ForeverMissed
Beloved sister and daughter, loyal friend and colleague, committed journalist.

Alison Downie was one of a kind; a meticulous and hard-core newshound and a kind, compassionate and generous mentor and friend.

Alison died Saturday, March 20, 2021, after a long fight against cancer.

The Downie family arrived in Canada in 1966 from Dundee, Scotland.

The family settled in Kitchener (mom Helen, dad Alistair, Alison, brother Grant and brother Alistair Jr.), with the kids growing up playing soccer, ringette and hockey. Their father coached the kids in all of these sports.

Alison excelled, playing all-star soccer and ringette and winning several provincial competitions.

With early sights on a career in journalism, she attended Conestoga College and launched her life-long career with a cub reporter position in Orangeville, Ont.

She moved on to the Sentinel-Review in Woodstock, where she rose through the ranks from reporter to city editor to managing editor.

Alison spent years at the Ottawa and Toronto Sun newspapers as city editor and as the readers’ advocate before joining the CBC as an editor on the digital news copy desk.

She was regarded as a dedicated, thoughtful editor with exacting standards who nurtured young reporters, challenged veteran ones and was a respected mentor to her colleagues.

More than this, Alison was a loyal and committed sister and friend who enjoyed long conversations and good laughs.

Alison loved her cats, loved her Pepsi, and loved good food and quiet time.

She was also passionate about live music and was THE #1 Bruce Springsteen fan. Whether seeing him on stage or listening to his albums, Alison knew all the music and probably knew more facts about Springsteen than The Boss knew about himself.

Alison leaves behind her beloved brother Alistair and sister-in-law Connie.

We will all miss her dearly.

Posted by Steve Rice on April 6, 2021
Alison was a great friend during my time at the Orangeville Banner, 1981-83. Always ready for some deep conversations and debates, but what I remember best is the laughs we shared. We fortunately remained somewhat in touch when she moved on to Woodstock, and during that time I was able to join her at the Amnesty International concert in Toronto in 1988 (Springsteen closed the show) -- a great memory. I feel lucky to have known her.
Posted by Jean Durnin on April 3, 2021
I was blessed to have Alison as a friend for over 40 years and will cherish the memories of trips, concerts, parties, Christmases and the long talks. My hope Alison is that you are now in the embrace of those who went before you, enjoying laughter, music and good food (hopefully Red Lobster). Rest in peace, dear friend. Love Jean 
Posted by Kazi Stastna on April 1, 2021
I was Alison's supervisor on the editing desk at CBC, but she was also a friend. We shared laughs and rants and commiserations about life's cruelties. The last time I saw Alison was a few weeks before she went into hospital. I did not think it would be our last visit, and looking back, it's a gut punch to think how casually I treated those precious hours. It was an ordinary sunny Sunday in March. She had texted the night before asking if I could bring her some cigarettes. Because of COVID-19, we had to meet in the underground garage of her building, which made for some absurdly funny moments as we zipped around with her wheelchair tailing cars and ducking under descending doors because we didn't have the proper access pass. We were desperate for some fish and chips from Duckworth's but were foiled by their weekend opening hours so opted for burgers. Ali was a true gourmand, and I loved that she got as excited as I do about a good lamb shank. 
With Alison on the desk, I knew I didn't have to worry about the copy she touched or blow-ups with writers or being behind on breaking news. She had my back, and she kept me honest. Editors are a cranky lot, but Ali would always pull us back when things got too dark and not let us wallow or gripe too much.
A lot has already been said about what a stellar editor and respected mentor she was, but she was also an excellent storyteller. She cracked us up with tales of concerts she attended, trips she'd been on or newsroom war stories. I'll never forget her description of her first encounter with a roundabout in Britain on a trip to Scotland with her mom and their comical efforts to navigate the roads. She came out of reporter retirement a couple of years ago to interview Andrea Demeter, the daughter of notorious killer Peter Demeter, and told her story with empathy and vivid detail, and it was a treat to have her on that side of the desk again.
Alison was incredibly strong, stoic and so dedicated. She endured so much and continued working though difficult circumstances. The pandemic made her last year so much harder and robbed us of the chance to spend time with her and, now, to properly celebrate her. She deserved better, but her remarkable legacy leaves a mark that won't soon be erased.
Posted by Andrea Janus on April 1, 2021
When I joined the network digital team in the fall of 2019, one of the things I was most looking forward to was the chance to work more closely with Ali. Selfishly, I'm sorry I didn't get that chance. But I'm so grateful for the opportunity to learn from her through her thoughtful edits of my work when I was at local. She was a tough, precise editor, yet also kind, patient and willing to explain what she was looking for and why. I hope I can live up to the standard she set in my own work, and I'll definitely be adding more Bruce to my playlists in her honour.
Posted by Leiane Cooke on April 1, 2021
Alison was one of those people whose approval you wanted. 

