Wednesday, 3 October 2007

The Departed 1

The 35th anniversary of the Toronto Sun marked a milestone for the tabloid newspaper. Unfortunately, many of our colleagues/friends are deceased, from Doug Creighton, our beloved founding publisher, to other Sun veterans, including Bob MacDonald, Ed Monteith, George Gross, Jim Hunt, Jerry Gladman, J. Douglas MacFarlane etc.

This Into the SUNset blog posting is a tribute to the departed. (To provide missing names or bio information, e-mail us.) Part 1 of 2.

David Bailey

In the 1970s and '80s, the Toronto Sun hired several reporters and editors from the United Kingdom who brought with them expertise cultivated in newsrooms at legendary U.K. tabloids. David Bailey, a newsman who "worked hard and played hard," was among the imports and he left his mark on Sun newspapers in Toronto and Edmonton and the Financial Post. Dave joined the blossoming Toronto Sun in 1974 after working at the now-defunct Winnipeg Tribune and as a reporter in England. By 1977, he was editor of the Sunday Sun. Dave and fellow-UK imports pushed the envelope toward "true tab" content, but never beyond acceptable Canadian standards. In other words, SUNshine Girls on Page 3 did not go topless, as in the U.K. Dave moved on to the Edmonton Sun in the spring of 1978 as that tabloid's founding news editor. He was later appointed managing editor and from 1981 to 1991, he was the paper's editor-in-chief. The multi-talented newsman returned to Toronto in the fall of 1991 as executive editor of the Financial Post and as publisher of FP Magazine. In all, Dave spent more than 20 years in the Sun/FP family. In the fall of 1997, he moved to the Kitchener-Waterloo Record as editor. Dave, a family man with two teenaged children, a son and daughter, had been with the Record for eight months when he died suddenly on May 18, 1998. He was 47. Dave's wife was Johanna Powell, a former Toronto Sun and Edmonton Sun journalist who later went to the Financial Post. Valerie Hauch, a Toronto Star copy editor, says "I worked with David at the Edmonton Sun and he was one of the best bosses I've had - fair, fun and appreciative of talent." Les Pyette worked with David at the Toronto Sun in the 1970s and was publisher of the Calgary Sun when he died. "He was a good guy and a great newspaper man," said Les. "He was born to be a Sun newspaper guy and we will all miss him. Even though David was over at the Kitchener Record, he was still a real Sun guy."

Del Bell

Bruce Blackadar

Bruce "Blackie" Blackadar's life was a roller coaster ride, from the depths of alcoholism to acclaimed writer - and one of the few initial 1982 Trivial Pursuit investors. The gifted Montreal-born reporter/author found his calling in 1968 after working in Toronto as a singer and pizza chef. The Conestoga College journalism grad got his start at the Woodstock Sentinel Review in 1970, followed by the Windsor Star. Toronto Sun readers were introduced to Bruce's widely praised talents in 1974 as a feature writer, columnist and reporter. Bruce moved to the Toronto Star in 1977. During a poker game in 1982 at the Toronto Press Club, Bruce said his first Trivial Pursuit investment cheque had arrived and the first thing he was going to buy was a pair of silk pajamas. The purchase had more meaning in 1983 when he wrote a heartbreaking special Star report on his search for his abusive, alcoholic father who abandoned him in his teens. Bruce tracked his father down in Vancouver but arrived three days after he died in hospital. In 1989, Bruce authored Last Call, a collection of columns he had penned anonymously for Alcoholics Anonymous. He said he went public with his alcoholism to help other addicts. Bruce died Aug. 15, 1996, at St. Michael's Hospital after a lengthy battle with brain cancer. He was 51.

Doug Creighton
John Douglas Creighton covered all of the media bases, from Toronto Telegram police reporter in 1948 to founding publisher of the Toronto Sun in 1971 - and then some. Along the way, he gained a family, numerous honours and a great deal of respect. Most people at the Sun felt they were working with Doug, not for him. They had respect for him because he rose to the top - Tely police reporter, sports editor, city editor, managing editor, Sun publisher, chairman of the board and CEO - with handshakes and heart, not a fist. The Toronto Sun was his home away from home and he saw the Sun rise in several other cities to become a 20th century media success story. In the 1980's, the Toronto Sun was listed as one of the Top 100 Canadian companies to work for and Doug played a large part in it making that list. So on that Thursday, November 5, 1992, when Paul Godfrey announced Doug was out and he was in as chairman of the board, it was the day the music died for most of us at the Sun. The boardroom back stabbers, as Christie Blatchford would say, had turned a dream into a nightmare. Staffers rallied around Doug, threw a 64th birthday party for him in the Eclipse Building, where it all started, published a full page ad asking WHY? and bought his book, Sunburned - Memoirs of a Newspaperman. But the soul of the newspaper was gone and we just couldn't get him back. It was the point of no return. In 1993, the first of the buyouts, then came layoffs and more layoffs and cutbacks to benefits. Doug, a 1992 Order of Canada recipient, watched sadly from the sidelines, his health deteriorating due to Parkinson's. Doug died on January 7, 2004. He was 75. (Warren Gerard's Toronto Star obit)

