Memorable Manitobans: Heather Margaret Robertson (1942-2014)
Born at Winnipeg on 19 March 1942, daughter of Harry Robertson and Margaret Ellen Duncan (1911-1988), she was educated at Kelvin High School and the University of Manitoba, serving at the latter as Editor of The Manitoban (1961-1962). She began a career in professional journalism at the Winnipeg Free Press and later the Winnipeg Tribune. She also contributed articles to such magazines as Chatelaine, Saturday Night, and Macleans. She published her first non-fiction book in 1970, producing three more non-fiction works during the 1970s and early 1980s. Then she switched to fiction before returning to non-fiction in the 1990s.
Her books include Reservations are for Indians (1970), Grass Roots (1973), Salt of the Earth (1974), A Terrible Beauty: The Art of Canada at War (1977), The Flying Bandit (1981), Willie: A Romance (1983), Lily: A Rhapsody in Red (1986), Igor: A Novel of Intrigue (1989), More than a Rose: Prime Ministers, Wives, and other Women (1991), On the Hill: A People’s Guide to Canada’s Parliament (1992), Driving Force: The McLaughlin Family and the Age of the Car (1995), Writing from Life: A Guide for Writing True Stories (1998), Meeting Death: In Hospital, Hospice, and at Home (2000), Magical, Mysterious Lake of the Woods (2003), Measuring Mother Earth: How Joe the Kid Became Tyrrell of the North (2007), and Walking into Wilderness: The Toronto Carrying Place and Nine Mile Portage (2010).
She was a founding member of the Writers’ Union of Canada and the Periodical Writers Association of Canada. In 1996, she launched a class-action lawsuit over what she believed was the illegal use of print articles in online media without due compensation to the authors. The case went to the Supreme Court of Canada where her view was upheld. She received an honorary doctorate from the University of Manitoba in 1998.
She died at King City, Ontario on 19 March 2014. A collection of her papers is held at the University of Manitoba Archives & Special Collections.
Obituary [Margaret Ellen Robertson], Winnipeg Free Press, 5 January 1988, page 38.
“Author excelled at both fiction and true tales,” Winnipeg Free Press, 21 March 2014, page D5.
“Writer’s best legacy: respect for her peers,” Winnipeg Free Press, 25 March 2014, page A2.
This page was prepared by Gordon Goldsborough.
Page revised: 25 December 2019
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