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William Weintraub, OC (born 1926) is a Canadian journalist, author, filmmaker and lecturer, best known for his long association with Canada's National Film Board (NFB).

Born and educated in Montreal, Weintraub graduated from McGill University where he had worked on the McGill Daily. He began his career as a reporter at The Montreal Gazette in the 1950s, later moving to Weekend magazine. His adventures in journalism provided the basis for Weintraub's 1961 novel Why Rock the Boat? and his 2001 memoir Getting Started. Among Weintraub's contemporaries and friends were authors Mordecai Richler, Mavis Gallant, Norman Levine and Brian Moore.

Weintraub's satirical 1979 novel The Underdogs provoked controversy by imagining a future Quebec in which English-speakers were an oppressed minority, complete with a violent resistance movement. One planned stage version was canceled before its premiere.

In a film career spanning decades, Weintraub was involved with more than 150 NFB productions, serving variously as writer, producer and director. Productions ranged from Canada: Beef Cattle to historical documentaries to a portrait of Canadian writer Margaret Laurence. Perhaps his best remembered -- and most controversial -- film was the 1993 documentary The Rise and Fall of English Montreal which dealt with the second large Quebec diaspora that began in the 1960s and accelerated rapidly after the 1976 Quebec election. The National Post wrote that he said that Torontonians should express their gratitude to a major benefactor of the city and erect a very large heroic statue at the head of Bay Street of former Premier of Quebec René Lévesque.[1]

Over the years, some critics expressed regret that Weintraub chose to focus mostly on film work, rather than devoting himself more fully to literature. But Weintraub went on to publish no fewer than four books after his seventieth birthday. City Unique (1996), an exploration of English Montreal in the 1940s and 50s, is widely admired for its evocative sense of time and place.

In 2003, he was made an Officer of the Order of Canada. The citation reads: "As a journalist, author, filmmaker and lecturer, William Weintraub has played a major role in our country's artistic and intellectual life".


  • Why Rock the Boat?: A Novel (1961)
  • The Underdogs (1979)
  • City Unique: Montreal Days and Nights in the 1940s and '50s (1996)
  • The Underdogs: A Play (1998)
  • Getting Started: A Memoir of the 1950s (2001)
  • Crazy About Lili (2005)


  1. ^ Robert Fulford. "Thank you, Montreal! Thank you, René!" The National Post 18 November 2006.


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