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Trouble at the manse

Many of my readers will be aghast to learn that the west Edmonton home of Ted Byfield, the legendary columnist and publisher, has been destroyed in a fire. The best account is in this morning’s Ottawa Citizen and adds several layers of awfulness to the news; some members of the old Byfield circle will be learning for the first time that Ted’s daughter Philippa, who has long served the family enterprises as a world-weary but witty and fun-loving supernumerary, is battling terminal illness. The Byfields are all safe and the house was insured, and Ted’s current project was found intact in the ruins on a memory stick, but many personal papers and rare books and much irreplaceable correspondence will have been lost. Perhaps the most painful blow to Alberta’s heritage is the loss of the house itself; it was a place where editors, politicians, and bishops met and found themselves talking religion and history with poor immigrants, displaced churchgoers, and a whole galaxy of brilliant oddballs of the sort that Ted has always been so good at cultivating and employing. There will probably never be another place quite like it, here or anywhere. See also the Edmonton Journal’s version of the story.


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