First, she looked like she could kick your butt if she truly didn't like you.

More importantly, she was one of those people whom I like to describe as "solid"-- no-nonsense, wise, loyal and trustworthy. 

If she considered you a friend, or even just a decent person well heck, you were doing something right.

Sitting in her pod was a delight. I'll miss her very much.
Posted by Alexandra Kazia on March 31, 2021
For Alison: Thank you. Ali. For being so kind to me, for being so funny and real and without pretence. For sharing so many stories -- especially when I was brand new at work and scared. Thanks for helping me and taking my side when I needed it. Thank you for laughing and taking me to dinner and telling me the stories about your mom and your brother. I will always think of the Coronation street story when I see it and I wish I could hear your reaction to the fact that me and one of my oldest friends recently started getting more into your fav musicians of all time. <3

For anyone else reading this: 
Alison Downie was one of the first people I met at CBC. She was kind, unfiltered and funny. She was caring and honest, and someone who helped me out right away. I don't think people realize how truly rare that sort of person is. She was open and easy to laugh with and someone who talked about real life and not just work. She spoke so lovingly of her family. She asked questions and genuinely wanted your answers. I truly have never heard a Boss song and not thought of her. She will be missed by many, that is clear. She was proof you can be strong and tough but also caring with a very soft heart. To her family, you're in my prayers.
Posted by Jessica Wong on March 30, 2021
Working as a journalist alongside Ali was a privilege. She had so much to admire: her multitude of talents, her dedication to excellence, her journalistic convictions, her evergreen curiosity and open-mindedness about the world around her, her devotion to mentoring and advising younger colleagues, her unparalleled BS detector, her impeccable ability to converse with absolutely anyone... The list is long.

Beyond that, Ali was also such a thoughtful and caring person, whom I feel better for having known. I will treasure the valuable and deep conversations we shared, her advice and kind words, and continue to mourn the loss of her.
Posted by Emily Chung on March 30, 2021
I'll really miss working with Alison. She was always had a friendly word when I passed by. She was a great editor -- sharp-eyed and thoughtful. I know science wasn't her favourite subject, but she always approached my stories with attention and dedication. She saved my butt more than a few times, catching errors, potential misunderstandings and just pointing out when things weren't clear. And she always did it in a polite and gentle way. We're all so sad to lose her.
Posted by Timothy Neesam on March 30, 2021

My condolences to Ali’s family. I knew her for the better part of a decade. She worked hard at helping people (myself included) be better with their work and always had time for me. I enjoyed her wit and sense of humour. She’s missed.

