Bob Phillips, an exemplary Canadian

Posted 07.16.03

Bob Phillips, the former publisher and editor of The Aylmer Bulletin, passed away in his Cantley home last Wednesday afternoon, July 9. Bob had battled cancer for two years, and seemed to be surviving until a heart attack turned the tables. He was 81 years old, and he lived a life as full and as rewarding as any of us would wish to have. He leaves behind three very accomplished daughters.

I had known Bob for many years, although it was only when we began negotiating the sale and purchase of the Bulletin and The West Quebec Post in 1995, that I began to get an inkling of the vroad interests and depths of this fine man. Always a gentleman and considerate, our business dealings were straightforward and friendly; we sought and found a route that would benefit us both.

With that as the basis of our working relationship, I began to appreciate his skills, experience, and wisdom as a writer and as an observer of our West Quebec. Bob wrote a column, Write On, for The West Quebec Post every second week, almost to within a month of his death. He did the same for the Ottawa Citizen. We shared a love and a committment to the oft-unloved profession of journalism--and we both shared time on the provincial newspaper association's board of directors. We had lunch together in early May, our last face to face meeting, and despite his obvious weakness, there was no denying his will to live, his determination to continue his writing and researching. He confided that he was working on the final draft of an autobiography destined "only for my family".

Bob wrote well over 650 columns and six books. Our office walls carry some of his many commendations and writing awards. His columns were tenchant and wise; they were often humourous with an understatement that was incredibly powerful. Most of all, it was Bob's pride in being a Canadian that stood out, time after time. For a man who had served his country in Europe and Russia, including the Soviet middle east, his patriotism was an example to those of us who knew the world in a much smaller way. I am not a fan of flag-waving patriotism myself, but Bob's pride and respect for the institutions and history of our country and of our region were always convincing. He wrote from conviction, and with determination to promote the goals he thought important.

Bob's involvement with our history and heritage is well known. He was the president of the Historical Society of the Gatineau for many years, and he was awarded an Order of Canada in particular for his work in protecting many of the heritage landmarks that still stand in Ottawa.

It was pouring rain during the memorial service for Bob last Friday. This was entirely fitting. He was a great man, an example, and my own life is richer for having known him. I think all of us at that service shared that feeling. This is one last thank-you. Goodbye, dear friend.

Fred Ryan is publisher of Quebec's Aylmer Bulletin, West Quebec Post, and the Pontiac Journal. He is also a director of the Quebec Community Newspapers Association.

To read more about Bob Phillips, GO HERE.

Copyright © 2003 Fred Ryan/Log Cabin Chronicles/07.03