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 Allen Gordon Sinclair

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Allen Gordon Sinclair

  • Birth 3 Jun 1900 Toronto, Toronto Municipality, Ontario, Canada
  • Death 17 May 1984 Toronto, Toronto Municipality, Ontario, Canada
  • Burial Toronto, Toronto Municipality, Ontario, Canada
  • Memorial ID 10479

Canadian Journalist, Commentator, and Author. He is probably best remembered for his 1973 radio editorial "The Americans," in which he praised America for its world status and willingness to help those in dire need abroad. Born in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, he dropped out of high school in his first year and went to work for the Bank of Nova Scotia. He was soon fires and then started working in the administrative offices of Eaton's Department Store. During World War I, he served part time in the 48th Highlanders of Canada, a militia unit, but was never sent overseas to fight in the war. In April 1920 he became a bookkeeper with Gutta Percha and Rubber Manufacturing Company, where he met his future wife, Gladys Prewett. In February 1922 he began working as a reporter for the Toronto Star newspaper where he did routine assignments for seven years before receiving his first byline. His breakthrough was a series of articles written after living among a group of homeless people, which he called "Toronto's Hobo Club," and from that point, he became one of the paper's star reporters, spending most of the next decade travelling the world, filing reports from exotic locations. During an Asian tour in 1932, he spent four months in India and, after returning home, wrote his first book, "Foot-loose In India," published in October 1932, and it became a best-seller in Canada, with the first edition selling out on the first day of release. In January 1933 he embarked on a trip to Southeast Asia and he wrote a book on his experiences titled "Cannibal Quest," which was a best-seller in Canada and also reached Number 9 on the U.S. best-seller list. That was followed by a series from Devil's Island, the controversial French penal colony off the South American coast of French Guiana, which was also turned into a book, "Loose Among the Devils" (1935). In 1935 he was fired by the Star after failing to get the story on the outbreak of the Second Italo-Abyssinian War in Ethiopia. At the time, he was working on his 4th book "Kyber Caravan," based on his travels in Afghanistan. The Star reported that Sinclair was leaving journalism to take a job in advertising and after three months on the staff of Maclaren Advertising, he returned to the Star as a sports columnist. He was hired shortly after the sudden death of Star sports editor Lou Marsh, who had been one of Canada's best-known sports journalists. After a year in sports, he returned to general reporting and late in 1938 he again went on an Asian tour. He remained at home during the Second World War and was not accredited as a war correspondent. In 1942 he was fired by the Star again for violating their a policy prohibiting its reporters from regularly writing reports for other news outlets. In February 1943, he formally joined the CFRB (Canada's First Rogers Batteryless) radio team in Toronto, becoming part-owner of the station the following year. He would continue to be associated with CFRB his own feature, "Let's Be Personal" and "Showbiz," for over 40 years until his death. In 1949 he returned to the Star as a freelancer-for one final international tour, which included his coverage of the end of the Berlin Blockade. He remained a contributor to the paper, writing a radio and TV column, until December 1962. In 1957 he began a career in television, as a sometime controversial panelist on the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation Television series "Front Page Challenge," remaining in that position for 27 years until his death. He was a vocal opponent of water fluoridation (calling it "rat poison" in 1958), the singing of "God Save the Queen," medicare, and taxes, as well as a critic of religion and the church. In 1966 he published his autobiography, "Will the Real Gordon Sinclair Please Stand Up" followed in 1975 by a sequel, "Will Gordon Sinclair Please Sit Down." In June 1973, following news that the American Red Cross had run out of money as a result of aid efforts for recent natural disasters, he recorded what would become his most famous radio editorial, "The Americans," a tribute to American success, ingenuity, and generosity to people in need abroad, in which he decried that when America faced crisis itself, it often seemed to face that crisis alone. The editorial generated a strong response, and a recording of his commentary was sold as a single with all profits going to the American Red Cross. "The Americans (A Canadian's Opinion)" went to #24 on the Billboard Hot 100, making him, at the age of 73, the 2nd-oldest living person ever to have a Billboard U.S. Top 40 hit. In 1979 he was made an Officer of the Order of Canada. On May 15, 1984, after broadcasting his CFRB commentary, he suffered a massive heart attack that quickly led to a coma and irreversible brain damage. He died two days later in Toronto at the age of 83 after his life support systems were discontinued.

Bio by: William Bjornstad

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  • Maintained by: Find A Grave
  • Added: 9 Jul 2000
  • Find A Grave Memorial 10479
  • Find A Grave, database and images ( : accessed ), memorial page for Allen Gordon Sinclair (3 Jun 1900–17 May 1984), Find A Grave Memorial no. 10479, citing Park Lawn Cemetery, Toronto, Toronto Municipality, Ontario, Canada ; Maintained by Find A Grave .