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Pierre Berton: the writer at home

The Story

When the Bertons bought their property in Kleinburg, Ont., just north of Toronto, it was a featureless plot of land with a pleasing view. Almost 40 years later, their landscaping efforts have transformed it into a bucolic place with gentle hills, a burbling pond and a small forest. This is where Pierre churns out his best-selling books chronicling people and events in Canadian history and where Janet proofreads his work. In this segment from a 1987 CBC-TV profile, Pierre explains how his research assistant, Barbara Sears, helps him churn out books at the rate of one per year. 

Medium: Television
Program: CBC Television Special
Broadcast Date: March 29, 1987
Guest(s): Pierre Berton, Janet Berton, Peter Gzowski, Jack McLelland, Barbara Sears
Duration: 8:41

Did You know?

• One of Pierre Berton's first books was The Mysterious North (1956), a travelogue and history that won him the Governor General's Award for non-fiction. His last book looked in the same direction: 2004's Prisoners of the North chronicles five fascinating people who made their mark above the 60th parallel.

• Berton contributed much to the life of Kleinburg, Ont., his adopted home. In 1967 he helped create the town's annual Binder Twine Festival, which hearkens back to the days when farmhands would come into town to purchase twine for binding together sheaves of wheat.

• Berton met his wife, Janet, while the pair worked at the campus newspaper at the University of British Columbia. They were married in 1946 and had eight children: Penny, Pamela, Patsy, Peter, Paul, Peggy Ann, Perri and Eric Basciano, a foster son who joined the family at age 16.

• Berton's research assistant, Barbara Sears, died in August 2009 at age 63.



Pierre Berton: Canadian Icon and Iconoclast more