RSJ Alumnus and Headliner Ernest Tucker, passes away at 87

By Daniela Olariu (RSJ ’17)

Ernest Tucker, an RSJ ’54 alumnus, has died at age 87.

After his time at Ryerson, Tucker worked at the Toronto Telegram and edited The West Indian Reporter, Toronto’s first black newspaper. In 1961, he joined the CBC radio newsroom in Toronto, later moving to CBC Montreal. After receiving his master’s degree, he taught broadcast journalism at John Abbott College. Tucker retired from the CBC in the mid-1990s. He taught until 2008, retiring from John Abbott College after nearly 36 years.

During his career, Tucker covered a wide range of historical events, including writing the radio broadcast that announced the Kennedy assassination on CBC radio in Toronto, the civil rights movement of the 1960s, and the release of James Cross by Front de Libération du Québec kidnappers in December 1970. He was also fond of telling stories of the celebrities he had interviewed, including Josephine Baker, Ringo Starr and Louis Armstrong.

RSJ professor Jagg Carr-Locke started her career at the CBC in Montreal. She remembered Tucker as “…an instinctive, hardworking newsman. But he was also unfailingly kind and calm. He was a reassuring presence as I began my journalism career in the CBC Radio newsroom in Montreal nearly 40 years ago. I learned so much from him. I’m very sorry he’s gone.”

Tucker wrote two novels: Underworld Dwellers, published in 1994, and Lost Boundaries, on the police harassment of black Montrealers, published a decade later.

Tucker died of cancer at Anna-Laberge Hospital, in Châteauguay, Quebec, on January 3, 2019.

According to CBC’s obituary and The Royal Gazette’s obituary, he was the first black journalist to work at both organizations.

Tucker is thought to be the Ryerson School of Journalism’s first graduate of colour. A selection of the stories, photos and editorials he produced for The Ryersonian in his final year are below.