Memorable Manitobans: Charles James Woodsworth (1909-2005)
Born at Winnipeg on 23 April 1909, the third of six children, and the oldest son, of CCF founder James S. Woodsworth and his wife, Lucy Lillian Staples. He began his journalistic career as a teenager; in May 1924, he won first prize in an essay competition sponsored by the Ottawa Evening Citizen on the subject of “save the forests.” In 1928 while attending University of Manitoba he began working for the Winnipeg Tribune and when he graduated in 1932 he joined the paper full time. During nine years with the Tribune he was both a reporter and editorial writer. One of his outstanding achievements was the coverage of the June 1935 On-to-Ottawa Trek. To get the story he disguised himself as a transient and joined the trekkers as they rode the train to Regina. His journalistic career continued with the Vancouver Daily Province (1941-1944) and the Ottawa Citizen (1948-1955). In 1955 he was fired as editor-in-chief of the Citizen by publisher Robert Southam over differences of opinion on editorial policy.
After his dismissal he began a second career as a diplomat. From 1956 to 1960 he was consul and information officer at the Canadian Consulate General in New York City. From 1960 to 1961 he acted as Canadian commissioner to the International Commission for Supervision and Control (ICSC) in Saigon to observe the terms of the ceasefire between North and South Vietnam. Between 1965 and 1971 he served the Department of External affairs as ambassador / high commissioner in South Africa (1965-1969), Lesotho (1967-1969), Botswana (1968-1969), Swaziland (1968-1971), Ethiopia (1969-1971), Madasgascar (1979-1971), and Somalia (1969-1971).
After retirement, he, his wife Julie and their three children divided their time between homes in Chelsea, Quebec and Puyvert, France. In 2002 he and Julie moved permanently to Puyvert, France. He died there on 4 January 2005.
Birth registration, Manitoba Vital Statistics.
A Prophet at Home by Charles J. Woodsworth, Vancouver: Tricouni Press, 2005.
This page was prepared by Michael Dupuis.
Page revised: 12 November 2014
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