tim
Posted by Janice O'keeffe on March 26, 2021
I had the privilege of knowing Alison on the fun side of life, outside of work. We met in highschool where she was a little bit punk in her style some days and listened to British music. She introduced me to David Bowie. She had an amazing collection of tshirts as well.
When I left Ontario to move out West she gave me the Bruce Springsteen album 'Born to Run'. That was in 1979. Alison visited me on Vancouver Island a couple times watching my kids grow up over the years always interested from a distance. One visit when I was a young Mom and listening to mostly kids music, she said, 'you know U2 is playing in Vancouver?'. I didn't know any of the music but we spontaneously got a couple tickets and off we went to Vancouver on an overnighter to see U2 playing The Joshua Tree.
She was intelligent, controversial and loved a good debate. She was fearless and found so many things funny. She was a solid soul.
It was a pleasure to read all of these tributes from co workers seeing how she helped shape many lives through working careers.
So many of us will miss you dearly Alison. Whoever took the photo that looked like a cartoon character of her staring seriously into the camera with a smoke in her hand pegged her perfectly. I'll have nothing but fond memories forever. RIP my friend. You were a warrior who lived your life well.
Posted by Spencer Walsh on March 26, 2021
Ali you are missed so much. Your kindness and goodness always came through. A old soul, as they say. Seeing all lives you touched and the stories they have is just amazing and says everything about you and the person you were. My deepest condolences to your family.
Posted by Richard Burden on March 26, 2021
Like everyone else I was devastated to learn of Alison's sad passing. We may have lived thousands of miles apart but she was a true friend and confidante for many, many years. Our paths first crossed in February 1992 at the Sentinel-Review in Woodstock. She took me under her wing as a cub reporter and being the new kid in town devoted a lot of time outside the workplace to showing me around, cinema outings, evenings in the pub, trips to London and weekends with other friends in Toronto to socialise and see the sights. She gave me sound advice and was a very special person, dubbing herself my 'pseudo-mom'. She was an inspirational person and great to learn from. Alison was at the top of her game as a reporter and editor, fearless but fair, but where she excelled in my eyes was as a friend, and you could ask for none better. I returned to Canada for a month in 1995 to visit and stayed in Toronto and Alison again was there to take me on a tour of the Canadian National Exhibition - I had my first snow cone! - and I was delighted to win a stuffed cow which she was thrilled with. We stayed in touch over all those years and, while Alison had visited her native Scotland many times, she finally made the decision in 2013 to come that little bit farther to Ireland for the first time. The fact that Bruce Springsteen was playing was an added bonus!! We stayed in the Europa in Belfast (which she informed me, having researched it, was the most bombed hotel in Europe) and that was to be our base for one of the most memorable weeks I ever had. In the middle of a heatwave too. We toured the bars around Belfast and became regulars over those seven days, while taking daily trips to the Giants Causeway, Titanic Centre, Carrickfergus Castle, and to the village of Bushmills, home of the famous Bushmills Whiskey. She toured the Crumlin Road Gaol with myself and my fiancee Hazel, who also enjoyed getting to know her that day; Alison was one of those people that once met made a lasting impression and it was as if she and Hazel had known one another for years. The highlight of Alison's Ireland tour was seeing her beloved Bruce on a blistering hot Saturday – from the pit in front of the stage. She was buzzing and said it was the closest she ever got to her idol and the three-mile walk back to Belfast city centre afterwards was a small price to pay. It was a wonderful week. Over the years I have immensely enjoyed our random ramblings - music, politics and putting the world to rights - and it was great to know Alison was always there; the time difference meant that you could send a message and not get a reply for hours but it was a constant two-way flow and both knew that the other was never far away, literally if not physically. I was so proud to be her 'favourite Irishman'. I know Alison may have left us now but I think she made such an impression that she will live on within each one of us in different ways. I will treasure and cherish precious memories always. She was a very funny, kind-hearted, courageous and loyal person and I will be forever grateful to have had her in my life.
Your pain now is over. Rest easy Alison, my dear friend. xo
Posted by Cecilia Deck on March 25, 2021
Alison was my mentor at the Woodstock Daily Sentinel Review, and we kept in touch through many jobs and moves and Springsteen albums and concerts and laughs. A true friend with a huge heart.
Posted by Andre Mayer on March 25, 2021
Alison, you were such a pillar of the online news team - so wise in the art and craft of journalism, and an incredible teacher. Also, you had just about the driest wit. Such a loss for our team and the organization.

