CBC's Hana Gartner retires

Hana Gartner, who has spent more than 35 years with The Fifth Estate and CBC News, is retiring.
CBC journalist Hana Gartner has captured five Gemini awards for her work. (CBC)

Hana Gartner, who has spent more than 35 years with The Fifth Estate and CBC News, is retiring.

"I have accumulated a body of work of which I am very proud, and always believed that is when you leave the party, when you're at the top of your game," she said in an email reflecting on her career.

"So while I don't feel I have left anything undone or unfinished, I leave with considerable melancholy."

Gartner said national magazine show The Fifth Estate had been "my social life, my education, my purpose" for many years.

"So I am afraid, and already mourning the loss. But at the same time I am excited about the prospect of finding another place to put my passion," she added.

In a CBC announcement Wednesday afternoon Gartner was lauded for her "stellar, celebrated, much-awarded career at CBC."

"At The Fifth Estate, five years at Prime Time News, at Take 30 and radio guest appearances, Hana always combined hard-working intelligence with disarming charm to cut to the heart of the matter — 'a teddy bear with a light sabre,' as one colleague put it," said the statement by Jennifer McGuire, general manager and editor in chief of CBC News, and Heaton Dyer, executive director of programming at CBC News.

Known for her forthright manner and style, Gartner provided in-depth coverage of everything from human interest to social issues.

Born in Prague and raised in Montreal, Gartner began her journalism career at Montreal's CJAD in 1970 and soon became the parliamentary correspondent for Standard Broadcasting News.

In 1974, she joined the CBC Montreal evening program and a year later moved to Toronto, accepting a similar post.

Soon she was co-hosting the CBC's Take 30 national program, which led to an assignment with The Fifth Estate in 1982. 

Her acute interviewing skills spawned a series of specials, Contact with Hana Gartner, in which she put those sharp questioning abilities to use on newsmakers of the day, intriguing Canadians and prime ministers.

In 1985, she won the prestigious Gordon Sinclair Award for excellence in broadcast journalism. She has also garnered five Gemini Awards, including the Best Host award in 1995 — the year she debuted as host of The Magazine.

Gartner returned to The Fifth Estate for the 2000-01 season, and was honoured with her second Gordon Sinclair Award in 2006.

Just as she departs the public broadcaster, Gartner may be getting yet another honour — she's in the running for the most prestigious journalism award in Canada, a Michener Award, for her work on the Ashley Smith story. That prize will be handed out June 14 in Ottawa.