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James Burns McGeachy was born 26 June 1899 in Glasgow, Scotland, the son of James and Barbara (née Burns) McGeachy. His family emigrated to Canada in 1913 and settled in Saskatoon. McGeachy graduated from the University of Saskatchewan in 1918 with a Bachelor of Arts, receiving the Governor General's Gold Medal. He received a Master of Arts degree in modern history from the University of Toronto in 1919, at the age of 19. After a year of post-graduate study at Princeton University on a fellowship, he was chosen as a Rhodes Scholar for Saskatchewan. He did not take up the scholarship but instead became a reporter for the "Saskatoon Star-Phoenix", and later its youngest editor. From 1927 to 1939, he was engaged in a variety of special assignments for the Sifton family newspaper chain (which included the "Star-Phoenix" and the "Winnipeg Free Press").
After the outbreak of the Second World War, McGeachy joined the British Broadcasting Corporation as chief commentator for the BBC Overseas Service from 1940 to 1946. Through his daily broadcasts on the war, he became known as "the voice of Canada in London". He returned to Canada in 1946 and joined the "Globe and Mail" as an editorial writer but moved to the "Financial Post" in 1956 as associate editor. McGeachy wrote a weekly column for the latter newspaper but was not confined to writing about business or finance. In addition to his newspaper columns, he wrote articles for magazines and journals on international affairs and other subjects, building a reputation as one of Canada's leading essayists.
During the 1950s and 1960s, McGeachy was a familiar CBC radio and television personality. For a long time, he hosted the literary quiz show "Now I Ask You" on CBC radio with panelists Ralph Allen, Morley Callaghan, and James Bannerman. McGeachy also served as a panelist or commentator on other programs such as "Fighting Words", "This Week", and "Weekend Review". From 1951 to 1957, he was the President of Canadian Scene, a news service dedicated to providing translations of English articles for foreign language newspapers in Canada. He was a member of the Senate of the University of Toronto from 1950 to 1958.
James Burns McGeachy married Cynthia Foley on 30 November 1946 in London, England. She was the daughter of James H. Foley and had emigrated from London to Winnipeg with her family in 1922. They had no children. McGeachy died 27 August 1966 in Toronto, Ontario.
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