I know the last couple of years were indescribably hard for you. Rest easy now.
Posted by David Lamb on March 25, 2021
When I came to the digital team I didn't know much about how things worked. Alison was generous and patient with me as I learned. I could tell from the start that she was the sort of person who wouldn't put up with anyone's crap, but was more than happy to help someone get better at what they do.

DML
Posted by Wendy Crooker on March 24, 2021
So many good times, laughs, debates, endless hours of conversation and exchanges of wit and sarcasm...finally someone who understood my sense of humour! Al and I met as cub reporters for opposing newspapers in Orangeville and for that moment in time I am blessed. There’s a hole in my ❤️ that I will try to fill with 40 years of fabulous memories until we meet again my friend! I love you!
Posted by Kerry Wall on March 24, 2021
The many evenings I spent sitting across from Ali on the CBC News web desk were an enormous privilege. When it was busy, we got to watch a real master at her craft. Stories became tighter, leads became sharper, and the important details shone. When it was slow—and the evenings could sometimes be very slow—it was wonderful to just be around this amazing woman with lightning-fast wit who was always willing to listen, offer advice, or tell war stories from her newspaper days. (I once very casually asked her how many Bruce Springsteen concerts she'd been to. She said, equally casually, that she was no longer sure because she'd lost count, but it was well into the fifties. I'll never forget how much she laughed at my facial expression.)

I was lucky. We all were. And I'll miss her very much.
Posted by Jonathan Ore on March 24, 2021
I learned more about journalism through osmosis sitting next to Ali and the rest of the copy desk at the CBC building than I did in most of my years in j-school. In retrospect I'm astonished at the patience she displayed answering my rookie questions. I wouldn't be the writer I am today without her help and guidance. I trusted her judgment over any company guide book or style manual. She was tough as nails and cool as heck.
Posted by Sheena Goodyear on March 24, 2021
I won't lie. When I first met Alison, she scared me! She was a tough, no-nonsense copy editor and she gave me the what-for more than a few times when I was just a scared baby starting at the CBC.

But my God, did I ever learn from her. She had high standards and she held me to them. And even if she was telling me off, she always took the time to explain what I was doing wrong and how to do it better.

Her edits made my stories better. Her guidance made ME better. The lessons she taught me are ones I still practice today. Hearing her voice in my head pushes me to be vigilant and thorough. I wish I had taken the time to tell her what a difference she's made in my writing and my career.

