Pierre Berton Author

November 30, 2011 by staff 

Pierre Berton Author, Prolific Canadian author and broadcaster Pierre Berton has died at the age of 84.  Berton died at Toronto’s Sunnybrook Hospital Tuesday. His longtime friend and associate Elsa Franklin said he had congestive heart failure and diabetes. “On a personal level I’ve lost a best friend,” his friend, author June Callwood, told CTV. “On a national level, the whole country has lost a best friend.”

The bow tie-loving Berton was born in 1920 and raised in the Yukon. He worked in Klondike mining camps during his university years before beginning a newspaper career in Vancouver.

At the age of 31, he was named managing editor of Maclean’s. In 1957, he became a key member of the CBC’s public affairs flagship program, Close-Up, and a permanent panelist on the long-running Front Page Challenge.

He joined The Toronto Star as associate editor in 1958, leaving in 1962 to commence The Pierre Berton Show, which ran until 1973.

Berton’s first important book was The Mysterious North in 1956, followed by Klondike in 1958, a narrative of the Klondike Gold Rush of 1898. Berton did not return to book writing for many years as he busied himself with his broadcasting career.

In 1970, he resumed work as a historian, penning The National Dream about the building of the Canadian Pacific Railway. That was followed by The Last Spike the following year. Both were made into TV mini-series.

He went on to write more than 40 books over his career, most recently returning to his roots with Prisoners of the North.

Readers loved his gift for story-telling, the colorful personalities he presented and the way he made Canadian history both accessible and fascinating.

Gov. Gen. Adrienne Clarkson said Berton “was the most remarkable writer of Canadian historical events in the last 50 years.

“So much of our nationhood and our collective identity as Canadians were created by him,” she said.

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