Edward A. Dunlop

Frank Eames

Joe Fisher
Andrew Joseph Hilton Fisher's newspaper career began as a junior reporter in England when hired by the Staffordshire Advertiser and Chronicle in 1965. In 1969, at age 22, the Bristol-born newsman became the youngest news editor in England. Joe emigrated to Canada in the summer of 1971 and was soon employed at The Mirror newspaper as a police reporter. A year later, Joe was hired by the Toronto Sun as a feature writer and reporter. His big heart and sense of humour fit perfectly into the Sun Family environment. Joe's assignments were varied, from an undercover probe of Toronto's massage parlours to the Commonwealth Ministers' conference in Ottawa. In 1974, he launched a labour column. Joe's flare for writing about the paranormal would take him away from newspapers and into books, freelance writing, speaking engagements, broadcasting and workshops. Joe, a globe trotter at heart, travelled the world and his books on metaphysical topics sold more than a million copies in 22 languages. But he never forgot his five years at the Sun. He freelanced for the Sunday Sun's travel section in the 1990's. Joe's books include The Siren Call of Hungry Ghosts, Life Between Life, The Case For Reincarnation and Predictions. Joe was living in Fergus when he died in a fall from a cliff at the Elora Gorge on May 9, 2001. He was 53.

Rick Fraser
Rick L. Fraser received a paycheque from all of the major dailies in Toronto during his 40-year newspaper career, capping it at the Toronto Sun as a widely praised golf columnist. Born April 28, 1934, in New Glasgow, Nova Scotia, Rick's blend of wit and journalistic integrity placed him in that rare circle of celebrity sports writers. He got his start on the news side in 1960, covering a variety of stories in Nova Scotia, including the Springhill mining disaster. Going down the road, he landed in Ontario at the Barrie Examiner, followed by the Globe and Mail, Toronto Sun (late 1970s) and the Toronto Star. Rick, aka The Frase, shone at the Star for 18 years, writing boxing columns and golf columns. He excelled at both, so much so that he was inducted into the Canadian Boxing Hall of Fame in 1993 and the Canadian Golf Hall of Fame posthumously in 2004. The golf pros said Rick was someone they respected and trusted. Said Sun sports writer Jim Hunt: "My old travelling companion, the late Rick Fraser, has been named to the Canadian Golf Hall of Fame. No one had more friends in the sport than Rick. A tournament in his name is one of the most sought-after invitations in golf." Rick also enjoyed playing poker at the Toronto Press Club in the 1980s and early 1990s and his boxing and golf stories were a bonus for players. One of his most quoted boxing quips originated at a fight between Billy Irwin and outclassed underdog Lee Cargle: "They might need to keep playing the national anthem to keep this guy on his feet." After retiring from the Star in 1999, Rick returned to the Toronto Sun for a weekly golf page and was a frequent contributor to Score Golf Magazine. Rick the golf writer didn't limit his interest to PGA tours. He wrote about amateur golf in Ontario, including women's golf. His support of all levels earned him a 1999 Royal Canadian Golf Association Outstanding Achievement Award. Rick died in Toronto on February 15, 2000. He was 65.

