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Book details
  • SubGenre:Editors, Journalists, Publishers
  • Language:English
  • Pages:500
  • eBook ISBN:9781926991382

Rufus: The Life of the Canadian Journalist Who Interviewed Hitler

by Colin Castle

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Five years of pioneer farming, laying track, heaving lumber and coal, was ideal cross-Canada preparation for newsman and author Rufus Johnston. Hired by the Vancouver Province in 1910, a wizard with words and steeped in the issues, Rufus was a natural. Editorial stints in Duncan and Victoria, then war service as a Canadian Corps staff officer at Vimy and Passchendaele, further equipped him for big league journalism. The Province rewarded his postwar scoops with its magazine section, then Southam News with their London bureau. From here, drawn like a moth to a flame, this ambitious journalist went to meet Germany s dictator. He never returned.


As they shook hands and sat down across from each other in the stark office, Rufus knew that history was being made... Chronicling the true life of Canadian newsman Lukin “Rufus” Johnson, this never-before-told biography explains how one man went from labouring across the Canadian prairies and through the farms of Ontario to becoming the first Canadian newsman to interview Hitler. After beginning his career as a journalist only to be pulled away to serve in World War I, Rufus was not yet aware that his inevitable return to journalism would eventually lead him to interview the man who initiated a world war of his own. After grinding out years in the journalistic trenches, working for the Vancouver Province and Southam newspapers, Rufus was desperate for a headline-making scoop. He began to cover international events and newsmakers, simultaneously infuriating his superiors while gaining their respect. He was eventually given the magazine section of the Province and was later dispatched to London to lead their first overseas bureau. Rufus’s stories from abroad were wildly popular back home in Canada, but as European skies darkened, his investigative reports left readers in no doubt about the danger of a new war on the horizon. And while they digested his interview with Hitler in November of 1933, they also heard of his mysterious disappearance aboard the ship back to England, never to be seen again. Rufus’s untimely and mysterious death cut short not only a writing career that significantly affected the Canadian journalistic and political landscapes, but cut short a life that was worthy of its own headlines.

About the author

Colin Castle is a Canadian who was born in England in 1936. After wartime years at primary schools in Scotland and England, most of his schooling was at fee-paying boarding schools (similar to the one Rufus attended many years before). He left school at 18, spent two years in the British army in Berlin and three taking a history degree at Oxford. After trying several other careers he became a history teacher in 1961, and remained one until his retirement in 1998. He met his Canadian wife, Val Johnston, on a ski trip to Austria in 1964, and they were married in July that year in London, England. Their early married life was in Westmorland, England, where their two sons were born. In 1969 they emigrated to Kelowna, BC, where Colin taught history and social studies in what is now West Kelowna — first at George Pringle Secondary, and then, for twenty-three years, at Mount Boucherie Secondary. Their daughter was born in 1971 and the three children grew up in the Okanagan. Colin and Val still rattle around happily in the family house beside the lake, often visited by their children and grandchildren who now live, learn and work in Victoria, Vancouver and Glasgow. Apart from Rufus, Colin has written three books: Lucky Alex, a biography of Group Captain Alex Jardine (2001), Canada’s Story — an (as yet) unpublished history of Canada for children; and a Family History of the antecedents and descendants of Allan Macdiarmid and Grace McClure, his Scottish grandparents.