Barry Broadfoot Creates Endowment to Support Future Journalists

January 9, 2000 - 4:00pm

The Underwood typewriter he once used for his books and newspaper columns is going the way of the spotted owl, but Barry Broadfoot figures there'll always be a need for journalists, even in a world of word processors and web pages.

So Broadfoot and his wife, Lori, have donated $20,000 to create an endowment fund for journalists at Malaspina University-College in Nanaimo. Matched by the provincial government, the endowment will create annual awards in journalism and creative non-fiction.

“It appears to me that journalism in B.C. has been neglected as a recipient of funds,” says Broadfoot, who began his own newspaper career at the now-defunct Winnipeg Tribune in 1942. “It doesn't get any respect.”

Broadfoot spent 30 years in the newspaper business, with time out for service in the Second World War. He wrote for papers in Edmonton, Calgary, Montreal, Toronto, and specially Vancouver, where he worked as reporter, city editor and features writer for the Vancouver Sun.

In 1972 he quit the Sun to write “Ten Lost Years”, an account of the experiences of ordinary Canadians during the Great Depression of the 1930s. The book hit the bestseller list and was the first of 20 books written by Broadfoot, mainly works of modern Canadian history based on interviews with the people who had lived through it.

In 1981 he began a weekly column with the Nanaimo Daily News (then known as the Daily Free Press), a pot-stirring collection of controversial commentary ending each week with the signature line “and let the wind blow.” He retired the column in 1998 due to ill health.

Despite the changes he has seen and the changes still on the horizon, Broadfoot says journalism is still really the same as it has always been.

“It's communication—getting the facts to the people and getting them right,” he says. “It's a badge of honor.”

His advice to the aspiring journalists who might receive one of the scholarships? Polonius had it right in Hamlet: To thine own self be true.

“Write what you see,” says the reporter who has seen it all.


Contact: Roger Prior, (250) 740-6212.

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