Stewart, Bill

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Stewart, Bill

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Dates of existence

February 28, 1914 - December 3, 2004

History

William Archibald (Bill) Stewart, OBE (1914-2004) was born in Rivière-du-Loup, Quebec, February 28, 1914. He died in St. Lambert, Quebec, December 3, 2004. His father, Charles A. Stewart (d. 1960), a descendant of Scots who settled in Prince Edward Island in 1770, worked for the Temiscouata Railway Co.; he became president of the railway in 1940. His mother was A. Laura Walsh Stewart (d. 1982, age 94). Bill was the second eldest child, with five brothers and two sisters: E. Vaughan, Charles (m. Rolande Viel), Ruth (m. D. Ernie Burritt of Canadian Press), Anne T. (m. Bertrand Potvin), James Robert (d. 1995), Alan (m. Denise ?), and R. Lloyd (d. 1987). In 1946 Bill Stewart married Katherine Elizabeth (Kay) Young (b. Winnipeg, 1920, d. 2013). Kay and Bill Stewart had five children: Dugald (m. Ginette, children: Jonathan, Carine), Landon, Susan, John (had Charles-Antoine with Murielle Allain), and Janet (m. Marcelo ? , daughter Arlen).

Bill went to school in French at the Christian Brothers' Collège St-Patrice near Rivière-du-Loup. He began undergraduate studies at the University of Ottawa, but had to return home because the Depression diminished family resources. He ran the family farm and studied art by correspondence in 1932-1933. He continued to be active in visual art for a number of years thereafter, creating portraits, caricatures, and cartoons. Some are signed JF, a pseudonym he adopted when his artwork appeared in newspapers.

In 1933 he contributed articles to Canadian Press as a correspondent in Rivière-du-Loup. In 1934 he became a CP staff member in the Halifax bureau. He was to work in various positions with CP until retirement in 1979. In 1935-1936 he worked successively in Charlottetown , P.E.I. and Sydney, N.S., and St. John, N.B. In 1936 he was transferred to Montreal, then to CP's Toronto bureau. In 1937-1939 he was a correspondent in Quebec City. He served on the Montreal bureau editorial staff in 1940.

In 1941 CP stationed him in London to report on Canadian military personnel training there for the 1942 invasion of Dieppe. After a few weeks in North Africa in 1943, he covered Canadian action in the 1943 Sicily and Italian campaigns. In January 1944 he reported on action in northwest Europe. His eyewitness account of the Normandy D-Day invasion was among the first to reach the outside world.

In 1944, Stewart was the first Canadian correspondent accredited to the Southeast Asia Command; he was based in the Philippines where a Canadian force of army, air force and navy personnel was preparing to take part in an invasion of Japan, a plan that was abandoned when two atomic bombs were used against Japan in August 1945. Following the surrender of Japan, Stewart interviewed Canadians who had been taken prisoner by the Japanese in Hong Kong in 1941. Some of his dispatches from the Pacific war were signed with the pseudonym George Hawkes. In 1946-1947 he was CP's Far East correspondent, based in Australia.

In 1947 he became Quebec City bureau chief (1948-1952). He was a member of the Quebec Parliamentary Press Gallery. In 1952-1974 he was Montreal bureau chief. In 1951 he was instrumental in establishing CP's French service La Presse Canadienne, which he headed at its inception. (He was also involved in CP's radio service, Broadcast News, which offered service in English and French starting in 1945.) In 1954, he accompanied Canadian Prime Minister Louis St-Laurent on a world tour. He presided over coverage of Quebec's Quiet Revolution and the FLQ October Crisis of 1970.

He helped his friend Roger Lemelin developed scripts for the English-language version of La Famille Plouffe/The Plouffe Family, a popular series shown on the CBC 1954-1959.

From 1975 to 1979 he was a CP general executive, based in Montreal.

After retirement he continued writing, often on Quebec subjects, until the year he died, when he filed a story on the 60th anniversary of D-Day. He also did freelance translation. He was a member of the Canadian War Correspondents Association and served on its board of directors until his death.

Throughout his life he maintained an active correspondence with family members, friends, and colleagues, retaining a copy of many of the letters he sent.

In 1948 he was named an Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) in recognition of his wartime reporting. He was inducted into the Canadian News Hall of Fame in 1986. He was listed in Canadian Who's Who.

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Created by the Records Management and Archives Department 2010-09. Input by Concordia University Libraries 2015-07-06.

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