The Departed 2:
If Doug Creighton was the "soul" of the Sun, Edgar Earl Monteith was the rock. Ed began a five-decade association with the Telegram and Sun at age 14, when hired as a Tely copy boy. (He dropped out of school to help support the family after his father died.) Ed worked his way up the Tely newsroom ladder and was managing editor when the axe fell in 1971. The Kitchener-Waterloo Record offered him a job, but Ed decided to follow 61 other out-of-work Tely colleagues into a new venture called the Sun. The tabloid's first managing editor rolled up his sleeves and stood tall in the newsroom. Ed was one of those rare editors who could get the job done with the air of a bulldog and still have reporters and columnists respect him for his loyalty and sense of humour. Nervous cub reporters usually walked away from conversations with Ed feeling more confident. Doug would later say, because of Ed, "The Sun became a bigger newspaper, a more professional newspaper, faster than one would have thought possible." While loyal to his job and colleagues, the Sun family was second to his own, his wife, Patricia, and their five daughters. His retirement in November of 1990 after 31 years with the Telegram and 19 years with the Sun left a gaping hole in the newsroom. Ed took up golfing in retirement and was ecstatic to shoot 98. That was a few days before the longtime angina sufferer died of a heart attack on Aug. 16, 1996. He was 69.
Cam and Sam. Two dedicated Toronto Sun staffers who mixed business with pleasure for more than 20 years as husband and wife. Cam Norton was one of the numerous Windsor Mafia members lured from the Windsor Star and Sam Ion was a Sun lifestyle writer who was also a motivator of women on several fronts. Cam balanced his three loves - Sam, newsrooms and baseball - quite comfortably. In the newsroom, where his "loyalty, generosity and passion for journalism" were always visible, Cam was a respected editor before, during and after his stint on city desk. "He was passionate about the news and he loved working at the Sun," Sam would say. Born in Toronto, Cam graduated from Upper Canada College, received a journalism degree at Ryerson and degrees in history and political science at the University of Windsor. His first newspaper job was at the Chatham Daily News in 1966, followed by a 10-year stint at the Windsor Star, where he held a variety of editorial jobs, including Queen's Park bureau chief. In 1977, he was lured to the Toronto Sun as an assistant city editor and a Sunday Sun editor. "He loved to pass along knowledge to young reporters," Gord Walsh, managing editor, would say. "He always had a smile and a friendly greeting - he was a true gentleman." veteran Sun staffer Mark Bonokoski, who worked with Cam in Windsor, said. "Cam understood the power of the written word. He had a great eye for detail." Cam left the Sun in 1986 to work for the Ontario government. He also operated the Tom Salmon Inn in Dorset for nine years with his wife before they launched a freelance writing and communications company, specializing in travel writing. Cam returned to the Sun newsroom in 2001 as a copy editor, happy to be working with his old colleagues once again. "Anyone who had a bad word to say about Cam didn't like life very much," said news vet Allan Dickie. On April 14, 2006, Cam and Sam were on their way to visit family in Australia when he suffered a massive, fatal heart attack at Vancouver airport. He was 63.
Joe O'Donnell took to writing about politics with ease not long after graduating from the University of Western Ontario’s journalism program in the early 1970s. He began paying his dues in 1972 as a cub reporter for the St. Catharines Standard and later at the Kitchener-Waterloo Record. In the early 1980s, he tackled the competitive Toronto newspaper market, earning the respect of politicians and readers while covering the parliamentary and Queen’s Park bureaus for the Toronto Star. Joe’s Sun years began in 1988 when hired by then editor John Downing as a senior writer. He was soon appointed chief of the Sun’s Washington bureau. In 1994, Joe transferred to the Ottawa Sun and continued his political writing. Hartley Stewart, then publisher of the Ottawa Sun, would describe Joe as a “gentleman at all times” who had a “lot of flair and style.” The popular columnist was also appreciated for his sense of humour. On August 5, 1997, colleagues and friends concerned that they had not heard from him after he called in sick found his body in his home. He had died from natural causes at age 46. Doug Creighton, the Toronto Sun co-founder ousted as CEO in 1992, described Joe as “one of the better writers I’ve known. He did an excellent job in Washington. It’s just a tragedy he died at such a young age.” Thanks to the Internet, you can still get a read from Joe’s Washington days.
