Land-Use Protection Association
Bruce Hutchison, who lived in Saanich for most of his life, is arguably the municipality's most famous and illustrious citizen. Born in Ontario on June 5, 1901, he moved with his mother to Victoria in 1906. With the exception of a two-year stint in Merrit from 1909 - 1911, he remained a resident of the Victoria area. In 1924, he built his home "in the country" on Rogers Ave, then far removed from Victoria's urban core.
Along with a cabin at Shawnigan Lake, the Rogers cottage was to remain "home base" for the rest of his life. Steadfastly refusing to move, he accomplished a remarkable career that spanned seven decades and included service as: assistant editor of the Winnipeg Free Press from 1944 - 50, editor of the Victoria Times from 1950 - 1963, editor of the Vancouver Sun from 1963 - 1979 and Editor Emeritus for the Sun thereafter. Characteristically, both the Sun and the Free Press were edited largely by telephone and post from home base.
His output was prodigious. In addition, to thousands of newspaper articles and hundreds of articles for many of North America's most prominent magazines, he found time to write fourteen books, three of which won Governor General's Awards. His achievement is recognized in a long series of awards that include:
|Three Governor General's Awards - the only British Columbian to accomplish this feat|
|Three National Newspaper Awards|
|The Bowater Prize for achievement in the Commonwealth and international fields of Canadian Journalism|
|The Canadian Authors Association Gibson Award for "The Far Side of the Street"|
|Being first recipient of the Jack Webster Foundation's lifetime achievement award named in his honour|
|Four honourary degress from Canadian Universities|
|Being named to The Order Of Canada|
|Being Made a Freeman of Saanich - the highest honour his municipality could award|
His impact on Canadian journalists, authors and politicians was also remarkable. Widely respected for his insight into national and international politics and government, he was a valued confidant of ten successive Prime Ministers including Brian Mulroney, Pierre Trudeau, Lester Pearson and Louis St.Laurent.
His influence on several generations of his peers was no less significant. Peter C. Newman called him "The Dean of Canada's political commentators", Allen Fotheringham labeled him "The stylist of our newspaper age" and Pierre Berton acknowledged that: "I owe him a very great debt, for it was he who taught me that the Canadian past could be interesting. His books of popular history have been my single most important influence."
More than anything, however, Bruce Hutchison lived his life as a family man of integrity and modesty who respected nature and the ecological web woven through it. He immortalized the "simple" side of his life and his almost reverential communion with nature in "A Life in the Country", a "Canadian Walden Pond" that chronicles his Rogers Avenue and Shawnigan experiences while reflecting broadly on humanity and it's role in the natural world. In a way, he was "everyman", but everyman with exceptional talent.
Perhaps, an anecdote best describes him. At one point, the photographer Yousuf Karsh arrived at the Shawnigan cabin to immortalize Mr. Hutchison. Karsh commanded an apparent roustabout standing by in coveralls to lend a hand, which the "roustabout" did. Only when the picture taking was complete did Mr. Hutchison introduce Karsh to his assistant, Mr. John Owen Wilson, chief justice of the Supreme Court. By all accounts, Karsh literally jumped into the lake.
What could be more fitting as a tribute to Bruce Hutchison's remarkable life than to preserve for all time the setting that inspired this great chronicler of Canada's experience. Fortunately, this is largely still possible. His Rogers home remains in excellent condition under the stewardship of his family. The property to the east of the house was purchased some time ago by Saanich as part of a park and natural trail that wends through the property he once owned. To the west of the house the setting is also intact but, unfortunately, is under pressure for development.
Acquiring the lands to the west is the next important step in preserving what should be seen as a municipal and national treasure and a potential future national historical site. As Saanich approaches its hundredth year, it is hard to think of a better centennial project for the municipality.
The lands to the east of the house – currently preserved
The lands to the west of the house – under threat from development
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