But more than all of that, I quickly learned that beneath her tough exterior, Ali was kind, thoughtful and FUN. I really miss her.
Posted by Laura Fraser on March 24, 2021
When I moved back to Toronto to take a job at CBC, I found a mentor, a friend and a champion in Ali. She took me under her wing, saying I was good at what I was doing and then told me -- with equal parts frankness and kindness -- the things I needed to learn in order to be great. One of those things, as far I'm concerned, was having her as an editor. She was assigned to be my editor as I covered the Jian Ghomeshi hearings, gruelling work made much stronger by her sharp eye. But it was the fact that she checked in with me every day -- and for several weeks afterward -- to make sure I was taking care of myself that is what stays with me. While some people ask how you're doing out of courtesy, Ali was always completely genuine: she took the time the listen and gave honest advice.
I can't say how much I'll her miss her kindness, her experience and her ability to make people laugh. There is no one like her.
Posted by AMY HUSSER on March 24, 2021
Simply put, Ali was good people. She was a talented editor, a much-loved colleague and an excellent conversationalist. I always enjoyed a shift spent seated next to Ali, because I knew it'd be one passed with ease. She was a no-nonsense, hard worker who didn't shy away from a challenge and always strived to make things better -- but she also took the time to check in, lend an ear, and share a story or a joke. She will be so, so missed. 
Posted by Beverly Wareham on March 24, 2021
I am so saddened to learn of the passing of Alison! We were Neighbors in The Beach in Toronto many years ago and quickly became friends! Our birthdays were 3 days apart and we shared so many chuckles and great soul talks while we were both fighting the “C” beast! She was funny, grounded, smart, kind and oh so cool!! We had a great connection! She also found a stray cat for me! He was a gorgeous ginger tabby who we called “Max”. I know that Bruce was her Icon but we shared a love for “Bowie” as well! “The stars look very different today” RIP my beautiful friend! Love You!
Posted by George Czerny on March 24, 2021
Working with Alison Downie during my four years at the Daily Sentinel-Review in Woodstock, Ontario, I knew that she was an uncompromising professional in the newsroom and a fun-loving, friend-to-many outside the newsroom. The accolades expressed in aforementioned tributes tell the story of love and respect for Alison. For many of us who have worked in jobs that involve the public, every once in a while you meet somebody who is exemplary at her, or his, job, a great person and a pleasure to know. Alison was one of those people.
Posted by Beth Faulkner on March 24, 2021
I worked with Allison at the Sentinel Review! She always had a good work ethic and it showed by the awards our newsroom won!!
Always a pleasure to talk to and sure she will be missed by many people but with certainty she taught many other reporters ALOT over the years. RIP Allison
Posted by Erica Johnson on March 23, 2021
The first time I heard Ali's voice - when she called to discuss my Go Public story - I was scared. This was a no-bullshit, been around the block voice. She knew her stuff, and my stuff was apparently (and consistently) about 800 words too long ("You know I've got a train to catch tonight, right?"). But it didn't take long to learn Ali was so much more than an extremely talented editor - she was warm and inquisitive, thoughtful and about as dry-wit funny as they come. As times got harder, I learned how brave Ali was, too. Fighting hard and still looking for a glimmer of hope...still finding the absurd and hilarious in life.
A candle has gone out and I am so damn sad. Hugs, my friend. You made the world a better place. xo
Posted by Sherry Noik on March 23, 2021
Our brilliant and brave Ali, with the sharp mind and a tongue to match. She was a supportive colleague, a wonderful ally and a lovely person. And she had the best rock n’ roll t-shirt collection of anyone I know. My sincerest condolences to Ali’s family. I hope you can find some comfort in the knowledge that she was loved and respected by so many people.
Posted by Phyllis Coulter on March 23, 2021
I worked with Alison in Woodstock for a decade, but she impacted my life forever. She challenged me, made me think, made me laugh. Alison was the definition of a good editor, good friend and absolutely the coolest person I ever met. The comments here show how much love and respect she has by all those whose lives she has touched.
Posted by Betty Searle on March 23, 2021
To Alison's family my sincere condolences. Your sister was a good friend from the time she moved to Woodstock and we were so happy when she moved back to Southern Ontario and was close enough to spend some weekends at our cottage. She was very intelligent, tough as nails on the outside sometimes but a soft, kind person to the core, with an amazing sense of humour. She was highly respected and admired too by my late husband who also started his career as a cub reporter at the Orangeville Banner but switched to the practice of law in Woodstock. Jim often turned to Alison for her opinion on how a trial was going and valued her responses - most of the time - but always admired her honest reporting. Our loss is heaven's gain and in the words of our youngest daughter "It's sad for Alison's family and friends that she has passed away but I'm happy that Dad will have her company in heaven and be able to share lots of laughs with her."
Posted by Paul Gorbould on March 23, 2021
Like so many, I also owe my journalism career to Alison. She took me on and patiently guided me when I was a know-nothing intern at the Woodstock Daily Sentinel-Review, gently explaining what a lede was, and how to not take photos with flagpoles sticking out of people's heads. She assigned me everything from the opening of a Taco Bell to covering a Billy Ray Cyrus concert - and even loaned me her car to get there. We both eventually ended up at CBC.ca, and while our paths didn't cross as often as I'd have liked, she was always kind and professional in everything she did. We'll miss her so much, and keep building on her legacy. She made us all better.
Posted by Victoria Valido on March 23, 2021
I'll always remember Ali as being welcoming, kind, and just a genuinely lovely human :) I joined the CBC News network social team for a brief time a few years ago and my seat was across from Ali. Nervous working with a new team, she made me feel so welcome sitting with the copy desk and I enjoyed our daily chats :) I moved on to a new position after a few months and Ali was so supportive and sent me off with a sweet card that I have kept to this day :) It meant so much to me that she even took the time to do that. She has touched so many and will be so missed :(
Posted by Nicole Riva on March 23, 2021
I always loved having a chat with Ali. Whether we were talking about the news or music or whatever else was happening, she always had a story. I both loved and feared filing a piece to Ali. I knew it would come back better, but I didn't want to let her down. I'll always remember how. much she enjoyed working with reporters on stories, especially court pieces. I wish I'd had an editor like Ali early in my career. And as much as helping everyone grow, she never lamented the simple part of being a copy editor -- catching spelling or style errors and typos.
She was a great egg. We will miss her dearly.
Posted by Lara Schroeder on March 23, 2021
Alison and I both worked at the Toronto Sun but it was when she moved over to the CBC that I really got to know her as we both worked the evening copy editing desk. She had exacting standards and both shared her knowledge generously and worked hard to learn whatever she didn't already know -- I leaned on her for her terrific knowledge of courts and crime reporting, and she'd ask my opinion on style points as she learned the CBC ropes. Better than that, though, were the trips down to the food court for a meal or the chats about her garden and cats. My condolences to the family on the loss of someone who just kept striving for better, no matter how much she already knew or how good the story already was. She made her mark by making others better.
Posted by Mike Clarke on March 23, 2021
I'd been in news nearly 30 years when I first met Alison while making the transition to digital copy editor. She was a wonderful source of knowledge and information to me in the early days of web here, never judgmental, firm in her convictions but always helpful.

