Renowned Canadian Journalist Peter C. Newman Dies at 94


Peter C. Newman, a seasoned journalist, author, and truth-teller to his beloved Canada, has passed away at the venerable age of 94. His death was the result of complex health issues stimulated by a stroke he suffered last year, which consequently led to the development of Parkinson’s disease. His wife, Alvy Newman, confirmed the unfortunate news in a poignant telephone conversation.

Reflecting on her husband’s significant impact, Alvy asserts, “It’s a formidable loss for Canada. His match is nowhere to be found. Who is there that embodies an author and a journalist that can depict Canada to its own people?”

Newman’s illustrious career is a testament to his dedication. Serving as editor-in-chief for both the Toronto Star and Maclean’s, he expertly navigated the intricate terrains of Canadian politics and business. He was easily spotted with his signature sailor’s cap, and his pen birthed roughly twenty-four books. This prolific output and his keen insight earned him the status of Canada’s “most cussed and discussed commentator,” a label ascribed by the publishing company, HarperCollins.

Paul Wells, a political columnist and previous senior writer at Maclean’s, admired the remarkable work Newman accomplished. In his words, “The Maclean’s that I worked at was still essentially Peter’s model for what Maclean’s should be and could be.” He extolled Newman for establishing a blueprint for Canadian political authors and credited him with demonstrating that Canadian stories had as much value and potency as tales from any part of the world.

Of the many contributions he made to Canadian literature, Newman’s three-book series, ‘The Canadian Establishment’, wholesomely narrated Canada’s recent history through the experiences of its unelected power figures. Newman also gave readers insights into his own life in his 2004 autobiography, “Here Be Dragons: Telling Tales of People, Passion and Power.”

Born in Vienna in 1929, Newman sought refuge in Canada in 1940, escaping the anti-Semitism rampant in his homeland. His journey and experiences as a Jewish refugee significantly influenced his identity and aspirations, ultimately inspiring his exceptional writing career.

The Writers’ Trust of Canada acknowledged Newman’s pivotal influence, noting that his book “Renegade in Power: The Diefenbaker Years” revolutionized Canadian political reporting with its controversial ‘insiders-tell-all’ approach.

The country honoured Newman’s various contributions by appointing him to the Order of Canada in 1978, and later promoting him to the rank of companion in 1990. His knack for translating the past, interpreting the present, and transforming Canadian narratives into engaging tales made him a beloved figure.

Aside from his prolific career as a journalist and author, Newman held a deep commitment to nurturing future writers’in the craft of creative non-fiction as a professor at the University of Victoria. His works garnered him many prestigious literary awards and seven honorary doctorates.

Reflecting on the vast knowledge her husband carried, Alvy Newman mournfully expressed that his loss felt like a “library burnt down.” She spoke proudly of the exceptional strides her husband had made in the fields of journalism, business, and history.

On a personal note, she fondly remembered her husband’s sharp wit, generosity, and love for the absurd. She mused, “I think that’s what brought us together. We both had the love of the absurd. We could just find the humour in anything.” This love, intertwined with a shared sense of humour, is a testament to their bond.


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