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June Callwood: Celebrated journalist

No one was excluded in the world of June Callwood. The celebrated journalist/activist with a "just fix it" attitude worked tirelessly for countless causes. She helped found over 50 social organizations including Nellie's women's shelter and Casey House, Canada's first AIDS hospice. Dubbed St. June, the woman with movie star good looks and an unwavering capacity for compassion, battled personal tragedy, depression and controversy in a long life that served as Canada's conscience.

At the time of this 1964 interview, June Callwood has established herself as one of the most prolific and versatile magazine writers in the country. She has written about a variety of topics -- everything from the Avro Arrow, to Marilyn Bell's historic swim, to the birth control pill. Despite her lack of formal education, Callwood seems undaunted by difficult subjects, even one as tricky as a profile of cantankerous journalist Gordon Sinclair.

She tells CBC's Brian McFarlane how, despite their "wary" first meeting, she managed to ask the irascible Sinclair some tough, personal questions.
. In 1945, Callwood left her job at the Globe and Mail when she was pregnant with her first child, but found herself bored at home. In 1947, Callwood decided to take flying lessons to pass the time. Her flying instructor was a woman named Violet Milstead, Canada's first woman bush pilot. Callwood wrote a profile of Milstead and sold it to Liberty magazine for $50. That was the beginning of her freelance writing career.

. During Callwood's heyday as a magazine writer in the 1950s, her fresh beauty led to her posing in a Blue Bonnet margarine ad.

. In 1958, Callwood had three difficult science-based articles published in a period of five months. One was on the universe, the second on the birth control pill and the third on a special engine being built for the Avro Arrow.

. When Callwood was pregnant with her youngest child, she began thinking about why some emotions develop more than others. She wrote a series on the topic for Maclean's magazine, which later became her first book called Love, Hate, Fear and Anger (1964). Both professionals and the general public hailed the book. The book even found its way into psychology courses.

. Callwood has written over 30 books. Some of these include:

Portrait of Canada (1981)
Emma: Canada's Unlikely Spy (1984)
Twelve Weeks in Spring (1986)
Jim: A Life With AIDS (1988)
Trial Without End (1994)
The Man Who Lost Himself (2000)

. At the time of this interview Callwood and Frayne had four children: Jill, Jessie, Brant and Casey.
Medium: Radio
Program: Assignment
Broadcast Date: April 29, 1964
Guest(s): June Callwood
Host: Bill McNeil
Interviewer: Brian McFarlane
Duration: 5:11

Last updated: June 22, 2012

Page consulted on December 6, 2013

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