Wednesday, 4 November 2015

Where did Fred Ennis go exactly?

Like a lot of people, I grew up listening to the bombastic Fred Ennis on the radio.

He was loud, he was colorful, he was confident, as evidenced by his tag  line, "And I'm Fred Ennis."

(And you're not!)

After I came to Ottawa, I was excited to see him ambling around the National Press Club, beer in hand. With his red hair, and burnt complexion, he looked like a Disney character, maybe somebody you would see in a period piece clutching a flagon of mead, eating a turkey drumstick.

But he was nice, sweet, charming, always grinning, quick with a joke.

My first personal encounter with the guy was in the games room at the club, where he invited me to sit down with another hero of mine, Craig Oliver. I couldn't believe it. I was sitting with a couple of icons, listening to their take on the issues of the day. There I was, a little journalism student, taking it all in.

It was one of the great things about the Press Club. I don't miss the drunken afternoons, or silliness, but I do miss the comradery and my lost encounters with media stars who weren't all full of themselves, and were always willing to offer advice or insight to the young up and comers.

I thought about all of this when I heard the news that Fred has gone missing from an Alta Vista senior's residence on Monday.  I was concerned. A lot of people were concerned.

Reports that he was missing lit up Facebook. What on Earth had happened to the cherubic knight? Was he sick? Was he a danger to himself?

Like all police reports of its kind, there was no additional information to let us know why exactly we should be concerned. The only thing we knew was that he had given the slip to the residence staff and was gone. At least we knew he had on a coat and a jaunty chapeau.

But what was the real story? It all seemed odd because Fred was on social media reporting from Florida. His cover photo showed him drinking wine in a hot tub with two fine looking women. Since when was he living in a home with an undisclosed illness? Was he depressed? Did he have dementia?

Like the good gum shoe Fred had taught me to be, I got busy calling all the pubs. What ever Fred got up to, he never missed a meal or an opportunity to quench his thirst. But nobody had seen him, and as somebody said on Twitter, "he was hard to miss."

A few hours later, we got the wonderful news that Fred had been found. But of course, that was the last word. There was no news about what had happened to him.

Yesterday, we got a note from Fred's good friend who reported that he had been experiencing "some memory problems" and that was why he had checked in to the residence. He had had words with a nurse, and decided to get on the bus and head downtown where he enjoyed a beer, a burger and fries.

She said he had laughed at the social media reports. It seemed reports of his demise were highly exaggerated. And Fred enjoyed all the posts from his colleagues who all reminisced about how he had touched their lives.

I'm writing this to close the loop. I get very frustrated when the media blares a story about somebody and then you never hear what happened.

He's still Fred Ennis.

And he was simply on a caper.

Now you know.


  1. Great story, thanks for this. Fred has been a friend of mine since Nepean was a city, and I was quite shocked when I heard this on the radio. I had been wondering what happened to him, and didn't hear any follow up. Today, I saw a friend we have in common on the news and I googled Fred to see if there was any conclusion to that story.

    All the best,
    (I'm) James Ness(and you're not!)

  2. Thank you for finishing this story,one of many that all who know him have. I've known Fred since I was beginning Junior High in a village in Michigan, where we both grew up. He was as eccentric and as smart then, as he clearly was as and adult in Ottowa.I miss him.