WILLIAM (Bill) JOHN MORGAN Bill Morgan was a cosmopolitan, intellectual sophisticate and leading journalist and executive who transformed the landscape of Canadian news. Born in Geelong, Australia in 1940, Bill was the youngest of four children, attending Geelong High School, before the University of Melbourne where he starred in The Pudding Thieves, one of the key works of 1960s Australian Cinema. Like many Australians of his generation, Bill made the pilgrimage, by boat, to work in England. Keen to build a better future for his new family, Bill then travelled to Canada with his first wife Heather Morgan and their daughter Abigail and taught in Killarney, Manitoba. The family later settled in Brandon (where the 324 days of sunshine per year appealed to the Australian) and welcomed their second daughter Emily. Submitting unsolicited columns, Bill was quickly recognised for his talent and formally made a columnist, before becoming the Editor of the Brandon Sun Newspaper within a year. Bill then joined the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) as a radio and later TV producer in Winnipeg. It was there that Peter Mansbridge, a young twenty-year old broadcasting rookie, met Bill, later saying, "Bill was planning the redesign of morning radio and evening television in those years and he was nothing short of brilliant." Following a move to Toronto, Bill continued to accrue a wealth of highly successful senior network management experience both in information and entertainment. From 1976 to 1980, he was TV Network Program Director, responsible for the CBC television network schedule, and ultimately for direct creative supervision of the "entertainment" side of CBC Television. In 1980, Bill was appointed Head of Television Current Affairs, where, as well as being the manager responsible for the successful development of The Journal, he was in overall charge of program series such as The 5th Estate, Marketplace, Man Alive, and Emmy and Academy award-winning documentaries like Fighting Back and Just Another Missing Kid. Known to work 12- and 14-hour days, six or seven days a week, Bill was described by his peers and managers alike as an outstanding administrator, journalist and leader who upgraded every area of current affairs. Then, as Director of News and Current Affairs for more than seven years from 1982, Bill led CBC Television journalism through probably the most transformative period in its history. Under his stewardship, the CBC became a fully modernised newsgathering operation that would act as an essential part of Canada's democracy and sovereignty. It was in this role where Bill met his future wife, the love of his life, Sheelagh Whittaker. As colleagues turned partners, Sheelagh helped Bill achieve the great dream of his working life, giving Canada its very own world news and information network. Bill played the leading role in winning the CRTC licence and developing the detailed plan for CBC Newsworld (today CBC News Network), now in its 31st year of successful operation. A rigorous advocate of journalistic ethics and integrity, Bill codified CBC's Journalistic Standards and Practices. As CBC's first Ombudsman, Bill handled audience concerns in a consistently thorough, fair-minded and professional capacity. Bill's own integrity and courage enabled the Office of the Ombudsman to represent an independent affirmation of all that is best in CBC journalism. At the conclusion of his career, Bill finally returned to England as Director, CBC London, overseeing CBC's English language activities in Europe. In his retirement, Bill's focus was on his family, supporting his wife's career and their son Nicholas' education and edification while going on to live in Canberra, Australia, and later London. As a couple Bill and Sheelagh later split their time between London, the Caribbean, Nanaimo and latterly, Toronto. Although his remarkable mind deteriorated in the last couple of years as a result of vascular dementia, Bill never lost his mischievous quick wit, good humour and tender love for his wife, his six children (including stepchildren) and nine grandchildren. Bill passed away in his sleep, peacefully and painlessly on Monday 16th of November 2020, at home in Toronto, with his wife in attendance. Bill was 80. He is survived by his wife Sheelagh Whittaker; his children Abigail Morgan, Emily Morgan (Daniel Eves), Meghan Whittaker Scott (Christina Donaldson), Matthew Whittaker Van Dusen (Allison Van Dusen), and Nicholas Whittaker Morgan; as well as his sister, niece, two nephews, grandchildren and friends. He was predeceased by his son Daniel Whittaker-Van Dusen. -30-
Published in The Globe and Mail from Nov. 21 to Nov. 25, 2020.