Wednesday, 19 September 2007

Big Red videos

Phil Johnston, a Toronto Sun copy editor and family man, bought a camcorder in the early 1990s and took to several Sun events.

We are forever grateful for the amateur video photographer's decision to take it to Doug Creighton's 64th birthday party that staff organized and held in the creaky old Eclipse Building, where it all began on Nov. 1, 1971. It was a bittersweet evening.

Phil also took it to an office warming two months later in Doug's new penthouse suite with a view of 333 King Street East, where Doug was ousted as CEO without explanation on Nov. 5, 1992.

(Blind comic Gord Paynter kept us laughing during the office reception. There is also footage of Mike Strobel with hair. Others there to wish Doug well included Bob MacDonald, John Downing, Sherry Johnston, Lorrie Goldstein, Tom Godfrey, Lynn Carpenter, Jim Yates, Marjorie Henry.)

The birthday party was held three weeks after Doug's ouster and Phil's camera captured the loyalty and love of hundreds of Sun employees who crammed into the Eclipse to support Doug. Footage includes the faces of many employees now long gone from the thinning Sun.

The camera also catches Doug's emotional speech, often interrupted by shouts of support for the veteran newsman, who worked his way up from Telegram police reporter to newspaper co-founder and CEO. Doug's wife, Marilyn, sat nearby, roses on her lap.

It was Doug's night and except for a ballsy Judas in the crowd, there were no doubts 99.9% of Sun staffers in the Eclipse that night felt Doug's pain and their loss as employees.

Watched Phil's party video recently to make a copy for a former Sun staffer who hadn't seen it and it revived memories of a pledge made that night during speeches by then Toronto Police Chief William McCormack and other police vets.

After presenting Doug with a badge naming him Honourary Police Chief, it was announced the Toronto Historical Society would provide a plaque for the Eclipse Building identifying it as the first home of the Toronto Sun.

It was an excellent gesture, but as of last year the plaque could not be found on the building at the corner of King and John Streets.

With the 36th anniversary of the launch of the Sun approaching, perhaps the few remaining Toronto Sun staffers from the 1970s could see to it that promised plaque sees the light of day.

How about it Peter? Mark? Andy? George? Jim? The Toronto Sun has given much to the city since 1971. It is part of the city's history.

The Eclipse Building is also unique in that it is the only original home of a major Toronto daily newspaper still standing.

It is time to fulfill a promise to Doug in 1992 and plaque it.

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