John Nihmey was born in Ottawa and grew up in his family's 50s style diner. His father, Philip Nihmey, died when he was nine, requiring that he and his four brothers help his mother (Lily Monsour: 1914-2003) in the family business. John graduated from Carleton University with a Bachelor of Arts, Honours in English in 1976. His first writing assignments were covering outdoor festival events in Ottawa for the past newspaper, The Ottawa Journal.
John visited the Beverly Hills Hotel in 1976 and wrote a feature article on it for the Ottawa Citizen. The feature caught the attention of a departing Toronto Star Syndicate editor, who suggested that he independently syndicate the story and a monthly series on great hotels to newspapers across Canada. Within a year John Nihmey's Hotels of the World was syndicated in 15 newspapers across Canada and, soon after, in a number of newspapers in the US northeast. In the course of three years, he visited more than 40 countries and wrote fun and informative stories about his adventures in hotels such as the Ritz in Paris, the Peninsula in Hong Kong, the Pierre in New York, the Negresco in Nice, and La Mamounia in Marrakech. He appeared as a regular on CTV's Canada AM and was a guest on numerous television and radio shows. Special features also appeared in the Globe and Mail, the Book of Lists, and Travel and Leisure. John discontinued the series in 1980.
John and co-author, Stuart Foxman, wrote Time of Their Lives: The Dionne Tragedy, a fact-based novel that looked at the Dionne Quintuplet phenomenon from the parents' perspective. The book chronicled the events leading to the government exploitation of the Quints and the marginalization of the parents during the eight years in which the Ontario government retained custody and turned the children into a sideshow drawing six million tourists and a corporate endorsement vehicles that led to an industry worth $500 million during the Depression. The book was released in Canada in 1986 by Macmillan of Canada and was both a critical and commercial success in Canada. The Toronto Star stated that readers "will read and weep" while the Globe and Mail said the book was "vindication for the Dionne parents".Literary Guild bought book club rights and Bantam bought paperback rights. The book was released in the US the following year, again to critical acclaim, with book club and paperback rights also acquired. John and co-author Stuart appeared on numerous television shows, with the US book launch featuring an exclusive interview by Bryant Gumbel on NBC's Today show.
Film rights were purchased in 1987, leading to the $12 million 1994 CBS/CBC miniseries, Million Dollar Babies, which won the ratings sweep in its time slot. The book was re-released to tie-in with the television broadcast and the French edition of the book became one of the best-selling books in Quebec history.
In total, Time of Their Lives sold an estimated quarter million copies, making it one of Canada's best selling titles.
John wrote and published (Hushion House/General Publishing) the non-fiction narrative, Fireworks and Folly: How We Killed Minnie Sutherland, in 1998. The book is a mosaic of John's narrative with police records, inquest testimony, personal interviews, and media excerpts about the life and death of an Aboriginal woman in one of Canada's urban centres.
The book was launched at the Press Club in Ottawa and John was introduced by Assembly of First Nations Chief, Ovide Mercredi. John is one of few non-Aboriginal authors to be recognized and thanked by the Aboriginal community, in particular for his honest, frank, and sympathetic portrayal of Minnie Sutherland without the use of stereotypes. The Globe and Mail said the book was "must reading for all Canadians".
TVO Studio Two produced a documentary on the book with an interview of John. The book was also published in French by Vent l'ouest. A film project is in early development with Adam Beach interested in the lead male role.
John is a co-founding partner of NIVA Inc., a leading technical and scientific communications firm. Started in 1981, the firm has a distinguished record for expert communications in areas involving health sciences, science and technology, and transportation safety. John works as Director of Marketing Communications for the firm.
John has recently completed a screenplay based on his years as synicated travel journalist writing Hotels of the World. The screenplay, a fish-out-of-water comedy, is called Johnny Diamond. He is also consulting on the development of Fireworks and Folly as a motion picture. John continues to travel extensively and has now been to some 65 countries. He also speaks to both large and small audiences on various topics, particularly communications.