Rest In Peace, Martin Dover
We've got a confession to make about Up Here's most prolific contributor.
Up Here’s most prolific contributor is no more. We think.
He’s written short pieces. He’s written full features. Over 35 years he’s churned out thousands of words on everything from mining to bannock. Never tiring, he was always there for a weary writer in need of a helping hand, or a freelancer looking for cover. Rest in peace, Martin Dover.
Born shortly after the magazine’s launch in the mid-’80s, the nom to plume was a product of “just a desperate editor late at night,” says former editor Rosemary Allerston.
“Sometimes people didn’t meet their deadlines or you had somebody scheduled to do a piece and then they backed out. Just some- times you would find yourself having to write something yourself,” she says. But what to do if your byline is already all over the magazine? Or when something is written by numerous people, and the byline will be longer than the headline? Enter Martin Dover.
Allerston can’t quite remember the first piece Dover ever ‘wrote’ for the magazine. “Maybe it was just a little story about Japanese tourism in Yellowknife, which was new then, very old hat now. And I thought well, I’m not going to use my own byline on this. And Dover was the surname of my great-grandmother,” she says. Picking a male first name seemed like better cover for a female writer. “Martin Dover just sounded kind of good to me.”
What she didn’t know, the day she slipped it past the publishers, was that she was creating a celebrity. Martin Dover would pop up again and again, used by almost every staff writer who has passed through Up Here’s pages. It was a secret well kept amongst alumni. He’s become one of the legendary figures in northern journalism; a shadowy enigma spoken of by reporters in hushed tones around tables of chicken wings and beers in the Black Knight pub and something of an in-joke around the office.
Cooper Langford, current editor of Up Here Business first worked with Dover in 1997 when he became editor of Up Here. Liz Crompton, who was associate editor, knew Dover well, too, says Langford. “Martin was very helpful when Liz and I first increased the frequency of Up Here to eight issues a year from six. I don’t think many of his stories were especially memorable, though. He was more the kind of guy who carried the load when you had more to write than you could assign. He’s a beast when it comes to churning out the material that holds an issue together while your top-tier stories get all the attention.”
Allerston says she has no special pride in keeping her Frankenstein’s creation alive and typing. But she laughs when she hears he’s still in use, as recently as this year. No longer, dear reader. At least not in these pages.
“Will Martin be missed? I don’t know how to answer that,” says Langford. “He has a habit of popping up in unexpected places thanks to many friends in the magazine business across the country. It’s been a while since I’ve been in touch with Martin directly, but I do have the sense he’s out of ideas for Up Here. I certainly don’t expect to see him there anymore. As for other publications...one never knows.”