the final Progressive Conservative prime minister.

Jim "Shaky" Hunt was a Canadian sports columnist who spent over 50 years as a journalist and covered the biggest events in sports including the Stanley Cup, the Super Bowl, the Olympics, all of golf's majors and the 1972 Canada-Russia Summit Series. Hunt was known as "Shaky" thanks to his intramural goaltending career at the University of Western Ontario, where he was part of the school's first journalism graduating class, in 1948. Jim Hunt was inducted into the Ontario Sports Hall of Fame in 2004.

Lester B. Pearson 14th Prime Minister of Canada

Lester Bowles Pearson was a Canadian scholar, statesman, soldier, and diplomat, who won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1957 for organizing the United Nations Emergency Force to resolve the Suez Canal Crisis. He was the 14th prime minister of Canada from 1963 to 1968, as the head of two back-to-back Liberal minority governments following elections in 1963 and 1965.

John Downing

John Downing is an author, reporter, editor and columnist, most notably writing for the Toronto Telegram and later the Toronto Sun.

Edward Henry "Ted" Reeve was a multi-sport Canadian athlete and sports journalist. He was on two Grey Cup winning teams as a football player, a Mann Cup championship as a lacrosse player and three Yates Cup championships as a coach for Queen's University. He is a member of Canada's Sports Hall of Fame. As an athlete Reeve was noted for determination and inspiring team-mates. He acquired the nickname "The Moaner" in later years after one of the characters in his newspaper columns, Moaner McGruffery.

Charles Arnold "Arnie" Patterson was a Canadian journalist, public relations professional and broadcaster.

George Anthony is a Canadian entertainment journalist, biographer and television executive.

Jim Coleman (journalist) Canadian sports journalist, writer and press secretary

James Alexander Coleman was a Canadian sports journalist, writer and press secretary. His journalism career began with The Winnipeg Tribune in 1931, and included tenures with The Province and The Globe and Mail. He became Canada's first national print syndication sports columnist in 1950, writing for The Canadian Press and Southam Newspapers. He also appeared as a radio sports commentator and hosted The Jim Coleman Show on CBC Television, and served as press secretary for the Ontario Jockey Club and Stampede Park in Calgary. His father was D'Alton Corry Coleman, a former journalist and later president of the Canadian Pacific Railway. While travelling about North America to sporting events as a youth with his father, Coleman developed a lifelong love of horse racing, Canadian football and ice hockey.

Jim Proudfoot (journalist) Canadian sports journalist

James Alan Proudfoot was a Canadian sports journalist. He spent his entire 49-year career with the Toronto Star, and served as the newspaper's sports editor. His columns regularly covered ice hockey, horse racing, figure skating and Canadian football. He was inducted into the Canadian Football Hall of Fame, the Canadian Horse Racing Hall of Fame and the Skate Canada Hall of Fame, and received the Elmer Ferguson Memorial Award from the Hockey Hall of Fame.

Marcel Desjardins (journalist) Canadian journalist, news editor and director

Marcel Desjardins was a Canadian journalist, news editor and director. He was a political correspondent for Le Droit and La Presse, before becoming an editor at Radio-Canada. He later returned to La Presse as the news director, then as the vice-president and assistant editor. He also covered ice hockey and was recognized with the Elmer Ferguson Memorial Award by the Professional Hockey Writers' Association.


  1. 1 2 3 Peter Worthington, "Gordon Donaldson; a literary gem in his prime," Whitehorse Star. Whitehorse, Yukon: 19 June 2001. pg. 7.
  2. 1 2 "Reporter covered 'mun' landings for CBC Television: Glasgow accent: Newsman wrote history books about Canada," National Post . Don Mills, Ontario: 15 June 2001. pg. A.16.
  3. 1 2 3 4 5 "Toronto reporter and writer Gordon Donaldson dies at 74," Expositor, Brantford, Ontario: 12 June 2001, pg. A.24.
  4. "Welcome to our nightmare; Fallout shelters are cobwebbed reminders of the numbing nuclear dread that infected a generation," Toronto Star , 29 August 1999, pg. 1.
  5. Donaldson, Gordon (1994). The Prime Ministers of Canada. Toronto: Doubleday Canada. p. vi. ISBN   978-0-385-25454-0. OCLC   29309906.
  6. Brenda Reed, "The Prime Ministers of Canada," The Manitoba Library Association, Retrieved 3 September 2006.
  7. Ferguson, Will (1999). Bastards and Boneheads: Canada's Glorious Leaders, Past and Present. Vancouver: Douglas & McIntyre. p.  301. ISBN   978-1-55054-737-5. OCLC   44883908.
  8. Natalie Armstrong, "Black, Fotheringham join News Hall of Fame," The Ottawa Citizen , 11 May 1999, pg. A.6.
  9. "Inducted into hall of fame," National Post , 6 January 2001, pg. B.6.