In Honour of Bruce Hutchison
“From the 1940’s to the 1980’s Hutchison [has] been one of the leading opinion makers in the country, through his newspaper and periodical writing, and often through his books…
His opinions were widely cited, sometimes on the floor of the House of Commons, and once, in 1952, the members of the B.C. Legislature were so outraged by one of his opinions in the Victoria Times that they came within a few votes of summoning his publisher before the bar of the House to apologize. Hutchison responded by reprinting the offending editorial on the front page, just in case anyone missed it the first time, and in a follow-up piece he congratulated the legislators on having so narrowly avoided making themselves look “ridiculous.” (The offending editorial was one of a series that won its author the National Newspaper Award for 1952)
Vaughn Palmer, from the introduction, To Canada with Love and Some Misgivings
Local Journalist Recognized
Bruce Hutchison, who died at age 91 in 1992, was one of Canada’s most respected journalists and political commentators. Editor of the Victoria Times from 1950 to 1963, he was also the author of 17 books.
Bruce Hutchison divided his time between a home on Rogers Avenue in Saanich and a cottage facing Shawnigan Lake. His deep appreciation of nature at these locations, and wilderness life in general, is reflected in his autobiographical writings and novels.
Highlights of Bruce Hutchison’s career include:
- 1918 – contributor of the Victoria Times while still in high school, leading to full time employment as legislative reporter
- 1925 – assigned to Ottawa as political reporter
- 1937 – on assignment in London, he visited Germany just prior to the war
- 1938-44 – editorial writer and columnist on the Vancouver Sun
- 1944-50 – assistant editor of the Winnipeg Free Press
- 1950-63 – editor of the Victoria Times
- 1963-79 – Vancouver Sun editorial director
Mr. Hutchison continued to live in Victoria while working for the newspapers in Winnipeg and Vancouver.
After retirement he was appointed Editor Emeritus of the Sun and continued writing columns until just before his death. In the course of his career, Bruce Hutchison developed friendships with and was consulted by political personalities including Lester Pearson, Louis St. Laurent, Pierre Trudeau, and Brian Mulroney.
Bruce Hutchison’s venture from journalist into book writing came about through a bold decision. While on business in New York, he agreed to a suggestion that he write a book about Canada for Americans. During the trip back to Montreal, he realized the immensity of the task.
That quick deal resulted in The Unknown country which, to his surprise, sold very well. In 1943 it won the Governor General’s award for non-fiction, and is still in print after several revisions. The book presents a panorama of Canada, containing vivid and delightful descriptions of place and personality.
In the 1920’s Hutchison wrote many stories for American pulp magazines and one, ‘Park Avenue Logger’, became a Hollywood film. He published a novel, The Hollow Men, in 1944, about a disillusioned newspaper correspondent. Later in life he returned to fiction, with Uncle Percy’s Wonderful Town (1981), nostalgic stories based on small towns in B.C., and The Cub Reporter Learns a Thing or Two. (1991)
In addition to The Unknown country, Hutchison’s political and historical books are:
- The Fraser (1950) — in the Rivers of America series. [971.1 HUT]
- The Incredible Canadian: a candid portrait of Mackenzie King (1952) — [923.271 KIN]
- The Struggle for the Border (1955) — [327.71 H978s]
- Canada, Tomorrow’s Giant (1957) — [917.1 H978]
- Mr. Prime Minister: 1867 – 1964 (1964) — [354.71 HUT] also condensed as Macdonald to Pearson: the prime ministers of Canada (1967) [923.271 HUT]
- the text for Canada: a year of the land, the National Film Board’s centennial book of photographs(1967) [1917.1 C212cy]
- The Unfinished Country: to Canada with love and some misgivings (1985) — [971.0646 HUT]
- The Far Side of the Street (1976) — [928.1854 HUT]
- A Life in the Country (1988) [928.1854 HUT]
- Western Windows (1967) — a collection of essays [819.45 H978]
- To Canada With Love and Some Misgivings: the best of Bruce Hutchison, ed. by Vaughn Palmer (1991) — a collection of short non-fiction [818.54 HUT]
Bruce Hutchison was born in Prescott, Ontario at his mother’s family home, but was soon taken to B.C., growing up in Cranbrook, Merritt, and Victoria.
His wife Dorothy died in 1969 and his daughter Joan in 1985. Mr. Hutchison is survived by his son Robert, a B.C. Supreme Court justice, and grandchildren.
In 1990 Mr. Hutchison was made a Freeman of the Municipality of Saanich, the highest honour that a municipality can bestow. A few months before his death in 1992, Bruce Hutchison was informed by Saanich Council about the decision to name the Library Branch after him. Since his honours and awards have been received frequently only from more distant points, his son has noted that Bruce Hutchison was particularly pleased to receive this recognition from his beloved home town.