In memoriam: Wilf List

Veteran labour news reporter remembered in CLV Reports

Wilfred List, frequently described as the dean of Canadian labour news reporting, died recently at the age of 88. He wrote for CLV Reports after retiring from a long and respected career on the labour beat at the Globe and Mail.

He was born on October 6, 1919 and, as a teenager, attended Harbord Collegiate in Toronto until the age of 15 when his father’s death forced him into the workforce to support his family. He worked at an advertising agency until 1942 when he was hired by the Globe and Mail. He began reporting on labour issues later in that decade and continued to do so until his retirement from that newspaper in 1984 — the longest time any reporter at the Globe had ever worked on a single beat, according to an article in the Ryerson Review of Journalism. By then, he was well known known for his fairness in reporting and his tenacity in pursuing a story.

He joined CLV Reports in the late 1980s and participated in several annual conferences as well as writing feature stories for the newsletter. His contribution soon became weekly until his retirement from CLV in late 2004.

One of his first articles for CLV Reports reported on how the Steelworkers Union was tackling the “sensitive problem of dealing with racial harassment of members of visible minorities by fellow workers.” His last, written in November 2004, dealt with “Quebec’s groundbreaking legislation that created the first anti-bullying law in North America.” In between, he wrote on issues across the spectrum of labour relations.

He was one of the last reporters devoted to covering only labour relations, a beat which went beyond merely reporting on strikes and involved a wide understanding of union history, the collective bargaining and arbitration processes and labour laws.

He is survived by his wife, Ethel, four children, several grandchildren and his sister.

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