Dorothy Grant’s passion for writing never wavered, no matter where her life took her.
Growing up in a working-class Halifax neighbourhood, she would always take joy in writing, vowing to pursue it when she was older.
“Even when I was a little girl, I read a lot,” she says. “I went to Tower Road School … I was walking down the street [and] I always said when I grow up, I am going to be a writer.”
Her aspirations took a temporary backseat as she followed in her family’s footsteps and trained to become a nurse and worked at the old IWK. After she returned from New York, Grant pursued her dream.
Now in her eighties, Grant is a regular contributor to Halifax Magazine, sharing her memories, stories of local history, and profiles of Haligonians.
Her journalism career has touched lives. During a 22-year stint with CBC as a consumer affairs reporter, she tackled challenging investigative stories. One of the stories that has continued to resonate with her was a case of criminal fraud, when a Bedford business sold falsely labelled low-quality meat at prime prices.
She also worked for many years as a nurse, where she honed her empathy and listening skills. At the IWK, she found the story that affected her most. Those experiences became the catalyst of one of her first documentaries, called The Other Child, which gained international attention.
“I was in the OR,” she recalls. “I met a plastic surgeon, and I liked him. One day, while I was there, he took me to the burn unit where I saw this girl, and oh my gosh, she and her sister had been in a house fire. The sister died, but she had incredibly devastating facial burns. I was moved; her whole life was traumatic. It changed.”
As a reporter, Grant always aimed to help others. Writing for the Medical Post, she learned to couple that with careful research.
“One thing as a reporter I was always conscious about was having my facts right,” she says. “I was aware of people making mistakes. I was dealing with scientists and innovative breakthroughs. Every article is a challenge. I had the opportunity to share information with people.”
She cites many role models and mentors. But the person that had the biggest impact on her career was former provincial archivist Phyllis Blakeney. “One of the first articles I wrote about was Phyllis,” she says. “I loved her: she was always giving me ideas, she was an inspiration. I loved history, and she got me involved in history.”
Nova Scotia’s longest serving journalist continues to write for Halifax Magazine and is penning another book.
“I love it,” she says. “I’m in my eighties, and I am still writing. To be quite candid, I can’t sit around. I really can’t vegetate. I tease my husband and say just before they cremate me, I will say to Bill, ‘just a minute, I have to finish an article.’ “