2007 Christie Blatchford

Christie Blatchford
by Tim Wharnsby

Christie Blatchford’s distinct voice in Canadian journalism always has been a welcome one when she writes about this country’s sporting scene.



She jests that what attracts her to writing about sports is “the boys,” but when she covers an Olympic Games or another high profile event, her words of wisdom are a welcome departure from the loud screams on talk shows, the blabber about bad trades, the highlights at 11 p.m., the propaganda machine about athlete role models.

Blatchford, 56, has always been able to connect the dots in her stories and columns that readers have enjoyed in Canada for more than 35 years.

She is no stranger to sports. She still trains daily and runs marathons. As a native of Rouyn-Noranda, Que., the same hometown of former Toronto Maple Leafs captain Dave Keon, the daughter of Kay and Ross Blatchford often was found lurking around the local rink which was managed by her father.

When the family moved to Toronto when Blatchford was in Grade 11, again she was found at her father’s new joint, North Toronto Memorial Arena. After emerging from the journalism program at Ryerson ready to exhibit her hard-nosed reporting skills, she quickly established herself as a household name in the pages of the Globe and Mail when she became the paper’s first female sports columnist since Bobbie Rosenfeld.

She was about to bolt to the Toronto Star back then, when Globe managing editor Clark Davey found a way to keep her, offer her a column in the sports section. Christie later moved to the Star and became its top reporter between 1977-82, then shifted to the Toronto Sun as its top columnist for nearly two decades before a brief stint at the National Post and a return to the Globe in 2002.

Although, her main focus for the past 30 years has been the big news stories around the world, she takes respites to cover Olympic Games and other big sporting events, where she has made an impression to not only her readers, but co-workers.

“Christie was always at her best at big events like the Blue Jays World Series years or the ‘96 Olympics in Atlanta,” said baseball columnist Bob Elliott, who worked with her at the Sun.

“I was in my room at Clark University when news that the bomb had gone off in the Olympic Park. Walking across the hall there was Christie banging on the doors of all the Sun workers rousting them out of bed. This was at the end of her work day. If I remember correctly she went 48 hours without sleep.

“As always she had the best read. Christie was always a great read and above all a pal — even if I only made her Valentine’s Day list once.”

Veteran Sun sports reporter Steve Buffery was one of the people Blatchford rousted in 1996. “Blatchford puts it in another gear when she’s at an Olympics, and God help you if you don’t keep up,” Buffery said. “I remember when the bomb went off at the Atlanta Games. Blatchford, Steve Simmons and myself were interviewing people who were hurt in the blast, when Blatchford ran over to me and started shouting instructions as to what I should do next.

“She was so intense that I couldn’t understand what she was saying. I just stood there looking at her for a minute before she wheeled around and she slapped me on the side of my face, pretty hard, and screamed at me to ‘snap out of it!’ And boy did I snap out of it.”

Blatchford, a national newspaper award winner for column writing, has an ability to emotionally connect the subjects in her stories to her readers.

Another example of her talent is on display in her book, Fifteen Days: Stories of Bravery, Friendship, Life and Death from inside the new Canadian Army, which has been described as “a detailed, complex and deeply affecting picture of military life in the twenty-first century.”