Robert "Bob" Pennington launched his lengthy and rewarding career in journalism as a teenaged cub reporter in the Lake District in war-torn England. He wrote obituaries, reported on bombing raids and covered political meetings. Bob was 19 when he joined the Royal Air Force in 1941 and would say later, he did it to "get away from the blitz." Words being his forte, he was assigned to deciphering and code work. Bob served in North Africa, the Middle East and Italy and was a flight lieutenant when discharged. Without hesitation, it was back to newspapers. He was hired at the South Western Star in southwest London and later joined the North London Press, where, at 27, he became the youngest editor of a London newspaper. Bob spent the next two decades working and mingling with Fleet Street's finest. In 1964, he got an offer from Doug Creighton that he couldn't refuse. He accepted Doug's offer of a job at the Toronto Telegram and moved his family to Canada. Bob settled in quite nicely as a sports writer, but the Tely's days were numbered. When the axe fell in 1971, Bob opted for a job at the Toronto Star, rather than join Doug and 61 other jobless Tely exiles to the new Sun. At the Star, he wrote features and added wine columnist to his ever-expanding resume. Much admired for his fine balance of dedicated family man and newspaperman, Bob enjoyed singing Gilbert and Sullivan favourites at social gatherings. In 1978, Doug Creighton lured Bob to the Sun and added theatre critic to his list of journalistic talents. The award-winning newsman made the Sun newsroom that much brighter with his British charm and adventurous stories. As theatre critic, Bob's name was often quoted in newspaper ads promoting Toronto productions. At 65, Bob was still full of vim, vinegar and talent, but the Toronto Sun had what seemed to be a selective forced retirement policy in those days. Bob was forced to retire from the job he loved in 1987. He died from cancer at Toronto Grace Hospital on Nov. 14, 1990. He was 68.
Edward 'Teddy' Reeve, born into a working-class Toronto family on Jan. 6, 1902, was a sports legend in his own time, as a fan-favourite football and lacrosse player and sports columnist. Ted, aka "The Moaner," was known for his intense, guts and glory years on football fields as a Toronto Argonaut (1923, No. 86) and a Toronto Balmy Beach player (1924-1930). The World War 1 vet caught the eye of Toronto Telegram editors who hired him in 1928 to write a Sporting Extras column while he was still playing and coaching football and lacrosse. Having shared two Grey Cup championship wins in 1927 and 1930, and several intercollegiate championships in 1934, 1935 and 1937, Ted's unique player/coach/columnist role attracted huge numbers of loyal readers. One day, the longtime Beach resident was helping Balmy Beach win a Grey Cup (1930) with a separated shoulder, and the next he was writing about his game-winning kick block. He wrote: "Oh, when I was young and in my prime/I used to block kicks all the time/ but now that I am old and gray/I only do it once a day." Ted had been a Tely fixture for 43 years when the paper folded in 1971. His classic quip when the Tely's demise was announced: "They told me when I came here that this would be a steady job." Ted, elected to the Canadian Football Hall of Fame in 1963, still had more to give so after the Tely folded, Doug Creighton invited him to continue writing sports columns for the Toronto Sun. His credentials by then included membership in the Lacrosse Hall of Fame, Canada's Sports Hall of Fame and the Football Reporters of Canada Hall of Fame. Also in his name, Ted Reeve Arena and the Ted Reeve Hockey Association. Ted "The Moaner" Reeve died in Toronto on August 27, 1983. He was 81.
