________________ CM . . . . Volume XIII Number 10 . . . . January 4, 2007


June Callwood: A Life of Action.           

Anne Dublin.
Toronto, ON: Second Story Press, 2006.
140 pp., pbk., $14.95.
ISBN 978-1-897187-14-2.

Subject Headings:
Callwood, June-Juvenile literature.
Journalists-Canada-Biography-Juvenile literature.
Human rights workers-Canada-Biography-Juvenile literature.
Authors, Canadian (English)-Biography-Juvenile literature.

Grades 5-9 / Ages 10-14.

Review by J. Lynn Fraser.

*** /4

In clear, easy to read prose Anne Dublin describes the early life and career of Brantford’s June Callwood. Dublin takes the reader through Callwood’s career up to the present as a writer in her early eighties. As a woman, journalist, and author, Callwood’s career and personal history mirrored the growth of feminism, broadcasting and the awareness of various social causes in Canada. The personal tragedies she experienced, as well as her commitment to social causes, led to Callwood’s establishing support homes and hospices.

     Dublin’s biography describes Callwood’s financial insecurity in her life with her parents to her ‘learning the ropes’ as a new, and female, reporter at Toronto’s newspapers. Callwood’s career as a journalist exposed her to many of the issues and newsmakers of her day that ranged from Violet Milstead, one of four women in the Royal Air Transport Auxiliary who flew unarmed planes wherever they were needed during World War II, to Elvis Presley, to the need for hospice care for AIDS patients.

     Throughout the text are useful descriptions of terms used in the text for the young reader, such as origins of the word freelancer:

The term comes from the Middle Ages, when knights were obliged to use their swords and lances to defend one particular nobleman and his land. However, a few men had a “free lance” and could hire themselves out to work for whomever they wanted. That was how June wanted to work---deciding for herself what to write about and for whom.

     Dublin not only informs her readers about Callwood but places Callwood’s life within the society and value of her times. Dublin also teaches the reader about some job aspects of being a working journalist.

     The young reader, perhaps a budding journalist, is also made aware of the power of the written word to inform and to politicize readers as Anne Dublin makes clear in describing the various causes Callwood has written about in her 1,500 newspaper columns and magazine articles as well as in her 30 books.

     Apparent throughout the biography is Callwood’s spirit, energy, and dedication. One friend notes that:

She sees the good things people do, however small, instead of being consumed by the bad stuff that can be ragingly conspicuous. By embracing the good, she finds the passion she needs to fight for it.

     As in many books that include both biography and social history, there are many names, dates, and events that are described. Dublin’s book is an organized read with many black and white photographs, text in large font, a timeline at the back of the book, sections for honours and organizations Callwood was associated with, a selected bibliography, and appendix.           

     June Callwood: A Life of Action is useful for students of social and political history as well as those interested in the becoming writer’s themselves.


Located in Toronto, ON, J. Lynn Fraser is a freelance writer and editor whose magazine articles appear in national and international publications.


To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

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