NEWMAN, PETER CHARLES (1929– ), Canadian journalist, author, biographer. Newman was born into a prosperous Jewish family in Vienna, Austria. In 1940 he and his family escaped Nazi Europe when his father, a wealthy Czech factory owner, obtained a rare Canadian visa by promising to buy a farm through the Canadian Pacific Railway. Their ship to Canada, a converted cruise ship, was twice attacked by German U-boats before landing at Halifax's Pier 21. Newman later wrote about Pier 21, the "place where we became Canadians," describing the depth of feeling and expectation of refugees like himself arriving in the "new world." A refugee child, in 1944 Newman was enrolled at Toronto's elite private Upper Canada College. He went on to study at the University of Toronto and to a career in journalism and as an author of Canadian biography and history. While he continued to see himself as something of an outsider, he came to know many in the Canadian political and financial establishment. Newman interviewed every prime minister of Canada since Louis St. Laurent. He also served as editor-in-chief of one of Canada's most important newspapers, the Toronto Star, and editor of Canada's foremost news magazine, Maclean's.
A fellow writer described Newman as the "chronicler and conscience of a country often confused by its identity and perhaps the most influential journalist Canada has ever known." He remained widely respected for his intimate understanding of Canadian business and politics and of those who wield power in Canadian society. He wrote numerous articles and more than 20 books, mostly biography and history, including a biography of the prominent Canadian Jewish *Bronfman family, The Bronfman Dynasty: The Rothschilds of the New World (1978).
In 1978 Newman was named an Officer of the Order of Canada and in 1990 a Companion of the Order of Canada. His autobiography, Here Be Dragons: Telling Tales of People, Passion and Power, was published in 2004.