Percy Rowe, the Toronto Sun’s first travel editor, was paid to travel the world for almost 20 years. It was the ultimate media job and the British-born journalist enjoyed every minute and every mile. As travel editor, he encouraged fellow Sun staffers to take notes during their vacations and get paid for stories about their travels. Percy, born in London, England, on Jan. 15, 1922, endured the post-World War 1 years and the depression years and was a Royal Air Force navigator in World War 2 before moving to Canada. Percy spent several years at the Winnipeg Tribune before joining the Toronto Telegram in 1955. At the Tely, he worked his way up the newsroom chain to become assistant managing editor before being appointed travel editor in 1969. Percy, fluent in French and Spanish, globe-hopped with ease for two years before the Tely folded in 1971. The good-natured, ascot-wearing travel writer didn’t miss a beat. He joined fellow Tely employees at the new Toronto Sun. Between flights, Percy found the time to collect awards and write books on travel, history and wine. Percy was never reluctant to change hats while on travel assignments. During a press trip to Ireland in 1981, the Bobbie Sands hunger strike exploded. The IRA prisoner was starving himself to death. Percy jumped off of the press travel junket and provided the Sun with two consecutive days of Bobbie Sands news spreads. When Percy retired in 1986, the newsroom missed his presence and his travel tales, but he continued writing freelance travel articles for the Sun and other publications. Percy died of pneumonia in Mississauga on March 7, 2006. He was 84.
Ray Smith was a short guy with some very tall tales to tell when hired as a Toronto Sun reporter in 1988. The former Telegram writer had taken a break from the reality of Canadian newspapers to work for the National Enquirer for five years (1976-1980). Based in Florida, Ray was well paid by the Enquirer, but five years of that tabloid's "heartless" approach to news left him yearning for a legitimate newspaper. After his first wife, Kathy, died of cancer in Florida, he met and married her cousin, Lucille, and returned to Canada. Les Pyette hired the "natural" at the Calgary Sun in 1981 and in 1988, Ray transferred to the Sun in hometown Toronto. The newsroom was a better place with good-natured Ray in it, both as a reporter and later as an assistant city editor. Incredible stories about his years with the National Enquirer were worth his paycheque. One of his favourites was the day the Enquirer fired 13 staffers on Friday the 13th to have a story to write. The Sun newsroom laughter turned to shock when recurring ulcers and hepatitis C contracted in Mexico City while covering a 1985 earthquake (a doctor used a secondhand needle to inject him against cholera) put him in a coma. Ray died April 9, 1994, at Toronto General Hospital. He was 52.
Few people called this North Bay-born WW2 D-Day vet and newspaperman extraordinaire Robert. He was just plain Bob, or Vez, to bosses and subordinates. Much like the roses he cultivated and wrote about for years, he could be part thorn, part delicate. The thorny part was visible on occasion in the Toronto Sun newsroom, where he ruled the roost as city editor from 1980 to 1982. His bark occasionally sent young female reporters rushing to the restroom in tears. We're sure those same reporters became better journalists thanks to Bob. He was the ultimate newsman. Retired city editor Ken Robertson probably said it best in summing up his friend Bob the newsman: "He was the toughest, most demanding s.o.b. I ever worked for (as a young reporter at the Tely.) But you delivered because he was so damn good himself. Everything I know in the business I learned from him." The Sun city editor cum senior writer and garden columnist was born in 1924 and got his start in newspapers at 12 as a North Bay Nugget carrier. His first fulltime newspaper job was at the Nugget as a cub reporter, where two of his four brothers also worked. He joined the Canadian army in 1943, fought on the front lines and at Normandy on D-Day. His lengthy Toronto newspaper run began after the war with the Telegram, followed by the Star, Globe, Catholic Register and the Sun. Along the way, he married twice, fathered four children, and beat the bottle. After retiring to scenic Midland in 1989, he conquered the home computer and dispatched his freelance garden columns from home. His office window overlooked his well-nurtured rose garden. Diagnosed with cancer in 1992, Vez the vet, newspaperman, author and accomplished gardener, died at Huronia District Hospital in Midland on May 25, 1994, his prized roses in full bloom. He was 70.
