Financial journalist made Ottawa his home
By Joanne Chianello, Ottawa Citizen staff writer – Published on March 25, 1996
A pioneer of financial journalism in Canada and a pillar of the Ottawa community died of pneumonia early Saturday morning at Mount Sinai in Toronto. Paul Deacon was 73. The newspaper world will remember an urbane, strong-willed reporter who became one of the first investing editors at The Financial Post in 1952, working his way up to editor in 1964 and publisher in 1968, holding the two posts simultaneously until 1977. Deacon fought for more open and more frequent corporate disclosure when many firms barely reported their sales figures.
“He carried on the tradition of exposing the dark side of business and the stock market,” said Neville Nankivell, Ottawa columnist for The Financial Post and former publisher. “Paul really crusaded on behalf of the small, individual shareholders,”
Deacon, a self-effacing philanthropist, and his ballet-aficionado wife Adelle, gave 15 years of time and money to countless organizations including the Ottawa Ballet, various hospitals and the Elmwood School, a private girls’ school that his youngest daughter, Jennifer, attended in the 1980s. Before the Deacons moved back to Toronto last year under pressure from their children and six grandchildren, they set up a $500,000-trust fund with their own money, the interest distributed every year to various local charities. They just established a similar fund in Toronto.
“He made such a difference while he was here,” said Barbara McInnes, a personal friend and executive director of the Community Foundation of Ottawa-Carleton, which manages the Deacons’ charitable trust, “I feel quite devastated.”
Deacon came to Ottawa in the early 1980s to keep an eye on Maclean Hunter Ltd.’s business interests on Parliament Hill. He would fly his own plane to visit family and friends in Toronto, a passion he picked up in the Royal Canadian Air Force during the Second World war.
From the moment Paul and Adelle arrived, they considered Ottawa their home, said James Deacon, one of five children: “He was an extremely modest man. He would be mortified to know we were making such a fuss.”
But the many who knew him recall Deacon with great fondness.
Deacon saved the Michener Foundation, a fund that awards $20,000 Fellowships to senior journalists, said Clark Davey, president of the foundation, and former Citizen publisher. Deacon, president of the foundation, 1983-91, raised money for the journalism fund, a subject dear to his heart. Davey said he also gave “quite a bit of money himself.”
Of all his causes, ballet was probably most dear to him. He was president of the National Ballet of Canada, 1975-78. Paul Deacon was named president of the Michener Award Foundation in 1983. In recognition of his dedication and contribution to the journalism award-giving organization, the Foundation renamed its annual fellowship – The Michener-Deacon Fellowship. On Tuesday, March 26, 1996 Senator Richard J. Doyle paid tribute to Paul Deacon in the Canadian Senate.