Three Cheers for Donald Jack

Born on Dec. 6, 1924 in Radcliffe, Lancashire, England, Donald Lamont Jack was one of four children born to a British doctor and a nurse from Canada.

One of his two non-fiction books was about medicine, Rogues, Rebels and Geniuses.  The other was the history of the Toronto radio station CFRB, Sinc, Betty and the Morning Man.
While stationed in Germany with the RAF in the last year of the Second World War,  Jack attempted short-story writing, but saw few opportunities in Britain and moved to Canada in 1951 to look for work.

Donald Jack’s first jobs in Canada ranged from a worker in survey crew in Alberta to a bank teller in Toronto.
While in Toronto, he studied at the Canadian Theatre School and wrote two plays, which led to a job offer in the script department of Academy Award-winning Crawley Films in Ottawa. Two years later in 1955, the company's head, Budge Crawley, unsatisfied with Jack’s writing ability dismissed him.
Out of work, he tried freelancing with little success for two years.
In 1957 Donald Jack sold the play version of his novelette Breakthrough , published in Maclean's, to CBC Television. It became the first Canadian TV play to be simultaneously telecast to the United States.
His third play, The Canvas Barricade, won first prize in the Stratford Shakespearean Playwriting Competition in 1960. Produced in 1961, it was the first original Canadian play performed on the main stage of the Stratford Festival.

Mr. Jack's Leacock medals came for three volumes of The Bandy Papers : Three Cheers for Me , in 1963, That's Me in the Middle , in 1974 and Me Bandy, You Cissie , in 1980.
He was not yet a Canadian citizen when he wrote the first Leacock medal winning book.
Mr. Jack wrote 40 TV plays, several radio plays and four stage plays.  He also wrote 35 documentary film scripts, including Royal Canadian Navy and Canadian Armed Forces training films for the National Film Board.  These works often demanded a great deal of research.

Mr. Jack wrote with military discipline, beginning at 9 a.m., taking tea at 11 a.m., lunch


at 1 p.m., tea again at 3 p.m. and finishing at 5 p.m.   Jack said his dedication and discipline came from "reminding myself of how lucky I am to be able to be the only thing I ever really wanted to be -- a writer."

During the early 1980s when his wife Nancy became ill, the couple returned to England to be near their daughters and their grandchildren.  Nancy died in 1991.

At the time of his death in 2003, Jack had started writing again and was working on the ninth volume of The Bandy Papers. He died of a massive stroke at his home in Telford, Shropshire, England.
 
From Obits, National Post, Globe and Mail, Others June 2003