Chilliwack’s Allan Fotheringham and his journey from ‘nowhere’

Allan Fotheringham, the Chilliwack homeboy who became an icon of Canadian journalism, has written his memoirs, now available in bookstores across the country.

Former Chilliwack high school student and columnist for the Chilliwack Progress Allan Fotheringham has released his memoirs

Allan Fotheringham, the Chilliwack homeboy who became an icon of Canadian journalism, has written his memoirs, now available in bookstores across the country.

‘Boy from Nowhere’ describes Fotheringham’s life as a reporter and columnist in 91 countries, a career that started here at The Chilliwack Progress.

But the ‘Nowhere’ of the book’s title is not Chilliwack, Fotheringham chuckles during a telephone interview Friday.

In fact, he was born in an even smaller community, Hearne, Saskatchewan, in 1932.

But leaving behind the flat and drab Prairies, the young Fotheringham thought his new home at Chilliwack’s Edenbank really was the Garden of Eden.

“It was fall, and lush apples and pears were falling from trees in the brilliant sunshine,” he writes. “I actually thought we had arrived in the Garden of Eden. I was ten years old.”

Fotheringham later became a student reporter for The Progress, his “Highschool Highlights” column catching the eye of then-publisher Les Barber.

“Your paper gave me my first real start, the first time I got paid,” Fotheringham said.

And apparently laid the foundation of a confidence that compelled him to raise hell as a columnist for the next 50 years.

After his stint at The Progress, Fotheringham went to UBC where he joined the Ubyssey student newspaper.

Assigned to cover a campus event, Fotheringham said he quickly discovered news gathering was not his strong point.

Sent out the next day to gather more news, Fotheringham said, “I thought, ‘To hell with this’ and went back to the newsroom and typed out an attack on the UBC engineers, the bullies of the campus.”

The story was front page news for a week — and the kind of go-for-the-jugular journalism that caught the attention of editors at the Vancouver Sun.

“Dr. Foth” — as he came to be known — was on his way.

His career path led from Ottawa and Washington to London and Russia across the ocean, writing a column for Canada’s national newsmagazine Maclean’s for 27 years — some of the most turbulent times of the last century.

Described as Canada’s most controversial columnist, Fotheringham was sued for libel 26 times, but only twice successfully.

He learned how to use an expense account.

“I learned that in this business you can’t become a millionaire — but you can live like one,” he said.

And along the way, the boy from Chilliwack hobnobbed with the likes of Bobby Kennedy, Henry Kissinger, The Beatles, Princess Diana and 11 Canadian Prime Ministers.

Fotheringham was also a panelist on the popular Front Page Challenge television show for 10 years, and he’s published eight other books including Malice in Blunderland – Or How The Grits Stole Christmas.

The Foth now lives in Toronto.

rfreeman@theprogress.com

twitter.com/paperboy2

Just Posted

Chilliwack Trustee Barry Neufeld says he’s the victim of workplace discrimination

Left out of liaison duties in the district, Barry Neufeld says he’ll be bringing legal action against the school board

More trouble for Chilliwack man infamous for Stanley Cup riot assault on Good Samaritan

Sentenced this week for twice refusing to provide breath samples after alleged drunk driving

Ceremony to honour matriarchs at Matsqui Sunday

Gathering part of the effort to reclaim jurisdiction over child welfare services from government

Kent looking to replace Ferny Coombe pool with indoor facility

The facility being built is dependent on grant funding from the province and federal government

Prices still rising, Chilliwack real estate back in balanced territory

Local market is steadier compared to points west with higher increase in average sale price

B.C. storm totals $37M in insured damages

The December storm wreaked havoc on B.C.’s south coast

B.C. chief says they didn’t give up rights for gas pipeline to be built

Hereditary chief: no elected band council or Crown authority has jurisdiction over Wet’suwet’en land

Thieves steal thousands from 140 Coast Capital Savings members

Online fraud tactics included phising and ‘brute force’ in November and December

Condo rental bans may be on way out with B.C. empty home tax

Many exemptions to tax, but annual declarations required

UPDATE: B.C. boy, aunt missing for three days

The pair are missing from Kamloops

Daredevil changes game plan to jump broken White Rock pier

Brooke Colby tells council daredevil event would help boost waterfront business

Dog shot in foot with BB gun during cellphone sale at SkyTrain station

William Ayers, 28, is facing a number of charges after incident in Burnaby

Man, two children sent to hospital after Vancouver carbon monoxide leak

Nine people were evacuated from the home in south Vancouver

Most Read