They called him Bunny George


Last year, an elderly homeless man died alone at a “tent city” protest at Vancouver’s Oppenheimer Park. Despite being surrounded by hundreds, his body wasn’t discovered until the next day. Authorities searched for his next-of-kin for a month, finding no one.

Who was this man? What had happened in his seven decades and why did his life end that way, there in an East Vancouver park? My colleagues and I spent the last 14 months finding out, locating family members, friends and acquaintances, conducting dozens of interviews in three countries, two provinces and two U.S. states; we also reviewed his court and academic records, municipal files, yearbooks and genealogy websites.

The result is an 8,100-word story that runs from the ruins of postwar Germany to the surfing beaches of California, to the Air Force, to prison, and to the streets of Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside. What the investigation found was surprising – especially to the family who never knew him.

Read it at The Globe and Mail.


We won!

With Chris Parry and Mark Yuen at the 2012 Jack Webster Awards

Still beaming from last night’s Jack Webster awards, where Mark Yuen, Chris Parry, Brad Frenette and I won the award for excellence in multimedia journalism for the Gastown Project.

To preface: I’ve gone to these things many times, and have been nominated a few, but they were always for group projects I just happened to help out on. They were the brainchild of someone else. As well, I’ve just never put much weight on awards, because good stuff is good stuff and you don’t need a piece of hardware or a certificate to make it so.

What made last night’s win different was that the Gastown Project was very much a labour of love, an idea conceived from a love of the neighbourhood and a passion to do journalism, and tell stories, in a new way. Mark and I volunteered a lot of our own time, happily, and spent our own money. It was exciting. A lot of work was involved, but none of it felt like “work.” (Speaking for myself, anyway.) For anyone at all to appreciate a project that we really care about is already so lovely, let alone a foundation recognizing excellence in B.C. journalism.

Working on the project in July 2011

A big thank you goes to Vancouver Sun bosses who granted us what amounted to months to work on it — which is remarkable at a time when it’s rare for reporters to get even a week to focus on a project. As well, thank you to everyone who appeared in the project, who opened up their homes, and in many cases, their hearts, to us, telling us what were sometimes deeply personal stories that made the project what it is.

Thank you, thank you, thank you.

Chris Parry shot video of the award being announced:


If you haven’t checked out the project yet, you can do so here.