Many readers knew Don Bousquet through his “It’s your business” column inAlberta Farmer,and many more across Western Canada knew his voice, heard twice daily on his Farm Market News market report, broadcast on Prairie radio stations for the past 36 years.
Some may also have seen Don in person speaking at farm meetings, and if so, will know that he was not a small man. Don, who died after a battle with cancer earlier this month, loved the good things in life, and was a bit thick around the middle. My first encounter with Don was on the trading floor of the old Winnipeg Commodity Exchange. Don shared a seat with the market reporter in a spot overlooking the pits so they could see what was going on, as well as have a clear view of the prices being written in chalk on the big blackboard on the other side. To reach his perch, Don had to climb a narrow metal ladder, like you’d see on the side of a grain bin, and the final step was a bit of a challenge for someone of Don’s girth.
He and I often shared a laugh about that over lunch, of which we had several over the years. However those lunches could not be too frequent, and the time had to be carefully chosen. You didn’t want to need to have a lot of work done by the end of the day, as lunch with Don was always time for long conversation at a good restaurant, with a good meal and a bottle of wine of his choice. Don always lived modestly in an apartment, preferring to use his income for travel, invariably to France or Portugal or California or wherever he could sample fine wine and fine food. Being an “oenophile” – a collector and lover of wine – is fashionable these days, but Don was decades ahead of the fashion. He was not a “wine snob” – it was simply one of the joys in his life.
As was reporting on the grain markets, which is not necessarily an easy job. Grain traders are not always anxious to share details about their own activities in the market, and if even if they do, they need to trust the reporter’s discretion and ability to report accurately. Conversely, there have been times, especially in the wilder and woolier days of the Winnipeg Commodity Exchange, when traders were not beyond planting false information with a reporter in hopes that it will affect the market make them a few extra bucks, or get them out of a scrape. Don learned to be pretty good at spotting the decoys.
If Don had a fault as a market analyst, it was that he tended to lean to the bullish side of things. Several years ago his predictions of $10 wheat became a subject of a bit of joking by farmers, but sure enough, they eventually became a reality in 2007-08.
The bullish predictions weren’t for personal gain – Don didn’t take positions, partly because he knew it would influence his reporting. It was just that in sympathy with his farmer readers, Don wanted to see high prices so they could prosper. Don is survived by two brothers, a sister and their families. Our condolences to them, as well as to his colleagues, Dwayne Klassen, Phil Franz-Warkentin, Brent Harder and Mike Jubinville. They’ll continue Don’s work in radio and print under a new name, Commodity News Services Canada.