National Treasure #139: Pierre Berton

Had Pierre Francis de Marigny Berton been born in 1930 instead of 1920, he likely would have had his own website, and written it all himself. As it is, we are left to work with others’ perceptions and summaries of the man.

Journalist, historian, media personality. – The Canadian Encyclopedia

Canadian icon and iconoclast. – CBC Digital Archives

One of Canada’s best known writers. – The Canadian Encyclopedia

Serious popularizer of Canadian history. – The Canadian Encyclopedia

. . . an anecdotalist, or storyteller, who emphasized the human dimension,
while often overlooking the scholarship. –
Historian C.P. Stacey (1980), quoted in Wikipedia

To me he was a Front Page Challenger and the first person I ever saw wearing a bow tie.

The top five things I learned about Pierre Berton just by looking:

  • He was a committed Boy Scout.
  • He trained to do intelligence work during WWII.
  • He wrote and published 50 books (50!).
  • He won more than 30 literary awards (30!).
  • He had six children (6!), and gave all of them names starting with “P” – Peter, Patricia, Peggy, Penny, Pamela, Paul.

At age 84, he did a “How to roll a joint” segment on the Rick Mercer Report, based on what was, apparently, 40 years of recreational marijuana use.


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4 Responses to National Treasure #139: Pierre Berton

  1. Laurna Tallman says:

    All of which proves you cannot judge the author of a book by 50 covers! Who knew?

    • Isabel Gibson says:

      Laurna – Yes, I guess Pierre Berton was also defined in limiting ways . . .

  2. Jim Taylor says:

    Gordon Pinsent had a great line at one of those arts literary dinners: “I haven’t seen such a collection of egos in one spot since the last time Pierre Berton dined alone.”
    Sometimes I think Berton was overrated as a writer; I find his prose, generally, unlikely to move hearts. After all, much of his 50 books was written by his researchers. But as a historian of Canada, he was unparalleled.
    Jim T

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