Jerry Gladman
Jerry Gladman's life included two major ironies. He dropped out of high school in Grade 10 - and became a professor of journalism at Ryerson. And he was a prolific, award-winning writer stilled by the cruel and disabling ALS. But what a life he had, from his teen years as a Toronto Star copy boy, to Telegram reporter, to award-winning Toronto Sun writer, the Ryerson professor. He was one of Toronto's most prolific writers and a two-fingered typist to boot. Jerry's feature stories in the Sun were often personal. When his mother was battling Alzheimer's, he wrote about dealing with the disease and helped others trying to cope with a loved one's loss of memory with three little words of advice: Be there "for the moment." Jerry's passions were family, writing and boxing, in that order. One of his proudest moments involved all three when one of his sons ran with Muhammad Ali while writing a feature story about the boxer. During a temporary break from the Sun, Jerry taught journalism at Ryerson for three years. ALS first took his voice, which curtailed his teaching. Then ALS began to take his motor skills. Jerry's last Sun project was a four-part series on ALS, published in November of 2003. The heartbreaking Living and Dying With ALS series would win him a coveted Dunlop Award. Jerry's 14-month battle with the degenerative disease came to an end on June 21, 2004, a day before the Dunlops were awarded. He was 61. (Bruce Kirkland's Toronto Sun obit)

Ben Grant

George Gross

Paul Heming
Paul Wightman Heming was a masterful Toronto Sun copy editor who wrote clever, whimsical headlines that are still being talked about today. He was also a walking encyclopedia when it came to baseball. Those were two of many loves of his life - newspapers and baseball. Paul got his start at the Mercury in hometown Guelph, Ontario. In 1962, he moved on to Ryerson's journalism program, where he honed his newspaper skills and met his first wife, Kathy Brooks, who was destined to become the Sun's entertainment editor. Hired by the Toronto Telegram, Paul decided to leave before the Tely folded in 1971, missing the opportunity to become a Toronto Sun Day Oner. Instead, he moved to England, landing jobs at the Guardian and other publications and meeting his second wife, Angela. He adopted her two sons. On his return to Canada in 1975, Paul was hired by the Globe and Mail's Report on Business. The Sun beckoned in 1980 and he fit into the Sun's newsroom like a glove. He was a gifted copy editor and a newsman with a big heart and a love of life. "Paul was the backbone of our news desk, the hardest worker, the most dependable," said then news editor Sandra Macklin. Paul always was up for a party, so it was not surprising to learn his will included $1,000 for use by colleagues at his wake. That wake came much too soon. Paul was found dead in his home from a heart attack on Sept. 30, 1993. He was 53. 'The guy was a newsman's newsman," said then night editor Lloyd Kemp. "Miss him? Hell, he's taken a part of this paper away.'

Paul Henry

Jim Hunt

Jim "Shaky" Hunt was a journalist for more than 50 years and a household name as a sports writer for most of those five decades. The former University of Western Ontario goaltender scored big time as one of the university's first journalism graduates in 1948. The multi-talented sports writer attended every Grey Cup game between 1949 and 1999. He covered the 1972 Canada-Russia hockey series, the Olympics, the Super Bowl, all of the major golf tournaments, the Stanley Cup etc. His "Shaky" nickname was coined during his university goal tending years. Jim stood tall, physically and as a journalist. The native of Sarnia, Ont., was fresh out of school when hired as a news reporter by the Toronto Star, working in the Queen's Park bureau before moving to sports in 1952. In 1967, he was hired by CKEY radio as sports director of the AM station and eventually became news director. Jim moved to the Toronto Sun in 1983 as a sports writer/columnist. Jim had stories to tell and they often included hearty laughter from the sports pro. He once told a reporter: "I have been lucky. I guess you could say I have had trouble keeping jobs. But I have only applied for one job and that was the first one I had at the Star. I blundered into the other jobs. The CKEY job gave me the opportunity to cover the 1972 and 1974 Canada-Russia hockey series. The best job was at the Star Weekly because it afforded me the opportunity to travel around the world. But the job I enjoyed the most was writing a column for the Sun. All my life, my ambition was to write a column. Jim Coleman was my idol because he could be funny, serious and opinionated. I wanted to be like him." Jim received a Sports Media Canada achievement award in 2001 and co-authored All Work and All Play: A Life in the Outrageous World of Sports. Jim died March 9, 2006, after a heart attack. He was 79.

