George Charles Stewart Bain wrote newspaper columns that drew the admiration of other journalists and kudos even from his political targets because of his elegant, urbane and incisive style. National Award winning journalist Val Sears once said that Bain “wrote the most important column in Canada ... (and) was the most stylish of people writing about Canadian politics.”
Ironically, Bain’s gained greatest recognition as a writer for using the “F... word” in print.
In 1968 when the late Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau swore at an opposition member in the House of Commons, most of the national media corps reported with pursed lips and respectful tenor that Trudeau had used an unspecified obscenity - or quoted the Prime Minister as claiming he had mumbled the words “fuddle duddle.” Bain set the record straight, using the notorious four letters in sequence for the first time in a major Canadian publication via his Globe and Mail column.
Although known primarily as a political journalist, George Bain did not restrict his humour to side projects like his Leacock Medal Book, Nursery Rhymes to be read aloud by young parents with old children. He injected humour and wit into his regular columns and mock newspaper reports, like his pretend Letters from Lilac, Saskatchewan . The popular writer Allan Fotheringham called Bain "the wittiest columnist ever to grace Ottawa."
A Toronto native, George Bain quit school at age 16, in 1936, to work as a copy boy at the Toronto Star during the Depression. Later, he worked at the Toronto Telegram until joining the Royal Canadian Air Force in World War II.
Bain served as a bomber pilot in Britain, North Africa, and Italy during the War despite a fear of flying that lasted his whole life.
In 1957, Bain opened the Globe and Mail's first London bureau, where he covered Europe, Africa and the Middle East. From 1960 to 1964 he was posted to Washington and reported on the civil rights movement, the Cuban missile crisis and the assassination of John F. Kennedy.
Bain was known to be a "perfectionist" who would regularly rewrite his opening paragraph 30 times.
In addition to the Leacock Medal winner, Nursery Rhymes, Bain authored other books known for their with and humour including I've Been Around and Around and Around, Letters from Lilac, Champagne is for Breakfast, and Gotcha.
In 1982, Bain and his wife Marion moved to Mahone Bay, Nova Scotia where they designed and built a home with a full wine cellar to house George’s vintage collection. He spent his final years writing about wine and serving as dean of journalism at King's College in Halifax.
The couple had a son, Christopher, who presumably benefited from the Nursery Rhymes.