What do you call an author, a broadcaster, a columnist, a master of ceremonies, a professor and a journalist? If you answered Ted Barris, you are right. Not only does this Uxbridge resident participate in all aspects of communications, but he does them extremely well.
I first met Ted and his father Alex at a literary festival in Pickering in 1996. I had just published my fourth book and Ted had co-authored one with his dad, called ‘Days of Victory’. A few years later, he interviewed me on CBC‘s Fresh Air program. I soon realized that Ted had an uncanny ability to dig deep into the facts and expose the truth. This talent can be seen in every one of his nineteen novels, many of which deal with our soldiers and their accomplishments. “I love writing and researching about our veterans,” Ted explained. “Their stories are fading fast and need to be captured.”
Ted was born in Toronto and moved to Uxbridge in 1988. “I lived in Alberta for a while but didn’t think I could get through another recession, so we came home,” he clarified. “When I was young, my parents had a farm east of Port Perry, and I have always loved this area. Uxbridge is close to Toronto, yet far enough to be considered ‘the country’.” He smiled as he spoke.
As a broadcaster, Ted has been involved with the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) for most of his adult life. He has hosted Metro Morning and Fresh Air, as well as a number of other programs. In Alberta he had his own interview show with the Canadian Television Network (CTV) and also had airtime on Television Ontario (TVO). He spent many years as a Professor, teaching Journalism and Broadcasting at Centennial College. Ted finds great satisfaction in sharing his knowledge with, and provoking thoughts, in the young people of today.
Ted has been writing his column, ‘The Barris Beat’ since 1982. “It was a name my dad used for his column.” The ‘Beat’ has appeared in five Uxbridge newspapers over the past decades. “I write about what I see.” Ted loves hockey and plays locally three times a week. He is extremely active on the Uxbridge Art Scene and hosts many different events. “I can’t say no,” Ted said laughingly. From the Uxbridge Music Hall to Toronto mayoral debates, Ted gets involved in all of it.
As busy as Ted is, he always finds time for Uxbridge. He sat on the Board of the Uxbridge Music Scholarship Fund for 12 years; he is a founding member of the Uxbridge Arts Association, a founding member of the Writers’ Circle of Durham Region, he initiated the Uxbridge Oilies’ Hockey Club/Geoff Gaston scholarship (for graduating Uxbridge Secondary School students)… the list goes on.
It is no wonder Ted was selected as Uxbridge’s Citizen of the Year. “I was humbled by the announcement,” Ted said sincerely. Having known Ted Barris for nearly 15 years, I honestly could not think of a person who deserves the honour more. Ted’s recent book, Rush into Danger, is a history of medics in the line of fire, spanning an era from the civil war up to Afghanistan. It is centered on Ted’s father, who was a medic during the second world war, and spent most of his time in the Battle of the Bulge region of the Ardennes forest.
The book has some great stories, relayed in a way only Ted Barris can express. One such story is a humourous anecdote about Princess Patricia, a horse who fought in several battles, and ended up in New Brunswick. Another tale is about how the gas mask was invented by a Canadian. Who knew?
We are grateful to people like Ted Barris who keep history alive and in our foreground. Drop by Blue Heron Books and get a copy of one of Ted’s books, or check him out online at www.tedbarris.com I was fortunate to interview Ted for my talk show on Rogers TV and YouTube. Air date is February 17th at 7 p.m. Check it out.
Jonathan van Bilsen is a television host, published author, award winning photographer and keynote speaker. Watch his new show ‘ The Jonathan van Bilsen Show’ on Rogers TV, the Standard online and YouTube.