Dorothy (Ryder) Dearborn was born in Saint John, New Brunswick, to Huia and Kenneth Ryder on 22 July 1927. She attended school in Saint John and graduated from Saint John High School. She had an extensive list of accomplishments as a writer, politician, television host, and active member of the Canadian Mental Health Association.
Dearborn first published a collection of poems and short stories in the 1950s. She learned much of what she knew about writing from a woman who held summer writing sessions at her home in New Hampshire. She learned by doing, and believed that this method of learning was “better than any university lecture” (Dearborn interview). She was a quick study and wrote many books, a number of which are devoted to ghosts and murders in New Brunswick. Some of her best-selling titles include: New Brunswick Out of Body and Beyond! (2004); New Brunswick Haunted Houses and Other Tales of Strange and Eerie Events (2000); Gallows of New Brunswick (1999); New Brunswick Sea Stories: Phantom Ships and Pirate’s Gold, Shipwrecks and Iron Men (1998); Legends, Oddities and Mysteries (Including UFO Experiences!) in New Brunswick (1996); Madness and Murder in New Brunswick, Including You Be the Jury and More Unsolved Murders (1995); New Brunswick Ghosts! Demons! And Things That Go Bump in the Night! (1994); and Unsolved New Brunswick Murders (1993). She had also written books about the history of New Brunswick, such as An Anecdotal History of York and Sunbury Counties (2002), An Anecdotal History of Kings County, New Brunswick (2001), and True Stories: New Brunswick at War (1997). Although her books have been popular successes in New Brunswick and the Maritimes, she explained, “It is not about how much money I make or what awards I win. I write because I love to write” (Dearborn Interview).
Dearborn made history when she became the first female city editor for a newspaper in Canada. She was employed by Saint John’s Telegraph-Journal and The Evening Times-Globe as a journalist. In this position, she did everything from “manning the city Desk, the women’s editor’s job, [to] feature writing” (letter to Ayling, Dearborn Archives). She was a member of the Periodical Writers Association of Canada and had written as a freelancer for magazines as different as The Atlantic Advocate and the Financial Post.
Besides her writing career, Dearborn was involved in television, politics, and the Canadian Mental Health Association. In the 1960s, she was the writer and host for a panel show called Check and Double Check. However, her television career was interrupted by her political career. She ran twice for a federal seat in the riding of Fundy-Royal; she also ran for office at the provincial level, but was unsuccessful in each of these attempts. In her work with the Canadian Mental Health Association, she initiated the Forgotten Patient Project, which has become an international endeavour, and she established the first school for the mentally challenged in Saint John, for which she was given an award from Mayfair Magazine. Her civic involvement had also included adult literacy and human rights campaigns. Until her death on 2 January 2016, she continued to write from her home in Hampton, New Brunswick. She was married to Fred R. Dearborn and they had five children together.
Amanda Fairley, Winter 2009
St. Thomas University
Bibliography of Primary Sources
Dearborn, Dorothy. An Anecdotal History of Kings County, New Brunswick. Saint John, NB: Neptune, 2001.
---. The Gallows of New Brunswick. Saint John, NB: Neptune, 1999.
---. Legends, Oddities & Mysteries (- Including UFO Experiences) in New Brunswick. Saint John: Neptune, 1996.
---. “Letter to Vera Ayling: At the Office Aug. 7, 1973.” New Brunswick Provincial Archives, ref #M56. 4 Nov. 2008.
---. Madness and Murder in New Brunswick: Including You Be the Jury and More Unsolved Murders. Rothesay, NB: Neptune Publishing, 1995.
---. New Brunswick Ghosts! Demons! - and Other Things That go Bump in the Night! Saint John, NB: Neptune, 1994.
---. New Brunswick Haunted Houses - and Other Tales of Strange and Eerie Events. Saint John, NB: Neptune, 2000.
---. New Brunswick Out of Body and Beyond! Illus. Kitara Dearborn. Rothesay, NB: Neptune Publishing, 2004.
---. New Brunswick Sea Stories: Phantom Ships and Pirate's Gold, Shipwrecks and Iron Men. Saint John, NB: Neptune, 1998.
---, ed. New Brunswick Short Stories. Saint John, NB: Neptune, 2003.
---. New Brunswick's Unsung Heroes. Saint John, NB: Neptune, 1996.
---. Telephone interview. 17 Nov. 2008.
---. True Stories: New Brunswickers at War. Saint John: Neptune, 1997.
---. Unsolved New Brunswick Murders. Saint John, NB: Neptune, 1993.
Dearborn, Dorothy and Anna Dearborn Watts. An Anecdotal History of York and Sunbury Counties. Saint John, NB: Neptune, 2002.
---. The Pony Princess. Illus. Carol Taylor. Saint John, NB: New Brunswick Consortium of Professional Writers, 1998.
Bibliography of Secondary Sources
Ayling, Vera. “Dorothy Dearborn.” New Brunswick Provincial Archives, ref #M56. 4 Nov. 2008.