Award-winning author and journalist Heather Robertson died of cancer Wednesday morning, her 72nd birthday.
Born in Winnipeg, Robertson began her career at the Winnipeg Free Press, and published her first book, Reservations are for Indians, in 1970. She went on to publish three more works of non-fiction in the 1970s and early 1980s, detailing the plight of Western farmers, homesteaders in Western Canada, as well as Winnipeg bank robber Ken Leishman.
Robertson shifted to fiction in the 1980s, penning a trilogy revolving around real people during the years of former prime minister William Lyon Mackenzie King. Willie, A Romance, the first of the trilogy, garnered Robertson the Books in Canada Best First Novel award.
In the 1990s, Robertson turned back to non-fiction, writing on topics such as the wives of prime ministers, hospital care, Lake of the Woods and more while writing for magazines such as Chatelaine, Saturday Night and Macleans. Among her awards was an honorary doctor of laws degree from the University of Manitoba in 1998.
In addition to her own writing, Robertson was a founding member of the Writers’ Union of Canada as well as the Professional Writers Association.
In 1996, Robertson launched a class-action lawsuit against Thomson Corp., publisher of the Globe and Mail, after freelance articles she had submitted for print publication in the Globe also appeared in online databases.
The case went to the Supreme Court of Canada, who ruled magazines and newspapers did not have the right to index print articles electronically without the writer’s consent, as the online product was a different entity and was therefore infringing on the creator’s copyright.
Robertson lived in King City, Ont. She is survived by her husband, Andrew Marshall.