A blog about the history of the Edmonton Journal and reporting in Edmonton, written by present and former reporters, columnists and editors of the Edmonton Journal
Monday, June 14, 2010
Obit for Arts Evans
The Edmonton Journal
Fri May 21 1993
Byline: NICK LEES Journal Staff Writer
Source: THE EDMONTON JOURNALEdmonton
Art Evans, former longtime Journal columnist and horse-racing enthusiast, was at the track one day when an acquaintance bet the double.
The first horse won, paid a handsome price, and the man keeled over, dead.
A woman came rushing over and asked: “Is he alive?”
Commented Mr. Evans: “Only in the double, madam.”
“Art was very quick-witted,” said Don (Buckets) Fleming, a fellow racing devotee who joined The Journal the same week in 1948 that Mr. Evans was hired.
Mr. Evans’ many friends in Edmonton and Calgary were taken aback to learn of his death this week. He was still active at 73.
“He’d been at the track Saturday and won a couple of longshots,” said his son William of Vancouver.
Mr. Evans suffered a heart attack Sunday and died at the University of Alberta Hospitals after suffering another, more massive attack.
“Edmonton has lost a great character, raconteur and friend,” said Don Smith, a former Journal managing editor. “Jasper Avenue was his beat and once upon a time he knew practically everyone who walked down it.”
Mr. Evans, born in Calgary, was the son of a Welsh locomotive mechanic and took some of his early steps around Canadian National’s yards in Calgary.
“Trains were a love that lasted his lifetime,” said Fleming. “He’d often take a northbound train across the High Level Bridge and would wait for a southbound locomotive to take him back.”
He told few people he tried out for a Canadian Pacific Railway engineer’s job in the late ’30s.
“He always quipped that he was rejected because his father worked for CN,” said his son William. “He loved steam locomotives, not diesel. He said he knew trains so well that he could tell who the engineer was by the way the whistle was blown.”
Mr. Evans joined the Calgary Albertan as a reporter in 1946, moved to The Journal in 1948 and on to CFRN in 1953. He returned to the Albertan in 1960, coming back to the The Journal in 1962. He retired in 1984.
Stories of Mr. Evans’ wild days are the stuff of legends. Associates say he was fired on three occasions. He always maintained he quit.
In 1953, Gen. George Pearkes, a First World War Victoria Cross, was campaigning for the Conservatives in the federal election when he declared: “The Liberals are leading us down the road to Moscow!”
In walked Mr. Evans, fresh from socializing. “Balderdash,” he hollered.
Dolores MacFarlane, who met Mr. Evans in 1948 when she worked for the Edmonton Bulletin, said he stood up and yelled a word closely resembling balderdash during a speech made by former Alberta premier E. C. Manning.
“I think he may have had a drink beforehand,” said MacFarlane. “Back then, you always associated Art with wine, women and song.”
Historian Tony Cashman recalled that Mr. Evans at one time covered the police beat in Edmonton. “There was a police news conference every morning at 8 a.m. and to be in time, Art sometimes slept on the big desk over there,” said Cashman. “He would have been so busy the previous night that he’d decide it wasn’t worth going home.”
Former assistant Journal editor Stan Williams said: “Evans wrote in a language that people talked. He didn’t write above them and he didn’t write down to them. And he always wore a fedora.”
MacFarlane, who worked for the CBC between 1954 and 1991, said he always had time for young journalists.
He once told her: “Remember the accused in court is a person, just like the police officer and judge.”
His friends said he settled down after marrying Una MacLean Evans in 1962. She has been an alderman, citizenship court judge and a federal Liberal candidate.
“When you are married, you have responsibilities,” he said a few years ago. “That free-wheeling style is out.”
Mr. Evans refused to be overtaken by technology and wrote his humorous columns – for many years they appeared on The Journal’s front page – on what he described as “the oldest typewriter in the West.”
Business columnist Rod Ziegler said Mr. Evans had an anecdote about everything, but one of his favorites concerned going to the opera with the late Irish-born Jimmy McGuire, a senior CP Air pilot and aviation consultant.
They sat near the front, and Mr. Evans said the soprano was so powerful and talented that she brought tears to McGuire’s eyes.
“Art always chuckled when he recalled McGuire turning to him and saying: `Could she ever do a job on Danny Boy’! ”
Journal cartoonist Yardley Jones, who collaborated on three books with Mr. Evans, said the columnist accompanied him to New Sarepta when Jones was made honorary mayor.
