TORONTO — Columnist and author Allan Fotheringham, known for his biting satirical commentaries aimed at the rich and the powerful, died Wednesday at his home in Toronto. He was 87.
For 27 years, Fotheringham’s columns appeared in the prominent last-page spot of Maclean’s magazine, where readers often turned to read his take on Canadian news and politics before turning to the rest of the publication.
Before and after the Maclean’s years, he was known for his cutting sense of humour — often aimed at prime ministers and other public officials as he held them to account.
Maclean’s marked Fotheringham’s passing with a column filled with some of his memorable jibes under the headline: “Allan Fotheringham was loved, revered and loathed but never ignored.”
Fotheringham’s wife Anne said in phone call from their home that her husband “understood the power of the pen. But he was, in real life, the kindest man. And caring.”
She said an official cause of death hadn’t been determined but he was in generally poor health.
“His birthday was Aug. 31 but we knew he wouldn’t make it. So I staged a birthday party for him yesterday. We got balloons and decorated the room and put up a big sign saying ‘Happy Birthday’ and got cake and candles,” she said.
“He had about 20 cards that his friends had sent him because I asked them to send them early because of COVID, and things take so long in the mail.”
Anna Porter, who published several of his books, and her husband Julian Porter, who was Fotheringham’s lawyer, were also at the party.
“Anna and I helped him blow out the candles, because he couldn’t do it. And his face lit up when he saw the cards.
“And then Julian started telling old stories and his eyes lit up and his face lit up and he smiled. He really enjoyed himself.”
“He loved his birthdays. And he wanted to see Anna and Julian, although he couldn’t talk at the end.”
She said her son Kip was on his way to Toronto.
“Sadly, his son was due to come today. He’s on a plane now but he’ll be about 12 hours too late to see his dad.”
Besides Anne and Kip, Fotheringham is survived by his daughter Francesca and five grandchildren. His eldest son, Brady, died in 2011.
Allan Fotheringham was born Murray Allan Scott on Aug. 31, 1932, in Hearne, Sask, the third of Edna and John Scott’s four children. He took the surname Fotheringham after his mother remarried following his father’s death.
His early career began with a regular column at the University of British Columbia’s student newspaper. He was later was a reporter and columnist at the Vancouver Sun newspaper.
He began writing his weekly Maclean’s column in 1975. He also published several books, including a collection of essays called “Last Page First” and a 2011 memoir, “Boy From Nowhere.”
In addition to writing, he was a member of the long-running CBC television show “Front Page Challenge,” which featured some of Canada’s most prominent journalistic names on its panel.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Aug. 19, 2020.
David Paddon, The Canadian Press