She was tough as nails but also soft and sweet.

Being of somewhat similar ages (I was a little older) we shared more than a few war stories, punctuated mostly by laughter.

Years ago, when I made the pilgrimmage to CBC for some writing and copy editing courses, I made it a point to seek her out.

I'm going to miss her candor, her humour, her friendship and her heart of gold.
Posted by Chris Carter on March 23, 2021
I owe the start of my journalism career to Alison. She agreed to take me on as a summer intern at the Woodstock Sentinel-Review after my journalism school application was rejected. I cold-called her from a payphone, she said yes, I went back upstairs and quit my temp job and started a week later. She didn't just tolerate me in her newsroom, she threw me lots of work and lots of advice and guidance. She was intimidating for a few weeks, sure, but as many of you know and have said, "gruff" was just the exterior. When we both ended up at the CBC, I so appreciated her patient phone calls - some times as a heads up, sometimes to talk things out - and more importantly the chance to visit her on the digital desk any time I was at Toronto HQ. Thanks for everything, Ali.
Posted by Brenda m on March 23, 2021
Alison - kudos to us for carrying on an inside joke about respect in the workplace ever since we met at that session what... 15 years ago? Of course I can't tell the joke here because other CBCers will read it but rest assured I had all kinds of respect for you and your work. This workplace will miss you. My condolences to your family and friends. 
Posted by Andrew Davidson on March 23, 2021
Ali was the kind of editor you pray you'd get — brilliant, patient and endlessly kind. These same qualities, along with her mischievous sense of humour, made her a wonderful human and a good friend.

