Irwin, William Arthur

William Arthur Irwin, editor, diplomat (b at Ayr, Ont 27 May 1898; d at Victoria, BC Aug 9, 1999). He is best known as the man who made Maclean's truly "Canada's National Magazine." A confirmed nationalist, he saw his task as "interpreting Canada to Canadians." A tough editor, and a brilliant spotter of talent who believed in careful research, Irwin attracted and helped train an entire generation of young writers who served either as staff members or freelance contributors. These included Blair Fraser, Ralph Allen, Pierre Berton, Fred Bodsworth, Sidney Katz, June Callwood, Trent Frayne and many others. He lured cover artists of the calibre of A.J. Casson, and fiction writers of the quality of W.O. Mitchell and Morley Callaghan. He served overseas in WWI before working as reporter and Ottawa correspondent for 2 Toronto newspapers. He joined Maclean's in 1925. Although the titular editor was a voluble Englishman, H. Napier Moore, the taciturn Irwin quickly became the magazine's motivating force, long before he assumed the editor's chair in 1945. George Drew's unmasking of the BREN GUN SCANDAL in the early war years was largely owing to Irwin's behind-the-scenes manipulation. In 1950 he left Maclean's to become commissioner of the National Film Board where he met and married the poet, Patricia K. PAGE. From 1953 to 1964 he held several high diplomatic posts overseas, returning to Canada as publisher of the Victoria Times until 1971.