A Canadian legend who grew up in Chilliwack passed away Aug. 19 at the age of 87.
Allan Fotheringham was best known as a columnist for MacLeans magazine, where he riled people up for 27 years.
But before he became one of the most well-known and most controversial opinion writers in the country, his first works were published in the pages of the Chilliwack Progress.
As a teenager, Fotheringham wrote a piece called ‘Highschool Highlights,’ which impressed publisher Les Barber.
His first byline appeared in the Oct. 25, 1950 issue as he chronicled life at Chilliwack High School.
“The cafeteria is probably the busiest room in the school and is in demand every noon-hour,” he wrote. “Miss McKechney and her Fold Dancing club use it, and table-tennis enthusiasts under Mr. Carroll find recreation there. Four new tables will soon be set up to satisfy the demands of several dozen students who would like to play.”
When he released his memoirs in 2011, titled ‘Boy from Nowhere: A Life in Ninety-One Countries, Fotheringham remembered his big break in journalism.
“Your paper gave me my first real start, the first time I got paid,” Fotheringham recalled.
Fotheringham moved to Chilliwack when he was 10 years old, relocating from the tiny Saskatchewan town of Hearne in 1942.
Of his place of birth, Fotheringham often wrote that Hearne “was so small it couldn’t afford a village idiot. Everyone had to take turns.”
His family settled into the Edenbank area of Chilliwack and he appeared in the pages of the Chilliwack Progress many times as a star athlete in track and field and basketball.
Former Chilliwack Progress editor Lloyd Mackey said Fotheringham’s mother, Edna, was “quite active in the Sardis community.”
“She was choir leader at Carmen United Church, among other things,” he said.
Fotheringham’s early experiences writing for The Progress provided a foundation for what followed.
He became a star writing columns for the Vancouver Sun, where he didn’t hesitate to hold those in power accountable. He was especially adept at assigning nicknames. Former Canadian Prime Minister Brian Mulroney, for example, was dubbed ‘The Jaw that walks like a man,’ while another former PM, Joe Clark, earned the unfortunate moniker Jurassic Clark.
His abrasive style earned him legal troubles from time to time. He once claimed to have been sued for libel 26 times.
But he never backed down from anything he put on paper. In addition to hundreds of columns, Fotheringham wrote nine books and in 1999 he was inducted into the Canadian News Hall of Fame. In 2002 he was given the Bruce Hutchison Lifetime Achievement Award by the Jack Webster Foundation.
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