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Tartan Day 2012

John Fraser
Scot of the Year 2012

We are delighted to announce that John Fraser, one of Canada’s most accomplished academics in the field of journalism will be presented with our annual Scot of the Year Award at our Tartan Day Dinner event this April. (Venue and date to be confirmed.) John is proudly aware of his own Scottish heritage and is an active participant in many Scottish events, even introducing an annual Burns Supper to Massey College.

John was born in Montreal in 1944, raised in Toronto and went to both state and private high schools (Upper Canada College, Oakwood Collegiate, Lakefield College School and Jarvis Collegiate). Later he attended universities in Newfoundland (Honours Bachelor of Arts, Memorial) and England (Graduate Diploma, Exeter College, Oxford; and Master of Arts, East Anglia).

His journalism career began at the now defunct Toronto Telegram, when he was 16 with summer jobs and part-time work during the school year (copy-boy, editorial clerk, youth reporter), and later at the Sherbrooke (Quebec) Daily Record and the St. John's (Newfoundland) Evening Telegram. In 1970, he rejoined the Toronto Telegram and was put on the overnight police desk for five months before being appointed its last music and dance critic. After a brief stint at the Toronto Sun as an arts writer, he joined the Globe and Mail in 1972 as a dance critic, feature writer and junior editor. Successively at The Globe, he was appointed Theatre Critic (1975), Beijing Correspondent (1977), Ottawa Bureau Chief (1979), National Columnist (1980), National Editor (1982), and European Correspondent (1984).

In 1987 he was appointed Editor of Saturday Night, Canada's oldest and most distinguished magazine. During his seven-year term, he was responsible for several major innovations: a comprehensive and well-received redesign, a new publishing protocol in alliance with newspapers across the country which saw the magazine's circulation rise from 130,000 to over 500,000, and a unique relationship with Harper-Collins Publishers which led to the publication of over 25 books with the "Saturday Night Books" imprimatur. During his editorship, the magazine won the most awards of any Canadian publication and for Mr. Fraser the National Magazine Editors' Award of “editor-of-the year."

In 1994, when he stepped down as Editor of Saturday Night, he wrote a general column for the Toronto Star until 1998, when he wrote columns on media, the arts and books for the new National Post. His return to The Globe and Mail began in September 2004 with a university affairs column and he remains an active freelance contributor to that newspaper and Maclean’s magazine. For his work in journalism, John has won numerous awards. He is a three-time winner of the National Newspaper Award (1975 for dance criticism; 1977 for theatre criticism; and 1979 for his coverage of the "Peking Spring" democracy movement). In addition, he has won eight awards from the National Magazine Awards Foundation, including a gold award for his popular "Diary" column in Saturday Night.

John is also a contributor to numerous anthologies (among them are The Writer and Human Rights, Dance In Canada, Canada's Unemployed: the Crisis of Our Times, Punjab: the Fatal Miscalculation, Traveler's Tales), as well as to numerous magazines and international journals (including The New York Times, the Washington Post, The Christian Science Monitor, Newsweek, Time, The New Republic and Harper's in the United States; The Times of London, The Guardian, The Sunday Telegraph and The Spectator in Britain; Paris Match in France; and The Far Eastern Economic Review in Hong Kong).

An active volunteer in both his professional and private life, John has served on various boards, commissions and juries, including: The National Youth Orchestra, Lakefield College School, National Magazine Awards Foundation, Memorial University of Newfoundland Art Gallery, Ryerson School of Journalism, University of Western Ontario Graduate School of Journalism, the Northrop Frye Centre at the University of Victoria College, The Royal School of Church Music, The Champlain Society, the Canadian Society of Magazine Editors, The Canadian Committee to Protect Journalists, The Friends of L'Arche, The Theatre of Early Music, The Newfoundland Quarterly, The Hong Kong-University of Toronto Programme, Green College in the University of British Columbia, and the University of Toronto's School of Graduate Studies Governing Council.

In 2005, he was named Rabin Fellow at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and in 2009 he delivered the Bullock Lecture at the same university. Twice honoured by the Queen (Silver Jubilee Medal in 1977, Golden Jubilee Medal in 2002), he has also received honorary degrees from his alma mater in St. John’s, Newfoundland (D.Litt.), King’s College University in Halifax (D.C.L.) and York University (LL.D.) In January 2002, he was appointed a Member of the Order of Canada. In 2009, he was elected a Fellow of the Royal Canadian Geographical Society.

John is married to the broadcaster and writer Elizabeth Scott MacCallum. They have three daughters and live in the Master’s Lodging at Massey College in the University of Toronto.

John's association with Saturday Night goes back to when B. K. Sandwell was editor and the front cover of the Christmas 1946 issue (above) featured him and his sister as poppets, evidently singing different carols. Had Sandwell known then that the two-year-old would one day boost the magazine's circulation to over 800,000 and re-establish its pre-eminence among Canadian magazines, he might have paid his tiny cover-boy for posing. (From John's book Saturday Night Lives.)

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