Greg Clark - Journalist 1892-1977
It was once said that in the years leading into the Second World War, more Canadians would recognize Greg Clark on the street than the prime minister or the movie hero of the day.
During the 1930s, Greg Clark was the most widely read writer in Canada, crafting features for the Star Weekly with cartoonist Jimmie Frise. His popularity continued through the late 1940s and into the early 1960s as a writer and most notably back-page columnist, for Weekend Magazine.
Nineteen books of Greg Clark's writings, ranging from everyday life to the horrors of war, have been published. His output of stories about real people living real lives was phenomenal.
Craig Ballantyne, editorial director of Weekend Magazine, once described Clark as "a man so Canadian that no other land could possibly have produced him." Hemingway, in 1920, called him the best writer at the Toronto Star.
Clark entered journalism in 1911 at the Toronto Star, where he worked for 34 years before joining the Montreal Standard, which later developed into Weekend Magazine.
He is often remembered as a columnist, but his feature and column work had been forged by years of front-page reporting. He covered the Moose River mining disaster, royal coronations, papal coronations, the death of FDR, and the founding of the UN to name a few. He was a correspondent in World War II, after serving in WWI, which he entered as a private and left as a major.
His contributions to journalism are many, but his most important is what his work can show other journalists about storytelling excellence. All Clark's writings, from columns to hard front-page news, are guides to how journalists should tell stories that interest and inform readers.
His writings are real life with human touches. They have been described as "rapid, full of rhythm, unimpeded by digression." His work was positive in the darkest situations, while still laying out the full facts and describing reality. This is an approach worth study in a time when the public feels journalism is far too negative.
Greg Clark quietly helped many young writers, including Globe columnist Bruce West, author Morley Callaghan, broadcaster Gordon Sinclair, and Hemingway. Study of his work will help many more well into the future.