Pierre Berton

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Pierre Francis de Marigny Berton, CC, O.Ont (July 12, 1920 – November 30, 2004) was a noted Canadian author of non-fiction, especially Canadiana and Canadian history, and was a well-known television personality and journalist.

An accomplished storyteller, Berton was one of Canada's most prolific and popular authors. He wrote 50 books, including ones on popular culture, Canadian history, critiques of mainstream religion, anthologies, children's books and historical works for youth. He popularized Canadian history.



He was born on July 12, 1920, in Whitehorse, Yukon, where his father had moved for the 1898 Klondike Gold Rush.[1] His family moved to Dawson City, Yukon in 1921, where they lived until moving to Victoria, British Columbia in 1932.[1] His mother, Laura Beatrice Berton (née Thompson) was a school teacher in Toronto until she was offered a job as a teacher in Dawson City at the age of 29 in 1907. She met Frank Berton in the nearby mining town of Granville shortly after settling in Dawson and teaching kindergarten. Laura Beatrice Berton's autobiography of life in the Yukon entitled I Married the Klondike was published in her later years and gave her, what her son Pierre describes as 'a modicum of fame, which she thoroughly enjoyed.'[2]

Like his father, Pierre Berton worked in Klondike mining camps during his years as a history major at the University of British Columbia, where he also worked on the student paper The Ubyssey.[citation needed] He spent his early newspaper career in Vancouver, where at 21 he was the youngest city editor on any Canadian daily, replacing editorial staff that had been called up during the Second World War.[2]

Berton himself was conscripted into the Canadian Army under the National Resources Mobilization Act in 1942 and attended basic training in British Columbia, nominally as a reinforcement soldier intended for The Seaforth Highlanders of Canada.[2] He elected to "go Active" (the euphemism for volunteering for overseas service) and his aptitude was such that he was appointed Lance Corporal and attended NCO school, and became a basic training instructor in the rank of corporal.[2] Due to a background in university COTC and inspired by other citizen-soldiers who had been commissioned, he sought training as an officer.[2]

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