Allan Fotheringham

Allan Fotheringham (born August 31, 1932) is a Canadian newspaper and magazine journalist. He is widely known by the nickname Dr. Foth and styles himself as, "Always controversial... never at a loss for words" and also as "the Great Gatheringfroth".

Allan Fotheringham
Allan and Anne Fotheringham at the Canadian Film Centre BBQ (2012)
Born (1932-08-31) August 31, 1932
Other names"Dr. Foth"
Alma materUniversity of British Columbia
Spouse(s)Anne Libby

Life and career

Fotheringham was born in Hearne, Saskatchewan. He attended Chilliwack Secondary School, where he was active in student leadership. Upon graduation he studied English and political science at the University of British Columbia and worked at a variety of media outlets during his career. He was best known as a columnist, originally at the Ubyssey, a student newspaper. He was hired straight out of university by the Vancouver Sun during the heady times of the late 1960s, the final days of the old Bennett Socreds provincially and the advent of Pierre Trudeau federally. Fotheringham's columns and commentaries brought him national attention as well as wider syndication and a broader subject base. He was one of the leading specialists in explaining the world of British Columbia politics during his time at the Sun.[1]

He later wrote for Maclean's, where his column appeared on the back page of the magazine for 27 years. Fotheringham's column was so widely read and so influential that he is said to have made Maclean's "the magazine people read from back to front." Some of his more memorable political nicknames include "the brogue that walks and talks like a man" (for Jack Webster) and its offspring, "the jaw that walks and talks like a man" (for Brian Mulroney). He is credited with coining the terms Natural Governing Party for the federal Liberals, and the Holy Mother Corporation for the CBC in the course of writing his column. His columns occasionally opened with the exclamation "Zowie, Dr. Foth!"

Fotheringham also wrote columns for the Toronto Sun from 1986 to 2000.

In 2001, Maclean's underwent an editorial revamp, and Fotheringham's column was moved to an inside page to make room for a guest column. Soon afterward, Fotheringham left Maclean's, and became a columnist for The Globe and Mail. He had a national syndicated column that was in 20 newspapers, but he retired from regular contributions in 2007 due to illness. Fotheringham still writes for the Globe and also for the National Post and a Calgary magazine called The Roughneck. He has also written material for Fifty Plus magazine, Readers Digest and Nuvo magazines.

For 10 years, Fotheringham was a regular panelist in the latter years of the CBC Television program Front Page Challenge, replacing the deceased Gordon Sinclair.

Fotheringham has honorary degrees from the University of New Brunswick and the University of Saskatchewan.


Affectionately known as "Foth" as well as "Dr. Foth", he dubbed himself "the Great Gatheringfroth" and coined some well-known terms in BC political history:

  • Lotusland—British Columbia, particularly Victoria
  • the Granite Curtain—the Rocky Mountains
  • the Tweed Curtain—the Oak Bay, British Columbia-Victoria border, referring to the former's conservative British character
  • "the Brogue that walks and talks like a man"—journalist and broadcaster Jack Webster (who had many nicknames, not all of them Foth's. Foth later adapted this phrase to "the Jaw that walks and talks like a man" for Brian Mulroney
  • the Natural Governing Party—the federal Liberals
  • the Holy Mother Corporation—the CBC
  • Jurassic Clark—former prime minister Joe Clark
  • Coma City—Ottawa
  • Web-footed Conservatives- the British Columbia Social Credit Party
  • Narcissus on the edge of the rainforest - Vancouver
  • Vancouver, the Narcissus of the West Coast[2]


  • (1972). Collected and Bound. Vancouver: November House. ISBN 0-88894008-4. OCLC 725832.
  • Roy Peterson; Allan Fotheringham (1979). The World According to Roy Peterson, with the Gospel According to Allan Fotheringham. Vancouver: Douglas & McIntyre. ISBN 0-88894254-0. OCLC 6438082.
  • (1982). Malice in Blunderland, or, How the Grits stole Christmas. Toronto: Key Porter. ISBN 0-91949301-7. OCLC 9482409.
  • (1983). Look Ma — no hands : an affectionate look at our wonderful Tories. Toronto: Key Porter. ISBN 0-91949318-1. OCLC 10653091.
  • (1986). Capitol offences : Dr. Foth meets Uncle Sam. Toronto: Key Porter. ISBN 1-55013004-8. OCLC 16027895.
  • (1989). Birds of a Feather: The Press and the Politicians. Toronto: Key Porter. ISBN 1-55013166-4. OCLC 19847892.
  • (1999). Last Page First. Illustrated by Roy Peterson. Toronto: Key Porter. ISBN 1-55013995-9. OCLC 39386118.
  • (2001). Fotheringham's Fictionary of Facts and Follies. Toronto: Key Porter. ISBN 1-55263357-8. OCLC 47238252.
  • (2011). Boy From Nowhere - A Life in Ninety-One Countries. Toronto: Dundurn Press. ISBN 978-1-45970168-7. OCLC 760073216.

Quotes by Allan Fotheringham

"In the Maritimes, politics is a disease, in Quebec a religion, in Ontario a business, on the Prairies a protest and in British Columbia - entertainment." Malice in Blunderland (1982)

"The Tories are like cream: rich, thick and full of clots." Fotheringham quoting a Liberal Convention Delegate in LOOK MA...NO HANDS (1983)


  • Southam Fellowship in Journalism, 1964
  • National Magazine Award for Humor, 1980
  • National Newspaper Award for Column-writing, 1980
  • Inducted into the Canadian News Hall of Fame, 1999
  • Bruce Hutchinson Lifetime Achievement Award, 2002

See also


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