Forty-six years later those words still ring true: there has since been no book that has brought to life early Calgary the way that Eye Opener Bob does. Perhaps more importantly, it's the closest we'll ever get to Robert Chambers Edwards—Eye Opener Bob —the irrepressible editor of Calgary's most singular newspaper, and the city's most singular denizen.
Bob Edwards was a true Canadian original, the prototypical hard-drinking, pull-no-punches editor of the Calgary Eye Opener—at the time the largest paper between Vancouver and Toronto, with a circulation of over 30,000 copies. A paper with the power to elect or dethrone governments, to bring the mighty CPR to reform its ways, and to skewer the pretensions of society like few before or since. Eye Opener Bob brings this fascinating character to life in all his glorious self-contradictions.
MacEwan arrived in the city at just the right time to write Eye Opener Bob—the old Sandstone City hadn't yet been whitewashed over by the new money from the Leduc gusher, and there were still living people who had known Edwards. MacEwan ferreted out their stories as only he could do, combined the interviews with hard research, and the result is Grant MacEwan's best book by a country mile.
Eye Opener Bob can be enjoyed on its own or as a companion piece to the new compilation of Edwards's writing, Irresponsible Freaks, Highball Guzzlers, and Unabashed Grafters: A Bob Edwards Chrestomathy.
John Walter Grant MacEwan was born in 1902 near Brandon, Manitoba, grew up near Melfort, Saskatchewan, and was educated in Guelph, Ontario and Ames, Iowa. He served on the faculties of the Universities of Saskatchewan and Manitoba, as mayor of Calgary, and as lieutenant governor of Alberta.
Renowned across Canada as a livestock judge and lecturer on agricultural topics, he became a tireless advocate of conservation and regional historical awareness, themes which drove his astonishing output of writing.
The man described as "the Western Canadian of the Twentieth Century" died on June 15, 2000.