Nick Ibscher

Bob Jelenic

Loyd Kemp
Lloyd Kemp
, an original member of the Toronto Sun's productive "Windsor Mafia" in the mid 1970s, covered several bases in the Sun newsroom during his 22 years at the tabloid. And when he wasn't editing copy, manning the city desk or working as the Sun corporate liaison editor, he was playing poker with colleagues, betting the horses, downing a pint or two or being a proud dad with two growing daughters, not necessarily in that order. Lloyd was among the few dedicated newspapermen able to balance family life, friends, work and leisure time without drastic consequences on any front. (Lloyd and his wife, Lorna, first met when they were 12.) Reeled in from the Windsor Star in 1975, Lloyd quickly settled in at the Sun, working on the city desk with Les Pyette and then Bob Burt. When you talk about Sun pioneers who made a difference at the Sun, Lloyd was among them. He was a colleague, a friend and a mentor to many. And he was another veteran Sun staffer taken from us much too soon. He was 49 when he died from cancer on Jan. 10, 1997, with his wife and daughters at his side. Lloyd worked well into his lengthy battle with cancer, returning after each treatment, every surgery, because he wanted to contribute and be with his friends. Lloyd never won big in the Sun office lottery pools over the years, but he was a winner to family, friends and colleagues. At his funeral, Mark Bonokoski, a longtime friend and colleague from the Windsor Star days and through the Sun years, said: "He wasn't simply a journalist. He was a newspaperman. He will be missed. Missed hard. Missed long."

Wasyl Kowalishen
The Toronto Sun's exclusive, 62-member Day Oners club lost a key member only days after the tabloid's 20th anniversary party was held at the SkyDome. Wasyl Kowalishen, a darkroom technician credited with making those Sun photographs sing day after day, suffered a stroke in his home on Oct. 31, 1991, while preparing for a special dinner that night for Day One employees. Hundreds of other employees, some flown in from Calgary, Edmonton and Ottawa, would attend a Nov. 1, 1991, gala 20th anniversary celebration at the SkyDome. Few co-workers knew the extent of his stroke, but our thoughts were with "Wass" and his family as he remained in intensive care. He died Nov. 8. He was 63. His son, David, said Wasyl "liked going to work. It was his whole life. He was very proud (of being a Day Oner) and he wanted to go to the party." Wasyl, born in Saskatchewan, had worked for the Toronto Telegram for 25 years before it folded Oct. 30, 1971. Two days later, Wasyl and 61 other Tely workers launched the upstart Sun tabloid. The Sun's darkroom, on the second floor of the Eclipse Building factory setting, consisted of Wass, Norm Betts, David Cooper and Jac Holland. The soft-spoken, good natured darkroom technician enjoyed newsroom conversations when not meeting deadlines. Newsroom poker players could never entice Wass into after hours games, but we finally got him into a game in the summer of 1975 during our final night at the old Eclipse Building. Norm Betts snapped a photo of three of the players and author Ron Poulton used it in his Life In a Word Factory book. There was Wass on an opening page of the Sun history book, cards in hand, and we heard his wife was not too pleased. Wass, a family man with three sons, never played poker again. The death of Wass days after the Sun's 20th anniversary celebration was a blow to the Sun family. "He was a great Day Oner," said Doug Creighton, then Sun chairman and CEO. "I just feel so sad." John Downing, then editor and also a Day Oner, said: "Wasyl was as much a part of the start-up of the Sun as Doug Creighton. Papers need people like Wasyl."

Bob MacDonald

Robert "Bob" MacDonald was a father, hockey player, drinker and one hell of a tough newsman for most of his 76 years. The one thing the Nova Scotia native parted company with along the way was the booze. Hockey was his sport and he played professional hockey. He also obtained degrees from Acadia University the of Columbia School of Journalism. In the summer of 1953, the Toronto Star hired him as a reporter. He quit several years later when the Star began assigning senior reporters to the graveyard shift. The Star's loss was the Telegram's big gain. Bob MacDonald became a household name with exclusive Tely stories on the Springhill mine disaster in Nova Scotia, the FLQ crisis, the highjacking of the Santa Maria cruise ship in the Atlantic etc. When the Tely folded in 1971, he didn't skip a beat. The front page on Day One of the Toronto Sun was all his in exposing "A $10M Goof." When not busy scooping the competition, Bob was always approachable in the newsroom and numerous Tely and Sun staffers considered him a mentor. Off the job, Bob continued playing hockey into his 70s and for more than 20 years, organizers of the annual Regent Park Christmas dinner could count on Bob for a column on the dinner and his presence on the turkey and trimmings serving line. (His daughter, Moira, is continuing the MacDonald tradition, filling her dad's shoes at the annual dinner.) Bob was also available anytime if you had a drinking problem, or were in recovery. He had been there and anything he could do, he would. Prostate cancer did not keep him from writing for the Sun. He filed columns until his death on Feb. 26, 2006. He was 76. (Peter Worthington's Toronto Sun tribute)