We love you and we miss you, Ali. May every night in Heaven come with a front-row Bruce ticket.
Posted by Susan Noakes on March 23, 2021
I worked with Alison for 15 years at CBC, first as a writer and then as an editor. She always made your story better and did it in a way that challenged you as a writer and made you think harder next time. She was fun to work alongside as an editor, a real character with a tart tongue and wonderful breadth of knowledge. Rest in peace, friend.
Posted by Trudy Elliott on March 23, 2021
Alison and I were friends for over 30 years. We became good friends when we both worked at The Woodstock Sentinel Review in the late 80's. I will miss our live music extravaganzas, our trips to Kensington Market for fish tacos, our talks about the state of the world among other things. But those do not compare to the fact I will miss your loyalty as a friend, your thoughtfulness and just your genuineness as a human being.
Stay cool my friend!
Love,
Trudy xo
Posted by Marlene Habib on March 23, 2021
It started with Ali encouraging everyone she knew - and I mean everyone - to sign on to get emails to enter a lottery to buy cheap tickets to see Bruce on Broadway. Ali was on the Springsteen New York City hunt. I signed up and lo and behold, I snapped up two tickets. Ali was so excited she couldn't help but hover over me at my desk, which was alongside Ali's for many years as we both were among the first editors on the CBC's Copy Desk. So what did we do? Well we planned a trip to the Big Apple. That was about three years ago. The dedicated traveller she was, she boarded that overnight bus (while I flew because I was a suck). We landed in downtown NYC, and the excitement on her face was so big that she lit up all of Times Square. She told me it was absolutely one of the biggest highlights of her life. On that same trip, we took in the David Bowie Is exhibit in Brooklyn. We were both living our rock dreams. I shared many a dream realized with Ali - I'll always love her and miss her. She lived life to its fullest despite all her health challenges in the last years of her life - a lesson learned for everyone. Love you my friend - and will always remember all the heart-to-hearts and other times we shared.
Posted by Christine Boyd on March 23, 2021
Ali was a diamond and I'm so sad she's gone. I first met as her supervisor on the network digital copy desk, where Ali shone for her news judgment, common sense, integrity and commitment to making stories as solid as they could possibly be. She cared so much about being a good editor and helping writers make their stories shine. She was also a friend. I can't count the number of times we shared a joke while she was having a smoke outside on John Street. She made my life and those of so many others better as a colleague and a friend. She'll be missed.
Posted by Marc Tapper on March 23, 2021
To the family.
I adored Alison. She was a mentor and a great friend. She had no problem telling you to jump in the lake and then pausing to help. Her spirit lives in me and I will always love her for giving me that. If I learned anything from Ali it was vigilance and courage. 
I cannot imagine your loss, but I am living mine.
Great soul, great journalist and a great colleague.
I will always miss her on Hay Day and more.
Posted by Kristy Rich on March 23, 2021
I was so saddened to learn of Ali's passing. During my time on the web desk, I always enjoyed our conversations and knew that my story was going to come out improved. She was curious, thoughtful, and a lovely soul. She will be missed.
Posted by Brodie Fenlon on March 23, 2021
I feel very lucky that our paths crossed more than a few times over the decades. I can still remember being interviewed over the phone by Alison, then a reporter with the Sentinel-Review, and I as a kid in elementary school performing in the local community theatre in Woodstock. It was my first big break and Alison was there for it :) We worked together at The Sun and The CBC. She was a consummate professional, dedicated to the craft, with no pretensions. She was intimidating at first pass until you heard her laugh or saw her smile and you realized there was a big softie under that exterior. She was a good person and will be dearly missed.
Posted by Melinda Dalton on March 23, 2021
I came to CBC after working as the court and crime reporter at the newspaper in Kitchener and immediately hit it off with Ali. We both had a lot of respect for a well-written hard news story and I'll forever value the lessons she taught me and the effort she always put in to improving my storytelling. I'm so sorry to hear of her passing in this incredibly difficult time. She was one of kind.
Posted by cheryl krawchuk on March 23, 2021
Ali D was straight-up cool. She could probably hold her own talking to anyone from the Queen of England, all the way to the toughest biker bar. When she came to your desk as an editor, her approach was kind and respectful and positive, even if she was coming to tell you your story really, really sucked. I will miss talking to her about cats, about Bruce, or some good old work gossip. My condolences to her family. She was a wonderful person.
Posted by Sheila Rider on March 23, 2021
Alison will be greatly missed. She was not only a great journalist but also a truly great person with a lovely sense of humor.
I only got to know her later on in her career. I am grateful for her friendship. We are all so heartbroken. 
Posted by Rachel Maclean on March 23, 2021
You were absolutely an amazing copy editor to work with, and a great human and friend. I really appreciated your guidance and help while I was a junior reporter. You will be missed.
Posted by Jennifer Harris on March 23, 2021
Alison Downie, you were Tougher Than the Rest. We didn't make it to the Seaside Serenade in Asbury Park, so tonight I will look up past the stars to the heavens and listen for the angels' harps playing Thunder Road.
So long for now, my friend. Save me a spot in the pit.
Posted by Katie McConnell on March 22, 2021
Alison was by far one of the coolest people I knew- she had a tough exterior, with a heart of compassion and love. She was like another aunt to me. I might not have known her as well as some, but getting to know her for the few years I did was an honor.

