Thursday 19 December 2013

Bob Boughner exits CDN after 54 years

Bob Boughner
Updated Dec. 29 to include Bob's farewell to readers

Years ago, a survey said the average stay for a reporter at a Canadian newspaper was five years.

Many a Toronto Sun reporter beat that average hands down because of favourable pre-Quebecor working conditions, but a record of sorts must have been set by Bob Boughner at the Chatham Daily News.

My first daily reporting job, thanks to Bob Turnbull, the late, great Globe and Mail city editor, was at the Daily News in the summer of 1963.

Bob was working the newsroom at the time. More than 50 years later, he is down to his final two days on the job.

He leaves Friday, having saved the job of Daily News reporter Vicki Gough by taking a Sun Media buyout. Sounds like the caring Bob I knew for three months in 1963 in helping this very green cub reporter and former Globe and Mail copy boy get to know Chatham.

All the best, Bob. You have served Chatham well.

Bob's Dec. 19 farewell to Chatham Daily News readers:

Santa has come along with an early Christmas present for me – retirement.

And so after 54 years this is my last day on the job as a reporter for The Chatham Daily News.

I was a mere teenager when the late Jack Bowers took a chance with a drop-out from the farming program at Ridgetown College to allow me to cover the much-coveted newspaper farm beat.

My late teacher, Bernie Jones, always told me he thought I might someday become a writer.

In later years he said he was proud that I succeeded in a highly-competitive field of endeavour.

Covering special events, reporting on fast breaking news and interviewing celebrities and big-name politicians came easy to this eager reporter.

I can remember the traffic chaos caused when Prime Minister John Diefenbaker allowed me to interview him for nearly 45 minutes on his private train car on the CNR line in Chatham while enroute from Windsor to Toronto.

The same thing happened a few years later when the president of the CPR (a Mr. Crump) passed through Chatham and invited the late Bill Gray and myself to hop aboard his private train coach which was stopped for nearly an hour at the CPR crossing on William Street.

I was in the newsroom the morning a bulletin came across the wire that U.S. President John F. Kennedy had been gunned down in Dallas and one of the youngsters I interviewed that morning called recently to say he was still reading my articles.

I vividly recall walking the streets of Detroit conducting interviews during the riots along with former CFCO reporter Pete McGarvey.

I can’t begin to count the number of colleagues that I have worked alongside over the years including Dave Hodge, who went on to become a big-time hockey announcer on TV and George Hutchinson, who spent a few years at Ontario House in London, England, representing Ontario.

It wasn’t until recently that someone pointed out that I’m likely the longest-serving reporter in Canada – move over Lloyd Robertson and Peter Mansbridge.

Having a face-to-face talk with Nelson Mandela ranks high on my list of achievements as does helping in some small way keeping the doors of Navistar open for an extra year or two by opening the doors of communication between Navistar officials in Chicago and former CAW boss Buzz Hargrove. Buzz was salmon fishing off the coast of Vancouver when I helped facilitate a flurry of phone calls.

During my career I had the great fortune to cover a number of politicians, including former Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty, Chatham-Kent Essex MPs Dave Van Kesteren, Elliot Hardey and Jerry Pickard and MPPs Rick Nicholls, Pat Hoy and Andy Watson.

There have also been a long list of mayors that have provided me with news tips over the years including current mayor Randy Hope and the late Garnet Newkirk, Bill Erickson, Doug Allin and Margaret Archibald.

The job has allowed me to travel to destinations near and far and write about them in my weekly travel column.

Incidentally, I have been asked to continue to turn out a weekly travel column – at least that will allow me to keep my fingers in the paper business.

I know retirement won`t come easy, but because of the advanced technology required in today`s newsroom it`s necessary for me to move on and allow the younger, techy generation to take over.

For instance, the new generation reporter-photographers today cover events in the field, take photographs and immediately place them online for the world to see.

That`s beyond my limited scope of turning on and off my computer each day. I could almost see the writing on the wall when the computer replaced my trusty, old typewriter and digital cameras took the place of my large, old graphflex camera.

In the early days we had company cars to whiz about Kent County (today it`s known as Chatham-Kent) and we spent much of the day in the field gathering news.

Today, news comes to the newsroom in a variety of forms ranging from prepared media releases and photos and a good portion of the work is now conducted over the telephone.

The world has changed dramatically in the past half century and although I can still easily churn out front page articles daily, it’s the technology that has forced me to the sidelines.

I have thoroughly enjoyed keeping Chatham-Kent residents informed of news happenings on a daily basis for more than a half century and will definitely miss coming to work daily. I hope readers have been better informed as a result of my writings.

Retirement will allow me to spend more time with my children – daughter Tammy Lynn Michaud and her husband Ken and Todd Boughner and his wife Nicole, along with my grandchildren – Connor and Sarah Michaud and Clair, Martin, Lydia and Anderson Boughner.

My late wife, Diane, and I were married for 43 years before she died of cancer, robbing her of the opportunity to watch her grandchildren grow up.

Thanks to my readers, employers and newsroom colleagues who have put up with this sometimes grumpy, old man – and Merry Christmas and Happy New Year’s to each and all.

Perhaps our paths will cross again in the future.


  1. Worked with Bob many years ago. Heck of a guy, good to the community. Happy retirement Bob, you deserve it.

  2. Worked with BOB back in the 80's. Let go in December as well