During his first week on the job in May of 1987, someone in the Sun newsroom asked "Who's the kid with the hat?" The "kid" was Jamie Westcott, 22, a summer student, and the hat he never removed covered his baldness from a series of heavy chemotherapy sessions. Doug Creighton helped Jamie land the job, but Jamie, son of Metro Toronto Police Commissioner Clare Westcott, wanted management and fellow newsroom staffers to know he was a worker keen on making a name for himself. Jamie was in his second year of a journalism course at Centennial College in Scarborough when diagnosed with cancer in December of 1986. Following surgery and chemo, he decided not to return to school. The Sun job fulfilled his dream of working in a newsroom. Jamie was assigned feature stories, including a column on the progress of SkyDome construction, in his first months on the job. An opening on the police desk gave Jamie an opportunity to shine. As a crime reporter/photographer, young Jamie won four police awards and gained the respect of colleagues. Clare Westcott said being accepted by colleagues was Jamie's goal and he gained that respect within weeks of his arrival. Jamie, one of nine children, got the journalism itch in watching his older sister, Genevieve Westcott, collect numerous print/broadcast awards across Canada and in New Zealand. His father had worked part-time for the Seaforth News and at the Telegram for three days (See The Westcotts posting) Jamie, a good-natured newsman with a contagious smile, lost his battle with cancer on June 13, 1989, but before he died, he learned there would be an annual Jamie Westcott Memorial Award for crime reporting. He wouldn't be forgotten. (The award was presented through the 1990's, but has since become a casualty of Quebecor's cutbacks.) Jamie died at Scarborough General Hospital, where he was born May 30, 1964. He was 25.
James Vaughan Yates, a Day Oner, emigrated from Scotland in 1967 and immediately embraced Canada - and the Toronto Telegram. Newspapers were his game for most of his 37 working years in Europe and Canada, with brief detours in 1966/67 to work for Scottish and Newcastle Breweries, and 1969/70 to work for Charles Barker and Associates in Toronto. The remaining years were spent in the Telegram newsroom and in the newsroom and business offices at the Sun. He was a rewrite editor/copy editor at the Tely from 1967 to 1969, detoured to Charles Barker briefly and returned to the Tely as reporter/rewrite editor in 1970 until the Tely folded. Jim helped launch the Sun as assistant city editor and wore a number of hats as the Sun grew, including photo editor, systems manager and as the Sun's first editorial controller. Stories about his accounting of every penny spent by staffers during his reign are legendary. The avid sailor enjoyed a pint and after buying his first home computer in 1981, he combined both while surfing the Net, communicating with sailors and armchair sailors around the world. Jim was the Sun's technology director in a post-Doug Creighton environment when he parted company none too amicably. He was working on a web site business months later when diagnosed with colon cancer. Jim died at Toronto Grace Hospital on Oct. 6, 2003. He was 60.
For just over two decades, the Toronto Sun’s impassioned anti-communist writing team consisted of Peter Worthington, Bob MacDonald and Lubor J. Zink. The columnists looked for communists under every rock, as Paul Rimstead was fond of saying. Lubor, born in Klapy, Czechoslovakia in 1920 had first hand experience with dictators and communists. He fled to England in 1939 after the Nazis invaded his homeland, became a member of the Czech underground and was a World War 2 hero. After the war, he returned home and was a Radio Prague broadcaster until the Communist Party took control in a 1948 coup. Lubor, jobless, fled to England with his wife and young son and a decade later, moved to Canada. The Brandon Sun in Manitoba was his first Canadian newspaper stop. As editor, his editorials won him a National Newspaper Award in 1961. The NNA caught the Telegram’s eye and he was hired as a columnist, based in Ottawa. When the Tely folded in 1971, he continued as a Toronto Sun columnist, often writing columns with an anti-communist or anti-Pierre Trudeau slant. Like Peter, Lubor twice ran as a federal Conservative candidate (Parkdale in 1972 and 1974) without success. After the fall of the Soviet Union, Lubor, in failing health, signed off at the Sun in 1993, leaving Peter and Bob to reflect on the diminished communist community. Lubor’s legacy included three volumes of published columns: Trudeaucracy in 1972; Viva Chairman Pierre in 1977 and What Price Freedom in 1981. Lubor died in 2004. He was 84.