Blatchford on November 21, 2008
Christie Marie Blatchford
May 20, 1951
|Died||February 12, 2020 (aged 68)|
|Alma mater||Ryerson University|
|Occupation||newspaper columnist, writer and broadcaster|
|Toronto Sun, National Post, The Globe and Mail|
(m. 1977; div. 1981)
David Rutherford (div.)
Blatchford was Canada's first female sports columnist, reporting on sports between 1975 and 1977. In her 48 year career she worked for all four Toronto-based newspapers, winning the 1999 National Newspaper Award for column writing. She was inducted into the Canadian News Hall of Fame in 2019. Her book Fifteen Days: Stories of Bravery, Friendship, Life and Death from Inside the New Canadian Army also won the 2008 Governor General's Literary Award in Non-fiction.
Early years and family
Blatchford was born in Rouyn-Noranda, Quebec, the daughter of Kathleen and Ross Blatchford. Her father, who was in the Royal Canadian Air Force during World War II, managed a hockey arena in Noranda. When Blatchford was in grade 11, the family moved to Toronto when her father became manager of the North Toronto Memorial Arena. She attended North Toronto Collegiate Institute, graduating in 1970. She then studied journalism at Ryerson University, and worked for the student paper The Ryersonian. Her nephew is sports reporter Andy Blatchford.
Blatchford had a number of journalists in her family. Her grandfather, Andy Lytle was a sports writer and editor for the Vancouver Sun in the 1920s and again in the 1950s and a sports editor at the Toronto Daily Star in the 1930s and 1940s. Her uncle, Tommy Lytle, was a Toronto Star editor until his retirement in 1974.
Blatchford began working part-time for The Globe and Mail in 1972, while still studying journalism at Ryerson where she graduated at the top of her class. She was hired full-time by the Globe in 1973, working as a general assignment reporter and then as a sports columnist at the paper from 1975 until 1977; she was billed as Canada's first female sports columnist and was at the time one of only six female sports reporters in North America. Displeased when a Globe column was edited against her wishes, she then abruptly jumped to the competing Toronto Star, where she worked as a feature writer from 1977 to 1982, and began covering criminal trials in 1978, a beat she would return to throughout her career.
Looking to transition from a news reporter to a columnist, she proposed a light humour column to the Toronto Sun in 1982, chronicling her new relationship with a younger boyfriend, as well as her interactions with other friends and family. The Sun agreed to the proposal, although at a pay cut from her rate at the Star. Her column was originally in the paper's lifestyle section but moved to the high profile page 5 feature column space previously occupied by Paul Rimstead, following his death in 1987. Blatchford remained at the Sun for 16 years, eventually transitioning back into news reporting and harder news features, by the late 1990s, notably covering high profile trials such as those of Paul Bernardo and Karla Homolka.
In 1998, Blatchford moved to the newly launched National Post. In 1999, she received the National Newspaper Award for column writing. She left the Post to return to The Globe and Mail in 2003, working as a columnist there for eight years.
During four trips to Afghanistan in 2006–07, she reported on the experiences of Canadian soldiers. Based on these experiences, she wrote the book Fifteen Days: Stories of Bravery, Friendship, Life and Death from Inside the New Canadian Army. The book went on to garner the 2008 Governor General's Literary Award in Non-fiction.
She returned once again to the National Post in 2011 and would remain there for the rest of her career. She was also a frequent panelist, commentator, contributor and guest on CFRB radio for several decades.
Blatchford's book Helpless: Caledonia's Nightmare of Fear and Anarchy, and How the Law Failed All of Us, concerning the Grand River land dispute, led to some controversy including several members of the student body of the University of Waterloo protesting her speaking engagement and leading to its being cancelled on grounds of security.
In an article in the National Post online on August 22, 2011, she criticized the outpouring of support resulting from the death of federal NDP Leader and the Parliament of Canada's Leader of the Opposition Jack Layton, calling it "a public spectacle", and referring to Layton's "canonization". This caused an outcry toward Blatchford herself. Blatchford's commentary on the 2013 suicide of Rehtaeh Parsons also led to Parsons' father accusing Blatchford of victim blaming.
