Bob Hunter: Canadian Hero of the Environmental Movement

Rouge National Urban Park

Born in St. Boniface, Manitoba in 1941, Robert (Bob) Lorne Hunter was a famous Canadian writer, journalist, environmentalist and TV personality, internationally celebrated as the co-founder of Greenpeace.

From an early age, Hunter exhibited talent for writing stories. By twenty, he had completed his first novel, Erebus, whose protagonist embodied the rebelliousness and disillusionment of youth of the 1960s. The novel was highly acclaimed and nominated for a Governor General’s Award in 1968. 

Bob Hunter’s career as a journalist began at the Winnipeg Tribune and later at the Vancouver Sun where he was one of the youngest journalists to be given his own column. He soon became a voice representing the counterculture of the era, particularly around environmental issues.  

Bob Hunter at work on his typewriter on the very first Greenpeace voyage. © Greenpeace / Robert Keziere

Hunter reported on and joined the first expedition of the Don’t Make a Wave Committee in 1971, which chartered the Phyllis Cormack to sail into the path of a planned nuclear test bomb in Alaska. Building on the momentum of that trip, Hunter co-founded Greenpeace later that year and embarked on many at-sea campaigns, putting his life at risk to protest commercial whaling and raise awareness for other environmental causes. As a master of media, Bob was adept at inspiring support and affecting change by building a compelling narrative around the heroic efforts of eco-warriors framed against powerful images of environmental destruction. In 1986, commercial whaling was banned globally, marking a major victory for Greenpeace.

In 1977, Hunter left Greenpeace and spent the rest of his life working as a writer and journalist, becoming a popular personality inspiring a new generation of environmental activists. Hunter wrote non-fiction books about ecology, magazine articles, as well as film and television scripts.    

Relocating to Toronto in 1989, Hunter joined City TV as an ecology specialist and later hosted Paper Cuts, a morning show broadcast from his basement, where he read and commented on the news in his bathrobe. 

Bob Hunter passed away in 2005 at the age of 63 and is survived by his wife, Bobbi, and his children, Will, Emily, Conan and Justine, as well as nine grandchildren.  

Bob Hunter Memorial Park opened in 2006 in Markham, Ontario, and serves as a tribute to Bob Hunter and his numerous contributions to the celebration and protection of biodiversity. The day-use area, trails and lands are administered by Parks Canada within Rouge National Urban Park and form a beloved spot for hiking and connecting with nature in forest landscapes and along Little Rouge Creek.  

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