GBF Winter 2022 Newsletter

Being born and raised in Toronto, John fondly remembers his time growing up surrounded by the big lights and towering buildings that make up the skyline of Ontario’s capital city. The buildings and bright lights still enchant him, as he gazes out his picturesque window pane, which overlooks St. Michaels cemetery, and reminisces about days gone by. “It was a vastly different time back then. A time when your parents shooed you out for the day and told you not to come home until the street lights came on. It was endless days of playing at the park, shooting hoops, and ice skating on frozen ponds unsupervised. And yes, it was also a time where kids were expected to walk to and from school, in all kinds of weather, by themselves at the young age of six! My, how times have changed in today’s society,” he chuckles as he compares the different parenting styles of his parents, his own style and now his son Robin’s, who is a father to two bouncing boys. Throughout his childhood, John lovingly remembers the two-week family vacation Chateau Woodland on Lake Kashagawigamog in Haliburton. It was a family tradition for many, many years until, one day, John’s family was invited to join their neighbours, the Pearsons, at their cottage in Starvation Bay. From that day on, the family, hoping for additional invites, were lucky enough to almost always have the joy of summering on the shores of Georgian Bay. John distinctly remembers his first impression of the Bay — dramatic and breathtaking — and his first glimpse of the stunning rocks and formations for which the eastern side of the Georgian Bay are so well known. He also remembers when Twelve Mile Bay Road was a small dirt laneway and Hwy 400 stopped at Coldwater. Little did he know, way back then, the huge role Georgian Bay was going to play in his adult life. Growing up, John had some amazing experiences that helped shape and form his life. His father, Beland Honderich, was the Chairman and Publisher of the Toronto Star and would take John to work with him frequently. Because of this, John spent much of his childhood surrounded by some of the greatest journalists of all time, as well as some of his father’s most trusted colleagues. One man in particular, Alex MacIntosh, helped John’s love and passion for the law grow and he encouraged John to pursue his dream of becoming a lawyer, which he did when he was called to the bar in 1973. However, it was also during this time when John had an epiphany. He finally came to terms with the fact that journalism was his one true calling and that he “shouldn’t cut off his nose to spite his face”. And at once, he began applying for writing jobs. After a few months, young John was offered a copyboy position at the Ottawa Citizen for $73/week, working nights. And then, after a few years of “getting his feet wet”, he decided to join the Ottawa Bureau of the Star in 1976. The rest, they say, is history. It was during this time in his life that he met his future wife, Katherine Govier, a renowned writer and novelist in her own right. They were married on February 27th, 1981 and shortly, thereafter, had two children, Robin and Emily. It was also during this time, that he shared his love of Georgian Bay with Katherine, who also fell head over heels with the breathtaking vistas of the Bay. In 1988, they purchased their island paradise and spent many happy years there, building memories and exploring magical haunts like the Umbrellas, Pomeroy, and Georgian Bay Islands National Park, before deciding to go down separate paths. John and his children and their families still spend as much time as possible at the island every summer. Robin, a Camp Hurontario alumni, spends a lot of time canoeing the kids around, when they are not out zipping around in their own boats, swimming, tubing, rafting or playing basketball. In John’s own words “the place is non-stop action when the grandkids are here!” In 1994, John took over as publisher of the Toronto Star and was its chief until he retired in 2004. Now he gets to have even more time building precious memories, enjoying his place of peace and sharing his love of the Bay with his family. It’s important to John to pass along his love of Georgian Bay to his kids and grandkids. He wants to get them involved in protecting our water health and the special places that are so magical to them all. He shares the good works of Georgian Bay Forever with them and encourages them to become educated about the threats to our water from climate change, overdevelopment and the important need to keep shorelines natural. He wants them to be inspired to protect this place that brings him, and them, solace and peace; the place that one day, a long time from now, will be the final resting place of John, as his ashes are strewn around his favourite maple tree on the island that he loves so deeply. Thank you, John, for your support of Georgian Bay Forever and your deep passion for the Bay! JOHN HONDERICH LOVES GEORGIAN BAY By Amber Gordon, GBF Director of Development GBF.ORG | WINTER 2022 | 11