The assignment seemed prosaic: Write about British Columbia’s salmon fishery.
But while she was doing the reporting, something happened to change Edith Iglauer’s life. She met a fisherman named John Daly, fell in love, married him and moved to his house in the remote village of Garden Bay. (They also spent time aboard his 41-foot troller, More Kelp.)
With that, Ms. Iglauer’s writerly attention shifted largely to the vast nation of prairies, Arctic ice and dramatic coastlines. An American, she was one of the keenest and most eloquent interpreters of Canada for its neighbor to the south.
Ms. Iglauer died on Feb. 13 at a hospital in Sechelt, British Columbia. She was 101. Her son Richard Hamburger said the cause was pneumonia.
Ms. Iglauer had been captivated by Canada well before the salmon assignment. In the 1960s, when she was a staff writer at The New Yorker, she began exploring regions of the country that journalists rarely visited, particularly its Arctic. She wrote definitive profiles of famous Canadians like Pierre Elliott Trudeau, the prime minister at the time, and the architect Arthur Erickson. She also provided vividly detailed accounts about less prominent figures, like the workers who built a 325-mile winter ice road to the Arctic Circle.
The best known of her five books among Canadians, “Fishing With John” (1988), was both a love story about her relationship with the rough-hewn Mr. Daly and an examination of the world of commercial salmon fishermen in British Columbia.
In 1978, not five years after their wedding, Mr. Daly collapsed and died while dancing with Ms. Iglauer at a trapper’s ball in The Pas, Manitoba.
Ms. Iglauer had not yet completed her assignment, but William Shawn, the editor of The New Yorker and a friend, encouraged her to finish — a process that ultimately took many years. She said later that she believed it was his way of helping her grieve. The article ballooned into the book, which Ms. Iglauer, a stickler for accuracy, had several fishermen read before publication to vet for technical errors.
The book was the basis of the 2000 television movie “Navigating the Heart,” in which Ms. Iglauer was played by Jaclyn Smith. But Ms. Iglauer disowned the production, in part because it included a fictionalized scene of Mr. Daly (played by Tim Matheson) sinking his ship — something she believed would never have occurred.
Ms. Iglauer did not write exclusively about Canada. She was one of a handful of journalists in the 1960s who reported on the health effects of air pollution; she also wrote about public housing and other topics.
Edith Theresa Iglauer was born in Cleveland on March 10, 1917, into a prosperous family. Her mother, Bertha (Good) Iglauer, a homemaker, was originally from Wheeling, W.Va. Her father, Jay Iglauer, was executive vice president of Halle Brothers, then the city’s major department store.
The family spent its weekends horseback riding at a rustic cabin about 30 miles from Cleveland. In a 1988 interview with Alan Twigg, the publisher of the literary website BC Booklook, Ms. Iglauer said that experience later made her feel at home in the Canadian Arctic.
“When I went to the Canadian north, I went right back to my childhood — plodding along after my father in the snow, having cold feet and cold hands, and not complaining,” she said. “It’s no adjustment for me to go to the Arctic and not have a regular toilet.”
Ms. Iglauer received a bachelor’s degree in political science at Wellesley College and a master’s from the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism in 1939. It was at Columbia that she met the future New Yorker writer Philip Hamburger. They married in 1942.
In 1945 she was accredited by The Cleveland News as a war correspondent. She told the paper she planned to go to Yugoslavia, pointing out that Cleveland had a large Slavic population.
By her own admission, she didn’t really know where she was going and by accident ended up aboard a flight to Casablanca otherwise filled with male members of the military.
“The soldiers were darling to me,” she said in 1988. “They carried my luggage; they really took care of me. I was just a kid still.”
She eventually made her way to Italy and met up with Mr. Hamburger, who was there covering the war for The New Yorker. And she did eventually report from Yugoslavia as well.
The couple divorced in 1966 but continued to review each other’s work until Mr. Hamburger’s death in 2004. In addition to her son Richard, a theater director in New York, Ms. Iglauer is survived by another son, Jay Hamburger, who is artistic director of a theater company in Vancouver, British Columbia, and two grandsons.
In 1961, she became a staff writer at The New Yorker. That same year she made what was to prove a pivotal trip to the Eastern Canadian Arctic to write about the formation of the Inuit cooperatives that transformed the region’s social and economic life. Her trips resulted not only in an article but also in a book, “The New People,” published in 1966. It was later updated and twice republished as “Inuit Journey.”
In the Arctic, Ms. Iglauer again found herself in a male-dominated milieu.
“I realize now how unconsciously I entered into what was then viewed as a man’s world,” she said in a convocation address at the University of Victoria in British Columbia in 2006. “Being the only woman on those trips seemed perfectly natural.”
Of all the people she profiled, Ms. Iglauer said she found Mr. Trudeau, the father of the current prime minister, Justin Trudeau, among the most frustrating. Generally impatient with journalists, Mr. Trudeau was reluctant to give her interview time. When they did meet, over a protracted meal, she scribbled notes under the table to make sure his comments were unguarded. The article remains one of the defining looks into Mr. Trudeau’s rise to office.
After that article was published in the summer of 1969, Mr. Trudeau came to New York. On a whim, Ms. Iglauer invited him to dinner with her family at their apartment. To her surprise, the prime minister accepted. Doubling that surprise, Mr. Trudeau, who was single at the time, brought Barbra Streisand as his guest.
In 2006 Ms. Iglauer married her third husband, Frank White, a former logging truck driver, excavator operator and gas station owner. Mr. White published a memoir in two volumes, the first in 2014 and the second in 2015, the year he died at age 101.
While Ms. Iglauer made her later life in Canada, she viewed herself as someone whose writing would convey the truth about the United States to Canada just as much as vice versa.
“The still small voice of truth,” she said, “is what I hear when I am writing.”
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