WINNIPEG, MB. - Our dear Joan Cohen has finally been liberated from the world of work and is giving herself some time to see life from a position of well-deserved leisure. Although she says is 29 (but only admits to 25), Joan has reached a point in her life where smelling the roses is more rewarding than writing about them.
Joan may have been bitten by the journalism bug as a student at the University of Manitoba, where was co-editor of the Manitoban and campus correspondent for the Winnipeg Free Press.
She went on to have an interesting career as a journalist, at one time working for farm newspapers. She went to Montreal early in life and worked for the Family Herald. Among her publishers and employers were Southam News Services, CBC, the Montreal Star, and the Ottawa Citizen and on three occasions the Winnipeg Free Press, where she was Ottawa bureau chief when I first met her. She was also with Observer Foreign News Service in Europe (on the production side). Over her years in the business, she interviewed many interesting people, including Pierre Elliot Trudeau and world famous Canadian Opera tenor, Jon Vickers. Early in her career, she wrote speeches for Lester B. Pearson.
Growing up, Joan had one clear ambition, she says, and that was to “always be right”. Any piece she ever wrote was as accurate as it could possibly be. She was a stickler for understanding the background and checking facts, something many of today’s “journalists” could learn a lot about. She kept her style book always at hand and made sure that consistency was uppermost. I still follow her rules instinctively.
Joan also spent several years overseas, traveling off to Rome after graduation when she was just 22. She learned to speak Italian and came to love the country as a second home. In recent years, she had occasion to return on a couple of garden tours, visiting her beloved Rome.
For the past 20 years, she has been with Pegasus, working as the first editor of Manitoba Gardener and eventually moving on to keep watch over Lifestyles 55.
Joan was a magnificent contributor to the garden galas we organized for several years on behalf of the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra. She did all the leg work in sourcing out the gardens and making sure that the gardeners understood their obligations and privileges in opening up to the Symphony crowd. These were lovely events and much of their success is owed to the hard work Joan did behind the scenes. This was right up Joan’s alley as she has always been a lover of the arts. In her early years she was a great supporter of Winnipeg Little theatre as a volunteer and was close to John Hirsch.
Joan has a refined eye for art and beauty. Her taste is impeccable and she is something of an art and artifact collector acquiring many lovely things in her travels. In later years, she formed a lasting friendship with artist Ewa Tarsia, who derives her own inspiration from the garden world. It should be mentioned that Joan is a very good gardener, herself.
This summer, we took Joan along on a tour of Manitoba from the Peace Gardens down south near Boissevain, up the Number 10 highway through Riding Mountain, then through Dauphin to The Pas and beyond to Snow Lake and finally Flin Flon. It was a gruelling four day adventure that would have exhausted many other “29-year-olds”. When we got to Snow Lake, Joan had had enough of sitting in the car and suggested we take the beers we had been graciously given at our hotel in the Pas down to the lake and the pier that jutted out over the water. There, as the sun went down, we sat with our legs out before us, laughing hysterically about nothing except for the joy of living and all being together.
What a trooper Joan is. What a trooper she has always been. We wish Joan well as she “hangs out on the streets of Winnipeg” catching up on what’s been going on out there, as she tells it. Joan says old journalists never retire so if she wants to write a piece or two for us, we will be happy to print them. If she gets too busy to do it, we will understand.
Whatever happens, Joan. Know that we at Pegasus love you and always will. Fare thee well. And thank for all you have been to us over the past two decades. Your contributions to the health of our company have been very much appreciated.
Dorthy Dobbie, Manitoba Post
Photo supplied by LifeStyles 55