William Weintraub

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William Weintraub
Born(1926-02-19)February 19, 1926
DiedNovember 6, 2017(2017-11-06) (aged 91)
Montreal, Quebec
Alma materMcGill University
Occupationfilm producer, script writer, novelist
AwardsOrder of Canada

William Weintraub, OC (February 19, 1926 – November 6, 2017) was a Canadian journalist, author, filmmaker and lecturer, known for his long association with Canada's National Film Board (NFB).[1]

Born and educated in Montreal, Weintraub graduated from McGill University where he had worked on the McGill Daily. He began his career as a reporter at The Montreal Gazette in the 1950s, later moving to Weekend magazine. His experience in journalism provided the basis for Weintraub's 1961 novel Why Rock the Boat? and his 2001 memoir Getting Started.[1] Among Weintraub's contemporaries and friends were authors Mordecai Richler, Mavis Gallant, Norman Levine and Brian Moore.[2]

Weintraub's satirical 1979 novel The Underdogs provoked controversy by imagining a future socialist republic of Quebec, in which English-speakers were an oppressed minority, complete with a violent resistance movement. One planned stage version was cancelled before its premiere, but another version was later a hit at the Just For Laughs festival.[2]

In a film career spanning decades, Weintraub was involved with more than 150 NFB productions, serving variously as writer, producer and director. Productions ranged from Canada: Beef Cattle to historical documentaries to a portrait of Canadian writer Margaret Laurence. His 1993 documentary The Rise and Fall of English Montreal dealt with the second large Quebec diaspora that began in the 1960s and accelerated rapidly after the 1976 Quebec election.[1] The National Post wrote that he said that Torontonians should express their gratitude to a major benefactor of the city and erect a very large heroic statue at the head of Bay Street of former Premier of Quebec René Lévesque.[3]

Weintraub published four books after his seventieth birthday including City Unique (1996), an exploration of English Montreal in the 1940s and 1950s, which received the QSPELL Prize for Non-Fiction from the Quebec Writers' Federation Awards.[2]

In 2003, he was made an Officer of the Order of Canada.[2]


  • Why Rock the Boat?: A Novel (1961)
  • The Underdogs (1979)
  • City Unique: Montreal Days and Nights in the 1940s and '50s (1996)
  • The Underdogs: A Play (1998)
  • Getting Started: A Memoir of the 1950s (2001)
  • Crazy About Lili (2005)



  1. ^ a b c Hustak, Alan (November 8, 2017). "Witty writer William Weintraub had a 'talent for friendship'". The Globe and Mail. Retrieved November 11, 2017.
  2. ^ a b c d Brownstein, Bill (November 8, 2017). "William Weintraub, Montreal writer, filmmaker, historian". Montreal Gazette. Retrieved November 8, 2017.
  3. ^ Robert Fulford, "Thank you, Montreal! Thank you, René!". National Post, November 18, 2006.

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