Timothy Porteous R.I.P. 1933-2020

Written by  //  February 22, 2020  //  Absent Friends  //  No comments

John Timothy PORTEOUS (Obituary)
Died February 11, 2020 in West Vancouver after 14 years with Parkinson’s Disease and Parkinson’s dementia. His five decades as leader and administrator in the Canadian arts community, his steadfast integrity, his deep-seated convictions that the arts were of vital importance to Canadian society, and his principled determination to do everything in his power to foster the country’s cultural development, earned him a widespread reputation as “the cultural mandarin’s cultural mandarin.”
Over his five years at Trudeau’s side he became recognized as (in the words of his Order of Canada citation) a “top-level political strategist.” Always delighting in the wordplay that had made My Fur Lady such a hit, Tim persuaded the campaigning Trudeau to tell the nation – this was the ’60’s – that he wanted to “put some pot in every chicken.” And it was Tim who wrote the goodwill message that Trudeau contributed to a commemorative disc that was left on the Moon by the Apollo 11 astronauts in 1969: “Man has reached out and touched the tranquil moon,” he wrote. “May that high accomplishment allow man to rediscover the Earth and find peace.”
Tim served on many Boards and Advisory Committees, among them the National Theatre School of Canada, the Montréal Symphony Orchestra, Les Grands Ballets Canadiens, the National Arts Centre, National Museums, the National Gallery of Canada, Royal Ontario Museum, the Toronto Arts Council, Ontario Arts Council, the Laidlaw Foundation, the National Council of Ghanaian-Canadians, the Vancouver Art Gallery, Vancouver Youth Theatre, the West Vancouver Foundation, Arthur Erickson House and Garden Foundation, Le français pour l’avenir, and the PuSh International Performing Arts Festival.
Tim was awarded the Order of Canada in October 2003, in recognition of his public service, and received an Honorary Doctorate from Trent University in 1986.
He was married to Wendy Farris, 1968-1982 (daughter, Vanessa Bell Porteous).
He married Beatrice Donald in 1987 (son Nicholas William deLotbinière). They eventually settled in West Vancouver in 1995, at the foot of the north shore mountains and within easy reach of Whistler-Blackcomb where Tim loved to ski and snowboard. He was a devoted father to Vanessa and Nicholas. Both are carrying forward in their personalities and their careers their father’s love for them and the arts.
After his move to British Columbia Tim initiated a series of annual Stephen Leacock lunches, honouring the memory of the great Canadian humorist, and devoted much energy to the promotion of the French language in Western Canada. He was predeceased by his sister Jennifer Marriott in 2012 and is survived by his sister Camilla Ross of Vancouver.

Selwyn House Obituary
includes
A report from Timothy Porteous, Prime Minister Trudeau’s Executive Assistant, who was present during the meeting between John, Yoko and the Right-Honourable Prime Minister, Pierre Elliot Trudeau.
The meeting on December 23, 1969 between John Lennon, Yoko Ono, Pierre Elliott Trudeau and me would not have happened without the late Jim Davey, and I dedicate this mini-memoir to him. Jim, who had been one of Trudeau’s earliest supporters, was a policy advisor in the Prime Minister’s Office. He had seven teenage children and was an enthusiastic fan of John Lennon and the Beatles. It was Jim who proposed to the Prime Minister’s senior staff that we arrange a meeting between the Prime Minister and the Lennons.
November 8, 2002.

Canada Council head Timothy Porteous fought fiercely for its independence
In 1965, Timothy Porteous took a leave of absence from his law firm job to work as an assistant to Liberal industry minister Bud Drury, and he went on to do media relations and write speeches for Pierre Trudeau, who was running for prime minister.
In Timothy Porteous’s varied career as an arts administrator, writer and political aide, he brought together the worlds of politics and the arts in unique ways. While he was still at university he co-wrote a satirical hit musical that toured across Canada, and later he worked to get Pierre Trudeau elected prime minister and then served as his executive assistant. Perhaps his most enduring accomplishment, though, was his successful fight to preserve the arm’s-length relationship between the federal government and the Canada Council for the Arts, where he worked for a dozen years, including three as its director. He went on to run a number of prominent arts-related organizations.

23 March 2002
Nixon’s bushy-haired ‘bastard’ bites back
(Globe & Mail) Timothy Porteous is by no means ugly. Woolly might be a more apt description for Pierre Trudeau’s former executive assistant, who arrives for lunch at Vancouver’s Salmon House on the Hill still sporting the tall shock of bushy hair that Richard Nixon once privately scorned.
Until this week, Porteous was perhaps best known for his 12-year tenure as associate director and director of the Canada Council. But now that the U.S. National Archives has released the latest batch of secretly recorded Oval Office audio tapes, the retired career bureaucrat has gained new fame as that “ugly bastard” who made the soon-to-be disgraced president boil with rage during a state visit in 1972.

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