I love you Alison,

- Katie

Leave a Tribute

 
Recent Tributes
Posted by Steve Rice on April 6, 2021
Alison was a great friend during my time at the Orangeville Banner, 1981-83. Always ready for some deep conversations and debates, but what I remember best is the laughs we shared. We fortunately remained somewhat in touch when she moved on to Woodstock, and during that time I was able to join her at the Amnesty International concert in Toronto in 1988 (Springsteen closed the show) -- a great memory. I feel lucky to have known her.
Posted by Jean Durnin on April 3, 2021
I was blessed to have Alison as a friend for over 40 years and will cherish the memories of trips, concerts, parties, Christmases and the long talks. My hope Alison is that you are now in the embrace of those who went before you, enjoying laughter, music and good food (hopefully Red Lobster). Rest in peace, dear friend. Love Jean 
Posted by Kazi Stastna on April 1, 2021
I was Alison's supervisor on the editing desk at CBC, but she was also a friend. We shared laughs and rants and commiserations about life's cruelties. The last time I saw Alison was a few weeks before she went into hospital. I did not think it would be our last visit, and looking back, it's a gut punch to think how casually I treated those precious hours. It was an ordinary sunny Sunday in March. She had texted the night before asking if I could bring her some cigarettes. Because of COVID-19, we had to meet in the underground garage of her building, which made for some absurdly funny moments as we zipped around with her wheelchair tailing cars and ducking under descending doors because we didn't have the proper access pass. We were desperate for some fish and chips from Duckworth's but were foiled by their weekend opening hours so opted for burgers. Ali was a true gourmand, and I loved that she got as excited as I do about a good lamb shank. 
With Alison on the desk, I knew I didn't have to worry about the copy she touched or blow-ups with writers or being behind on breaking news. She had my back, and she kept me honest. Editors are a cranky lot, but Ali would always pull us back when things got too dark and not let us wallow or gripe too much.
A lot has already been said about what a stellar editor and respected mentor she was, but she was also an excellent storyteller. She cracked us up with tales of concerts she attended, trips she'd been on or newsroom war stories. I'll never forget her description of her first encounter with a roundabout in Britain on a trip to Scotland with her mom and their comical efforts to navigate the roads. She came out of reporter retirement a couple of years ago to interview Andrea Demeter, the daughter of notorious killer Peter Demeter, and told her story with empathy and vivid detail, and it was a treat to have her on that side of the desk again.
Alison was incredibly strong, stoic and so dedicated. She endured so much and continued working though difficult circumstances. The pandemic made her last year so much harder and robbed us of the chance to spend time with her and, now, to properly celebrate her. She deserved better, but her remarkable legacy leaves a mark that won't soon be erased.
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