Mark Bourrie

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Mark Bourrie is an award-winning Canadian journalist, author, historian, and lecturer at Carleton University and the University of Ottawa. He is the author of several books, including the best-selling The Fog of War (2011), By Reason of Insanity: The David Michael Krueger Story (1997), Flim Flam (1998), and Many a Midnight Ship (2005). His work has also appeared in magazines and newspapers, including Toronto Life, Canadian Business, The Globe and Mail, The Toronto Star, and Huffington Post Canada.[1] He currently is a partner in the online newspaper Blacklock's Reporter, writes a popular Canadian political blog for Ottawa Magazine (part of St. Joseph Communications) and opinion pieces and features for the National Post.


Bourrie earned his BA in History at the University of Waterloo in 1990. He holds a diploma in public policy and administration from the University of Guelph, a Master's degree in journalism from Carleton University and a doctorate in Canadian media history at the University of Ottawa. His doctoral thesis was on the press censorship system in Canada in the Second World War and was published by Douglas & McIntyre of Vancouver in July 2011, as The Fog of War. His master's thesis was on the media's role in banning cannabis in Canada and was published in 2004 by Key Porter as Hemp. His public policy and administration research focused on Canada's security intelligence agencies.

Journalism career[edit]

Before beginning a career in journalism, Bourrie worked in remote areas of Canada for the Canadian Pacific Railway. He worked as a forest fire fighter in northern Ontario in 1981.[2] Bourrie was a summer student reporter at The Hamilton Spectator and The London Free Press and a student reporter at The Globe and Mail before taking a job on The Toronto Sun in 1979 as assistant business editor and news reporter. He worked for two decades as a freelance news and feature writer, primarily for The Globe and Mail from 1981 to 1989 and the Toronto Star from 1989 to 1999 and again in 2009-2010. He was Parliamentary correspondent for the Law Times from 1994 until 2006. He also wrote for the InterPress Service, the United Nations-sponsored news and feature service. By the late 1990s, he had branched out from newspaper freelance work to book and magazine writing.

Bourrie won a National Magazine Award (NMA) in 1999 and honorable mentions in 2000 and 2003, in the Social Affairs category.[3] In 2004, he was nominated for a Canadian Association of Journalists (CAJ) award for an article about the Depression-era execution in Ottawa of a man who was probably innocent. The article was researched entirely in the National Archives of Canada. He won a Canadian Archaeological Association public writing award (1989) and several Ontario Newspaper Awards (formerly Western Ontario Newspaper Awards). He also won the Ontario Community Canadian Newspaper Award for columnist of the year in 2008. His 1979 eyewitness account of an F4 tornado in Woodstock, Ontario, helped earn his newspaper, The London Free Press, a National Newspaper Award nomination. Most of his NMA-nominated work focused on issues related to people wrongly accused of criminal offences or terrorism. He has been a member of the Canadian Parliamentary Press Gallery since 1994.

In 2012 Bourrie stated that the Chinese government-owned Xinhua News Agency asked him to collect information on the Dalai Lama by exploiting his journalistic access to the Parliament of Canada.[4][5] Bourrie stated that he was asked to write for Xinhua in 2009 and sought advice from the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS), but was ignored. Bourrie stated that at that point he refused to continue to write articles for Xinhua and gave the agency no information about the Dalai Lama.

In the fall of 2012, he and several other Parliament Hill journalists started the online publication Blacklock's Reporter, a paywall-funded daily news report (see The publication concentrates on news that is normally missed by media that focuses on partisan politics.


Bourrie lectures in History at Carleton University and Canadian Studies at the University of Ottawa. From 2007 to 2009, he was a lecturer at Concordia University's journalism school, teaching reporting, criticism and media history. He is also a lecturer at the Department of National Defence (Canada) School of Public Affairs, specializing in the history and practice of propaganda and censorship, and was a consultant to the Canadian War Museum for a recent show on war propaganda art. He has also written on the media relations strategy of William Lyon Mackenzie King.


Ninety Fathoms Down (1995) was Canada's first collection of Great Lakes ship stories. Bourrie's Master's thesis was published by Key Porter as Hemp in 2004. His book on David Michael Krueger, a serial killer held in a psychiatric hospital in Ontario, was published in 1997 as By Reason of Insanity and was excerpted by several major Canadian newspapers. Bourrie's tenth book, adapted from his PhD thesis,The Fog of War, was published in July, 2011 by Douglas & McIntyre after the original publisher, Key Porter, ceased operations in January, 2011. It reached sixth on Maclean's magazine non-fiction bestseller list on Sept. 1.[6][7] His collection of Canada's best war correspondence, Fighting Words, came out in the fall of 2012. In 2013, HarperCollins announced they had signed a contract with Bourrie for a book on Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper's government's information control, called Kill the Messengers: Stephen Harper's Assault on Your Right to Know, which will be published in January, 2015. Previously, the book was under contract to Thomas Allen and Sons but was dropped before the company was sold to Dundurn Press [8]

Personal life[edit]

Bourrie was born in Toronto and raised on the Georgian Bay area of Ontario but now lives in Ottawa. He is married to lawyer Marion Van de Wetering, who is author of two regional history books, An Ottawa Album (1999) and A Kingston Album (2000). Bourrie is a fossil hunter, collector, and amateur paleontologist, specializing in trilobites.

His family, the Bourés, originally settled in Charlesbourg, Quebec in the 1660s and he is descended from King's Daughters Anne Marie Bellehache[9] A close relative, Joseph Bourret, served as mayor of Montreal and in the Union government of Lafontaine-Baldwin. He was Quebec's first francophone banker.[10] Through his mother's family, the Gilmans of Exeter, New Hampshire, Bourrie is a distant cousin of Abraham Lincoln and presidents George H. W. Bush and George W. Bush, and more closely related to Constitution signer Nicholas Gilman and 1848 Democratic presidential candidate Lewis Cass. They are all descended from Edward Gilman of Hingham, Norfolk, England, whose son, Edward Gilman immigrated with his brother-in-law Samuel Lincoln and the rest of the Hingham Puritans to found Hingham, Mass., in the 1630s.[11][12][13] Bourrie's interest in shipwrecks was kindled by family stories of the loss of four of his paternal grandfather's cousins on the Sand Merchant on Lake Erie near Cleveland in 1936.[10]


  • Chicago of the North. Annan and Sons, 1993.
  • Ninety Fathoms Down. Toronto: Dundurn, 1995.
  • The Parliament Buildings. Toronto: Dundurn, 1996.
  • By Reason of Insanity: The David Michael Krueger Story. Toronto: Dundurn, 1997.
  • Flim Flam. Toronto: Dundurn, 1998.
  • Parliament. Toronto: Key Porter, 1999. (text to Malak Karsh's photo essay on Parliament Hill)
  • Hemp. Toronto: Key Porter, 2004.
  • True Canadian Stories of the Great Lakes. Toronto: Key Porter/Prospero, 2005.
  • Many a Midnight Ship. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press/Toronto: Key Porter, 2005.
  • The Fog of War. Vancouver, Douglas & McIntyre, 2011.
  • Fighting Words: Canada's Best War Reporting. Toronto: Dundurn, 2012
  • Kill the Messengers: Stephen Harper's Assault on Your Right to Know. Toronto: HarperCollins Canada, 2015


External links[edit]