Publisher, rebel, philanthropist. Born Aug. 1, 1949, in St. Catharines, Ont. Died Feb. 7 in St. Catharines of cancer, aged 61.
In 1975, Henry Burgoyne walked into The St. Catharines Standard newspaper office to take a job for which he, and not his two sisters, had been destined. The only son of William and Dorothy Burgoyne, Henry became the fourth generation of his family to run the paper they had purchased for $1 in 1892.
Problem was, Henry was given the job at 26 because of the early demise of his father. Until then his formal education had included an unceremonious departure from Ridley College and a year of university in New Brunswick. With his penchant for partying and fast cars, he was more likely to go the way of James Dean than Joseph Pulitzer.
But in 1980, he hired a new managing editor with a promise that there would be a fence around the editorial department, and he'd patrol the fence to keep advertisers, politicians and the powerful away from influencing his journalists. The rebel had a cause: to serve the community well with honesty.
The paper championed the Niagara River, introducing the first environment beat in Canada, and soon it would be winning national investigative awards. In 1985, The Standard's series on the police handling of a washroom sex scandal won the top award at Canada's investigative journalism conference in Vancouver. He sent his staff first class to the conference, and the picture of them at the fete became an icon for the newsroom, encapsulating his business philosophy: Train your charges well, give them confidence, backing and something to look forward to and, most importantly, have fun.
Over the next decade journalists at the relatively small paper were nominated for three Michener Awards and five National Newspaper Awards, and won four journalist of the year awards for Ontario over five years.
Henry allowed reporters to do exposés that affected his friends, the police and the mayor, and also his advertisers, in some cases costing the paper tens of thousands of dollars in advertising. But he held strong to the belief that to love his community meant holding a mirror to it and criticizing it in a constructive way.
In stature and looks he was a cross between Jackie Gleason and Elvis Presley. Indeed, he had the former's hunger for a good party and a good laugh. Like the latter he was philanthropic, but mostly in a quiet way and often with the hundreds of employees he treated as family. He also owned so many Elvis guitars and memorabilia that he had an Elvis room in his home.
In 1996, Henry succumbed to changing times and sold the paper to Southam and Conrad Black. After the sale, the bachelor retired and split his time between Niagara and Florida, indulging in his love of family, friends, golf, tennis, frolic and fast cars.
By John Nicol, Henry's former employee.