About

Kevin was born in Kitchener, Ontario, on February 11, 1948 and moved to Calgary with his family as a young teenager. He fell in love with the big skies and the open attitudes of the West, and immediately became a committed Westerner.

In high school, a gifted English teacher, Miss Moira Heggerty, ignited the spark of his passion for the written word, a passion that endured throughout his life.

He graduated from the University of Calgary where he started his journalism career as the editor of The Gauntlet. He joined the Calgary Herald as a junior reporter right after university, and worked his way to the position of publisher in 1987, and was at the time the youngest publisher of a major market newspaper in Canada.

He was also president of the Southam International news service while publisher of the Herald, and was a regular member of political panels on both radio and television.

He was awarded the Harry Britten Commonwealth Journalism Fellowship in 1979, the Confederation Medal in 1992 and The Alberta Centennial Medal in 2005.

Kevin was a keen thoroughbred racing enthusiast, and took great pleasure from the Maltese Racing Stable, which he and his wife Sheila O’Brien operated for 19 years. He was a charter member of the 100 to 1 club in Arcadia, California.

He was active in the volunteer sector of the community, particularly in theatre, literary organizations and organizations providing learning opportunities for immigrants and women at risk. He gave generously of both time and treasure, and frequently mentored young people needing a leg up to get started.

Kevin had deep and abiding love of good fiction, in particular Canadian fiction. When the Giller prize was created in 1994, he was concerned that the Toronto-based jury might not give due consideration to writers from the rest of the county, so convened a Shadow Giller jury in 1995. That jury mirrored the work of the real jury, and read and reviewed all the long listed books, and published their selection for the prize the day prior to the real jury’s announcement. The Shadow Giller deliberated every year from 1995 to 2015 under Kevin’s chairmanship — and continues to this day, albeit without him at the helm.

In 2009, Kevin began his award-winning literary blog KevinfromCanada, a pursuit which gave him great joy, and a rich community, helping him create a new reality after he lost his mobility and was confined to his home for the last 10 years.

He was diagnosed with oesophageal cancer in 2014 and died on March 31, 2016.

This blog — and the Shadow Giller jury — continues without Kevin’s guiding light. It is carried on to honour his legacy in not only championing great Canadian literature, but in inspiring others to be their better selves.

(Adapted from Kevin’s obituary in the Calgary Herald.)
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