In June 2018, Blatchford said of a press subsidy: "God forbid Ottawa should start to subsidize newspapers too. As a journalist, the thought gives me the shudders."
Illness and death
After having to cut short her assignment covering the 2019 federal election campaign due to nagging muscle pain, Blatchford was diagnosed in November 2019 with lung cancer which was found to have metastasized to bones in the spine and hip by the time it was detected. Blatchford was inducted into the Canadian News Hall of Fame the same month, but was unable to attend the ceremony.
She took leave from writing her column and sought treatment at Princess Margaret Cancer Centre where she underwent several months of surgeries, radiation therapy, chemotherapy and immunotherapy. She died in Toronto on February 12, 2020.
In the 1980s, Blatchford published two collections of her humour-oriented Toronto Sun columns.
- Spectator Sports (1986)
- Close Encounters (1988)
Beginning in 2007, Blatchford began publishing book-length non-fiction reportage.
- Fifteen Days: Stories of Bravery, Friendship, Life and Death from Inside the New Canadian Army (2007)
- The Black Hand: The Bloody Rise and Redemption of "Boxer" Enriquez, a Mexican Mob Killer (2008)
- Helpless: Caledonia's Nightmare of Fear and Anarchy, and How the Law Failed All of Us (2010)
- Life Sentence: Stories From Four Decades of Court Reporting - Or, How I Fell Out of Love with the Canadian Justice System (2016)
- Humphreys, Adrian. "Dead at 68: Christie Blatchford was a tenacious voice for victims, a thorn to the smug". National Post (February 12, 2020). Retrieved February 12, 2020.
- "Blatchford Behind the Byline :: Ryerson Review of Journalism :: The Ryerson School of Journalism". Rrj.ca. 1951-05-20. Archived from the original on 2012-03-27. Retrieved 2012-04-06.
- Braun, Liz (February 12, 2020). "Iconic Canadian journalist Christie Blatchford dies at age 68". Toronto Sun. Retrieved February 12, 2020.
- "Foundation News" (PDF). North Toronto Collegiate alumni newsletter.
- "In a lovely land I barely know, my dysfunctional home". Retrieved 2019-11-21.
- Szklarski, Cassandra (February 12, 2020). "Long-time newspaper columnist Christie Blatchford dies at 68". Globe and Mail. Canadian Press. Retrieved February 12, 2020.
- (June 1, 2011). "Journalist Christie Blatchford leaves Globe and Mail for Postmedia", Toronto Star. Retrieved August 24, 2011.
- Blatchford, Christie (June 25, 2011). "Christie Blatchford: Surrounded by our troops, I’ve never felt so alive Archived 2012-07-18 at Archive.today", National Post. Retrieved August 24, 2011.
- (June 1, 2011). "News veteran Christie Blatchford joins Postmedia", CBC News. Retrieved August 24, 2011.
- National Post web site
- Blatchford, Christie (August 22, 2011). "Full Comment: Layton's death turns into a thoroughly public spectacle". National Post. Archived from the original on December 25, 2012. Retrieved August 23, 2011.
- Mac, Amber (August 24, 2011). "Layton’s death reveals the good, the bad and the ugly online", The Globe and Mail. Retrieved August 27, 2011.
- Allison Cross, "‘It’s always about the victim’: Rehtaeh Parsons’ father responds to Christie Blatchford’s column," National Post, February 26, 2013, URL accessed February 26, 2013.
- Blatchford, Christie (29 June 2018). "Mainstream media is starving — but certainly not the CBC". National Post, a division of Postmedia Network Inc.
- Humphreys, Adrian (November 19, 2019). "Truth always, no matter the consequences: Christie Blatchford and Lorrie Goldstein enter news hall of fame". nationalpost.com.
- Humphreys, Adrian (February 12, 2020). "Dead at 68: Christie Blatchford was a tenacious voice for victims, a thorn to the smugly comfortable". nationalpost.com.