Legendary B.C. reporter George Garrett dies at 89

B.C.’s media community is in mourning, after legendary reporter George Garrett passed away following a battle with cancer.

The 89-year-old died Monday night, a couple of years after he was diagnosed with squamous cell carcinoma of the skin.

More than two decades after he hung up his microphone, his name remains legendary in B.C. journalism, a field he dedicated 43 years of his life to.

From 1956 to 1999, he would come to be known as the most trusted man in B.C.

Legendary B.C. reporter George Garrett.
Legendary B.C. reporter George Garrett. (Courtesy: Facebook/George Garrett)

Once dubbed the “Intrepid Reporter,” Garrett was hailed for his legendary book of contacts and his willingness to follow a story wherever it led, including the time he was attacked covering the 1992 L.A. riots.

“I was approached by four guys who wanted the keys to my rental car and I wouldn’t give them up. So they grabbed the phone and hung it up and grabbed my microphone and ripped it out of its cord. And then they forced me into a doorway and smacked me in the nose. They broke my jaw. So that was quite an experience,” Garrett told CityNews in an one-on-one interview in 2022.

George earned much of the trust starting out on the police beat, particularly during his time at CKNW in Vancouver.

“You know, a lot of media people say, ‘Oh, the cop-shop beat is at the bottom of the ladder.’ I never thought that and I made friends with a lot of policemen and over the years, I got a lot of contacts. And then I followed politicians right from the time they were on school board or park board, city council, and up into provincial and federal — got to know them. And I would get their numbers just as a matter of course in dealing with them,” Garrett continued.

Legendary B.C. reporter George Garrett
Legendary B.C. reporter George Garrett. (Courtesy: Facebook/George Garrett)

One of those contacts led him to one of the biggest scoops of his career — how police paid serial killer Clifford Olson $10,000 for each body Olson helped them find.

“So, that’s an incidence I think the word trust really worked. And I would consider that one of my better stories,” he said.

There were also more light-hearted stories, with Garrett once recalling the time he left his wife waiting in the care while he interviewed members of a Surrey nudist camp.

“And as I arrived, I said, ‘Oh, by the way, Joan, I’ve just had to go into a nudist camp here for a few minutes. Would you like to come in?’ And she said no. And she sat in the car and she was not very happy with me. But it wasn’t the first time,” he explained.

Garrett’s 40-plus years on the beat ended in 1999, when even on his last day, he scooped the market with news Gordon Wilson was crossing the floor to become a minister in the BC NDP government of the time.

An intrepid reporter to the end, he counted lifetime achievement awards from the Jack Webster Foundation and the Radio Television Digital News Association of Canada among his accolades.

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