J.D. MacFarlane
James Douglas MacFarlane
was respectfully known by several generations of Canadian reporters and editors as JDM. Considered one of media's finest, JDM's newspaper career spanned five decades, ending in 1981 with his reluctant retirement as editorial director of the Toronto Sun. The Ottawa-born son of a United Church minister got an early start in journalism, covering sports at age 11 for his school newspaper at the Montreal-area Strathcona Academy. He played football at Strathcona and was tagged by staff as a school troublemaker. In high school in Chatham, Ontario, he wrote for the school newspaper and its yearbook. In 1943, 16-year-old JDM launched The Weekly Analyst in Chatham with the help of his younger brother, George. Rejecting his father's wishes that he study law, JDM was now focused on journalism. He freelanced for the Windsor Daily Star, first for free, then salaried. His Chatham/Windsor experience landed him a job at the Toronto Star in 1940. His 40-year love affair with Toronto media, with a break during WW2 where he wrote for the Maple Leaf, had begun. The Toronto Star was a better newspaper with JDM aboard, as was the Telegram and the Sun. His tough Assessment Notices put the fear of JDM in Telegram and Sun staffers, but they learned from their mistakes and thanked JDM for his critiques. A fine tribute to JDM was penned by his son Richard. Canada's Newspaper Legend - The Story of J. Douglas MacFarlane, published in 2000, is a must read for anyone in media. JDM, a Canadian News Hall of Fame recipient, died of a heart attack at his home on April 27, 1995. He was 79.

Howard MacGregor

Lois Maxwell

Mike McCabe
Mike McCabe, an easy going Toronto Sun Day Oner helped launch the tabloid in 1971 and was named circulation manager in 1973. Years later, he would be named fleet manager, the fleet consisting of two Volkswagens and a Cadillac. But the joy of his life was being chauffeur and right hand man to Doug Creighton, Sun co-founder and founding publisher. When not on the road with Doug, Mike would spend time in the newsroom chatting with an ever increasing number of employees he befriended. That included a Sun receptionist named Sharon, who became his second wife in 1991. One of the Sun's favourite in-hour photographs was taken on his wedding day, when Doug chauffeured Mike and his new bride. You couldn't help but like Mike. "He was a prince of a guy," Len Fortune, then assistant managing editor, would say, adding as Doug's pal and confidant, he was probably "instrumental in a lot of the biggest decisions." Christina Fleming, who was Doug's secretary when he was chairman and CEO, said Mike had a "gruff exterior, but was a marshmallow inside. He looked after all us girls." Mike retired to Fort Erie following Doug's sudden ouster in November of 1992. He mourned Doug's passing in 2004. On May 30, 2006, the man who steered Doug Creighton in the right direction for years, suffered a fatal heart attack in his Fort Erie-area home. Doug's widow, Marilyn, said Mike "was really a friend." The father of four and the last of 12 siblings in his family, was 76.

John McLean

Arlene McNeil

Jim McPherson
Jim McPherson was the Toronto Sun editor who assembled and packaged the TV listings magazine from its launch in 1973 until his retirement in 1994, all the while writing television and movie reviews filled with wit and insider gems. If a TV show or movie was a turkey, he'd call it a turkey. His editing, research and writing were meticulous, providing Sunday Sun readers with a reliable and entertaining TV magazine week after week. Jim also wrote Snapshots, a series of short biographies of Hollywood characters you knew by face, but not by name. "He was a meticulous researcher who wanted the descriptives for our TV shows, and especially for our movies, to be just right, which meant funny but jam-packed with facts," Kathy Brooks, a Sunday Sun editor, would say. "He delighted in describing the films deftly - Nifty Little Nailbiter was always a favourite," said Kathy. "He invented 'Turkey Time." Jim fancied classic movies, a good pun, enthusiastic TV magazine writers and Swiss Chalet chicken. The popularity of the Sunday Sun's entertaining and informative TV magazine was a reflection of Jim's tireless talents. In November of 2002, an unsung hero of the Little Paper That Grew died at home of emphysema. He was 64.

More farewells in The Departed 2


  1. Thanks for this valuable site that would help the people like me

  2. My husband's grandfather was Frank Eames. Sadly, I did not get an opportunity to meet him.

  3. My Great Uncle is Bill NICHOLSON(Library) and formerly of The Toronto Telegram, i am researching NICHOLSON family history, any photos or info about Bill would be so very appreciated!