Richard Gwyn

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Richard Gwyn
Richard Gwyn at the Eden Mills Writers' Festival in 2012
Gwyn at the Eden Mills Writers' Festival in 2012
Born (1934-05-26) May 26, 1934 (age 85)
Bury St. Edmunds, England
Occupationjournalist, author
Notable worksThe Northern Magus: Pierre Trudeau and Canadians, John A.: The Man Who Made Us, Nation Maker: Sir John A. Macdonald: His Life, Our Times
SpouseSandra Gwyn (1958-2000, her death)
Carol Bishop-Gwyn (2005-present)

Richard John Philip Jermy Gwyn, OC (born May 26, 1934) is a retired Canadian journalist, author, historian, and former civil servant.

Early life[edit]

Richard Gwyn was born on May 26, 1934, in Bury St. Edmunds, England. He was the second son to Brigadier Philip Eustace Congreve Jermy-Gwyn, an Indian Army officer, and Elizabeth Edith Jermy-Gwyn (née Tilley), eldest daughter of Sir John Anthony Cecil Tilley. His older brother died at infancy.

At the age of 20, in 1954, he emigrated to Canada.


Gwyn was educated at Stonyhurst College, a co-educational Roman Catholic School in Lancashire, England. Gwyn also attended the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst.


From 1957 to 1959, Gwyn was the parliamentary correspondent for United Press International. Later in 1959 to 1960, he worked for Thomson Newspapers. From 1960 to 1962, he was the Ottawa editor for Maclean-Hunter Business Publications. From 1962 to 1968, he worked for Time Canada as a parliamentary correspondent and contributing editor. From 1968 to 1970, he was the executive assistant to the Minister of Communications, Eric Kierans. From 1970 to 1973, he was the director-general, socio-economic planning in the Department of Communications.

In 1973, Gwyn joined The Toronto Star and worked as a national affairs columnist until 1985. He then became an international affairs columnist later that year until 1992. He continued to write columns on public affairs for the Star, on a freelance basis, until 2016.[1]

As an author, he is best known for his 1980 contemporary biography of Pierre Elliot Trudeau, The Northern Magus, and for a two-volume historical biography of Sir John A. Macdonald.[2] The first volume of his Macdonald biography, The Man Who Made Us, won the Charles Taylor Prize for Literary Non-Fiction in 2008. The second volume, Nation Maker: Sir John A. Macdonald: His Life, Our Times; Volume Two: 1867-1891, won the Shaughnessy Cohen Prize for Political Writing in 2012 and was a finalist for the Governor General's Award for English-language non-fiction and the Hilary Weston Writers' Trust Prize for Nonfiction.[3]

From 1983 to 1987 he and Robert Fulford co-hosted the long-form interview show Realities on TVOntario. Gwyn also appeared weekly as a panelist from 1994 to 2006 on TVO's Studio 2 and Diplomatic Immunity and was an occasional guest on The Agenda until 2017.

Later life[edit]

Four years after emigrating to Canada, Gwyn married Sandra Gwyn in 1958. Their marriage lasted till her death on May 26, 2000, due to breast cancer. Gwyn subsequently remarried to Carol Bishop-Gwyn, and after residing in the Cabbagetown neighbourhood of Toronto, he moved with his wife into a condominium in the Lawrence Park neighbourhood.

On November 29, 2001, Gwyn was appointed chancellor of St. Jerome's University at the University of Waterloo and was installed on March 17, 2002. The same year, he became an Officer of the Order of Canada.

Gwyn ceased writing his column in 2016 and made his last appearance as a television panelist in 2017. He has been living with Alzheimer's disease for several years and is currently residing at Dunfield Retirement Residence, an assisted living facility in midtown Toronto.[2]

Major works[edit]

  • The Shape of Scandal: A Study of a Government in Crisis. 1965.
  • Smallwood, The Unlikely Revolutionary. 1965.
  • The Northern Magus: Pierre Trudeau and Canadians, McClelland & Stewart, Toronto, 1980.
  • The 49th Paradox: Canada in North America. 1985.
  • Nationalism Without Walls. 1995.
  • John A.: The Man Who Made Us. 2007.
  • Nation Maker: Sir John A. Macdonald: His Life, Our Times (reprint ed.). Random House of Canada. 2011. ISBN 978-0-3073-5645-1.


  1. ^
  2. ^ a b Paikin, Steve (June 17, 2019). "One of Canada's greatest journalists is losing his battle with Alzheimer's". tvo. TVOntario. Retrieved June 18, 2019.
  3. ^ "Richard Gwyn biography of Sir John A. Macdonald wins Shaughnessy book prize". Huffington Post. Canadian Press. April 25, 2012. Retrieved June 18, 2019.

External links[edit]