“When it was time to head back, I looked everywhere for Art and finally found him sitting by himself in the railway station and gazing down the tracks,” said Jones.
“He said he didn’t want a ride, but would wait for the train. I don’t think there was a train. He just wanted to be alone and mull things over.”
Mr. Evans is survived by his wife Una, two daughters, Margaret and Sarah, and son William. A memorial service will be held today at 1 p.m. at Robertson-Wesley United Church, 10209 123rd St.
Old friends bid farewell to Arthur Evans; Former columnist’s humor and humanity remembered at well-attended funeral
Longtime columnist Art Evans dead at 73
The Edmonton Journal
Wed May 19 1993
Byline: ROLLAND BREMNER Journal Staff Writer
Source: THE EDMONTON JOURNAL
If former Journal columnist Art Evans had a trademark, it was his fedora.
He wore it to work, to the race track and almost everywhere else. It was rarely off his head.
But on Tuesday, it was hung up for the last time.
Mr. Evans, 73, died of a massive heart attack at the University of Alberta Hospital.
“It’s a shock, and it’s sort of devastating,” said longtime friend and former colleague Don Smith. “He was a real good buddy, a down-to-earth guy.”
He loved horses, trains and ordinary people, said Smith, a former Journal managing editor.
Mr. Evans retired from The Journal in 1984, after a newspaper career that spanned almost 40 years, including more than 30 years with Southam Inc.
His columns were usually about the humorous side of life.
“He liked ordinary people, and he saw the ridiculous things in our lives,” said Smith.
His columns appeared on The Journal’s front page for years.
Born in Calgary on Dec. 24, 1919, Mr. Evans began his journalism career in 1946 as a reporter with the Calgary Albertan.
Before that, he worked as a railway switchman in Toronto, his first job following his discharge from the Royal Canadian Air Force, with which he served during the Second World War.
He moved to Edmonton in 1948 and joined The Journal as a reporter, then began his own column called Once Over Lightly.
In 1953 he left The Journal for CFRN Radio, but came back to the newspaper business two years later, joining the Calgary Herald, and later the Albertan.
He rejoined The Journal in 1962,where he remained until his retirement.
He is survived by his wife Una MacLean Evans, two sons and a daughter.
The Edmonton Journal
Sat May 22 1993
Byline: STEVE WARBURTON Journal Staff Writer
Source: THE EDMONTON JOURNAL
Jasper Avenue Dave, Longshot Ken and Nervous Jerry bid farewell to a friend Friday at the funeral of longtime Journal columnist Arthur Evans.
The three, friends who showed up in Mr. Evans’s front-page column, were among the more than 250 people – ordinary and otherwise – who gathered at the Robertson-Wesley United Church to remember the man.
Former premier Don Getty and National Party Leader Mel Hurtig were seated in a crowd which included Mr. Evans’ pals from the Northlands track.
Court of Queen’s Bench Justice David McDonald, dubbed “Jasper Avenue Dave,” paid tribute to Mr. Evans’ dry humor.
Citing Mr. Evans’ first column in 1962, after a nine-year absence from The Journal, McDonald recalled his unforgettable prose.
“He wrote,” McDonald said during the service, `As I was saying in 1953, before I was so rudely interrupted . . .’ ”
McDonald, who met Mr. Evans through the latter’s coverage of the courts as a reporter, complimented his friend for seeing beyond McDonald’s role as a judge.
“He gave me an image no one else saw in me,” McDonald remembered fondly.
Mr. Evans died Tuesday of a heart attack at age 73.
His son Bill called his dad an eccentric.
“He was a character’s character,” Bill said during the eulogy.
He recalled how his dad believed the crowd at the Northlands track provided the greatest cross-section of society in a single place.
He added that Mr. Evans’ last trip to the race track netted him two winners – both long shots.
“Longshot Ken” White, who earned his name after a 57 to 1 longshot win in the early ’60s, said Mr. Evans would be missed.
“It’ll be a void at the Northlands,” said White, a retired Woodward’s maintenance worker.
“Nervous Jerry” Downie, another former Woodward’s employee, met Mr. Evans in 1954. “I liked his humor and the way he described the horse players. He never did a hatchet job.” said Downie.