By Amelia Buchanan and Jenna Guilbeault
Mark Anderson, an Ottawa-based freelancer and journalism professor at Algonquin College, died on Oct. 16 of complications from throat cancer. He was 51.
News of his death spread quickly and led to an abundance of heartfelt messages on social media from past and present students and colleagues.
“Mark Anderson was great teacher and friend who was still offering me guidance just a few days ago,” wrote Frankie Leclair, a 2009 Algonquin graduate, on Twitter. “Big loss for Algonquin’s budding journos.”
Michelle Ferguson, another graduate, wrote on Facebook: “Today my mentor and friend passed away. I don’t think I would have made it through j-school without you Mark Anderson. You believed in me from day one. I hope I can make you proud. And I hope there’s a big lake full of fish up there with your name on it. I’ll miss you.”
A print journalist for over 25 years, Anderson worked as a business reporter, editor and writer. The outdoors, fishing and finance were his specialities. He was a long-time columnist at the Ottawa Citizen and a contributor to magazines such as Financial Post Magazine, Explore, Outdoor Canada, Canadian Geographic and Cottage Life, among others. He was nominated for many National Magazine Awards.
Anderson began his journalistic career in the late 1980s at the rural Carp Valley Press. Despite the low pay, he considered it to be one of the best writing jobs he ever had because it was low-pressure. He reported on everything, from farming issues to local crime. A given day could find him interviewing a local 12-year-old tennis star or having tea with the white-haired ladies of the Huntley Township Historical Society.
Anderson taught journalism at Algonquin College for about eight years. According to him, his least-loved but most useful course was business journalism. He taught students the ins and outs of business so they wouldn’t have learn it on the job like he did while working at the Ottawa Business Journal, Financial Post and Bloomberg. His hard work paid off. One of his students, who cried in class for four weeks straight, ended up at Canadian Business.
In early 2013, Anderson was diagnosed with throat cancer. Colleagues and students at Algonquin College raised $6,000 for the freelancer at the Miracles for Mark fundraiser Oct. 23, 2013.
Even through his sickness Anderson was a fun-loving and good-spirited guy always ready for what insight his students had to offer.
“Mark was a great guy and an awesome teacher—it’s unfortunate he had to go so soon,” said Molly Gatt, one of Anderson’s current students. “He is a teacher that will be greatly missed among the Algonquin community.”
When he wasn’t writing or teaching, Anderson liked reading, fly fishing, cooking and playing with his garage band.
He is survived by his wife, Catherine Lindquist, and his family.