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TREVOR LAUTENS shudders at such painful clichés as “he has ink in his veins.” The fact is that his journalism work began as a proofreader – excellent grounding – at the Hamilton Spectator on Oct. 9, 1953, and, except for three years off for good behaviour when he served as speechwriter and communications consultant for the premier of British Columbia (Bill Bennett) and his cabinet, especially the education and intergovernmental relations ministries, the latter under later lieutenant-governor Garde B. Gardom, he is still in the family business.
That began in 1920 when his father, Joseph Lautens, joined the Canadian Press news agency in Winnipeg at age 15 as a teletype operator and mechanic – high-tech stuff of its day – retiring in 1970 as the Canadian Press’s longest-serving employee.
Trevor’s brother Gary was a much-awarded and widely-read columnist and sometime news executive for Canada’s biggest daily, the Toronto Star, author of several books, writer for a few years for the perennially popular television program Front Page Challenge, and two-time winner of the Stephen Leacock Award. Gary’s sons Stephen, a lawyer, Toronto Sun papers columnist and for many years part owner of a gold mine in China (a lifelong ambition), and Richard, Toronto Star photographer, are carrying on the tradition (or foolishness) into the third generation. A fourth generation threatens: Chelsea, daughter of Ron and Jane Lautens Young.
Then there’s cousin Morley, retired Midwest advertising manager for People magazine, cousin Joyce, also retired from the Time-Life organization and still writing and consulting for one of the biggest American conglomerates … and have we mentioned Bertha Irene George, born in Morden, Manitoba, who went to work in the circulation department of the Winnipeg Free Press as a teenager and gave it up to marry the aforementioned Joe Lautens and give birth to Gary and Trevor, thus the unchallenged matriarch of a poor but honest journalistic family?
Trevor long ago genially accepted that he’s the runt of the brood, though he spent more than 35 years with The Vancouver Sun – in its golden days under wonderful publisher Stuart Keate and iconic editorial director Bruce Hutchison – as opinion-page editor, columnist and editorial writer, made appearances in Maclean’s, Saturday Night, and a dozen Canadian newspapers including the Toronto Sun and the Ottawa Citizen. In recent years he’s written 60-odd columns for the Winnipeg Free Press, a favourite outlet for reasons obvious above.
Don’t be fooled by his grey hair: Trevor’s three youngest children are young enough to be his grandchildren. His daughter Kate, who holds a writing degree from the University of Victoria, had wide experience in editing, publishing and communications before her fantastic (proud father’s adjective) appointment as editor of the Victoria up-market magazine Boulevard in February 2013, at age only 27.
He and his wife Elizabeth Robertson, who retired from teaching in 2009, also have children Daniel, 24, whom T.L. amusedly accuses of being a café intellectual (perhaps with the most socially/politically thoughtful mind of them all), at the University of Victoria, and Berta, 23, who graduated in science from the University of Guelph in 2012 and will begin registered nursing studies at the University of Toronto in autumn 2013. His older children are Mark, 53 (son of his marriage to the late Audrey Lane Lautens), a distinguished chemistry professor and leader of a research group at the University of Toronto, holder of two academic chairs, in 2012 named University Professor – a distinction held by only about 40 U of T living professors – winner of a Killam award in 2013, and Fellow of the Royal Canadian Society; and Stephan Gudmundson, 37, a computer science graduate of the University of B.C. who, after employment by a small computer company in Vancouver, Seattle and San Diego, works in Mountain View, California, for a company “you may have heard of” (as he told his father), Google. Even his almost computer-illiterate father had heard of it. Stephan’s wife Linda is a PhD graduate of prestigious Stanford University, and the couple have an adorable daughter, Lauren, born in January 2012.
Trevor’s far more modest record includes birth in his beloved Hamilton in 1934, writing boys’ book reviews at age 11 (bless you, Rhys Crossan) for the Hamilton Spectator, graduation from McMaster University with UBC and Queen’s University credits, and Spectator proofreader, reporter and copy editor for nine years before moving to Vancouver in 1963. He resumed credit courses at the University of B.C. in 2011. He was also a CBC Radio public affairs program host and commentator for a dozen-odd years and a lecturer in the seniors program at Simon Fraser University.
In April 2013 he won a Ma Murray gold award for best column in the B.C. and Yukon Community Newspapers Association competition (at age 78, the oldest ever to do so, perhaps?), having won a Ma Murray silver in 2007. In 2010 he won a Canada-wide Paul Cadogan Award for columnists (bronze) under the aegis of the Canadian Community Newspaper Association, all of the columns having appeared in the North Shore News, where his words have appeared regularly for 24 years. In 2011 he began as a regular columnist on often irregular subjects for the weekly Business in Vancouver, a special pleasure, under editor Tim Renshaw’s brilliantly whimsical logo “None of My Business.” He was granted a Journalism For Life Award by the North Shore Pro-Life Society in 1998.
He’s a member of the Union Club, Victoria, and several libraries. The family home is in West Vancouver and family members don’t find enough time for their getaway cottage on Saturna Island, B.C. For more than 30 years his zoo – several dogs and a cat — have entirely and pitilessly run his life.