Saturday, 1 November 2008

Day Oners 7

Updated: see John Downing's blog posting and Sharon Lem's Toronto Sun story

Happy 37th birthday, Toronto Sun.

Yes, we are between birthday milestones, but year to year is the tempo now after almost 10 years of Quebecor ownership.

The rush to the Internet and the downsizing of the staff at 333 raise concerns about whether the print edition will reach 40.

We haven't heard if the For Sale sign at 333 produced any results. Perhaps downturns in the economy and condo development have given the 33-year-old Sun complex a reprieve.

But the inevitable is on the horizon: 333 will be sold and demolished and the four remaining Day Oners - Peter Worthington, Andy Donato, Christina Blizzard and Jim Thomson - will eventually bid adieu.

And that, as they say, will be that.

So we took this week to mark year 37 and to salute all of the Day Oners for rolling up their sleeves in a chilly old former factory and turning a dream into a reality.

This blogster is forever grateful to have worked in the Eclipse Building for six months before the move to the new Sun building, built from the ground up with great fanfare.

The move from 322 King Street West to 333 King Street East in the summer of 1975, less than four years after the paper was launched, was a resounding measure of success.

What a party it was until Doug Creighton's ouster as CEO on Nov. 5, 1992.

So many memories.

The last of the 69 Day Oners listed in Ron Poulton's Life in a Word Factory book to be mentioned here in our countdown to the 37th anniversary are the deceased.

We began with Doug Creighton's profile as co-founder and founding publisher. We end with:


(58) Ed Monteith, managing editor: The rock of the newsroom and a mentor to dozens of reporters who passed his way before he retired from the Sun in November 1990. Ed was 14 when hired by the Tely as a copy boy and was managing editor when the paper folded. Ed, a no-nonsense kind of newspaperman for five decades, suffered a fatal heart attack on Aug. 16, 1996. He was 69.

(59) Bob MacDonald: "A 10M Goof" was the first front page headline in the first Toronto Sun on Nov. 1, 1971, and the story was by Bob MacDonald. It would be the first of numerous Sun scoops written by Bob over the next three decades. And along the way, Bob was the ultimate mentor for newsroom colleagues, including his daughter, Moira, now an op-ed columnist at the tabloid. Bob was an affable Nova Scotia native, a story teller, a hockey player, an active AA member and a Regent Park Christmas Dinner supporter. The Tely vet provided exclusive coverage of the Springhill mine disaster and the FLO crisis. At the Sun, he was filed columns until colon cancer silenced the award winning journalist on Feb. 26, 2006. He was 76.

(60) Bill Hay, copy editor: A Tely/Sun character, no doubt. This chain-smoking, near-sighted copy editor's legacy includes numerous hilarious newsroom tales, including the day in 1971 when all of the day's wire photos on his desk went up in smoke. (Photo needed)

(61) Jim Yates, former assistant city editor, money manager: This easy going native of Scotland first worked for the Telegram in 1967, helped launch the Sun as assistant city editor in 1971 and was technology director when he severed ties with Quebecor in the 1990s. Jim, an avid sailor for most of his life, died of colon cancer on Oct. 6, 2003. He was 60.

(62) Paul Rimstead, columnist: A Sun legend if there ever was one, Paul was a reader favourite from Day One in '71 to his death on May 26, 1987, at age 52. He had a cast of characters for his widely read columns, including Flashbulb Freddy, Miss Hinky (his wife, Myrna), Rusty Rita, his car. Longtime Sun readers still talk about Paul, cherishing yellowing clippings of favourite columns. Bar hoppers remember his nightclub drum sessions. Race fans remember the horse he bought. Thousands of readers remember the Sun parties they attended on his open invitation. He ran for mayor, wrote a couple of books.

Photo department

(63) Wasyl Kowalishen, darkroom technician: The darkroom facilities in the Eclipse Building on Day One were flimsy compared to the Tely's darkroom, but Wasyl and the three photogs made do. Wasyl, quite the conversationalist, was proud of the achievements of the Sun pioneers. He was in a tux getting ready a private 30th anniversary Sun dinner for Day Oners when he suffered a stroke in his home on Oct. 31, 1991. He died Nov. 8, 1991. He was 63. 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." (Photo needed)

Sports department

(64) George Gross, founding sports editor: The Baron wasn't royalty, but he earned the honourary crown as the Sun's sports ambassador for almost four decades. He covered it all, from minor sports to world events, earning numerous awards along the way. The dapper, Czech-born journalist was sports editor from 1971 through 1986 and remained as corporate sports editor and columnist until his death. He was on the job the night before his fatal heart attack on Good Friday 2008. The National Newspaper Award winner recalled his Day One memories in 2001 and can be read here.

(65) Ken Adachi: Ken, a Vancouver-born former Japanese interment camp resident during WW2, worked briefly for the Telegram before joining the Sun's Day Oners in 1971. In 1972, he moved on to the Toronto Star's sports department, where he became the editor of the book pages in 1976, the same year The Enemy That Never Was, his acclaimed book on Japanese Canadians, was published. Ken was the Star's literary columnist when the first of two plagiarism accusations were raised. He committed suicide on Feb. 9, 1989. He was 60. (Photo needed)

(66) Eaton Howitt: This Guelph-born Day Oner, the wearer of many hats during his 41-year career, worked in newsrooms across Canada, capping his journalism days with 13 years at the Canadian Press. Known as one of the last top drawer drinkers, but always the pro, Eaton was said to have a sports who's who contact book to die for. When he died of cancer on April 14, 1987, at 61, Harold Ballard and Jake Gaudaur where among the sports elite to praise Eaton as a reporter and a man. "He just had a way with people," said Gaudaur, the former CFL commissioner who died last December. (Photo needed)


(67) Frank Eames: TSF has no information about Frank and time spent in the library. (Photo needed)


(68) Mike McCabe: Mike's lengthy association with the Sun began in circulation, where he was named circulation manager in 1973 and fleet manager (two Volkswagens and a Cadillac) years later. But the easy going Mike is best remembered as Doug Creighton's right hand man and chauffeur. He was a familiar face around the newsroom, where he chatted with a receptionist and walked her down the aisle in 1991. Doug chauffered Mike and his new bride. Mike retired to Fort Erie after Doug was ousted as CEO in 1992. He was at home on May 30, 2006, when he suffered a fatal heart attack. He was 76. "He was a prince of a guy," Len Fortune, then assistant managing editor, would say. (Photo needed)

Business office

(69) Art Holland: Office manager, furniture mover, pencil counter, Art did it all to help launch the Sun and remained a key player in keeping the Sun viable. Fellow Day Oners say Art was instrumental in moving anything that wasn't tied down at the defunct Telegram to the Eclipse Building at King and John Streets in the two days after the Tely folded. Peter Worthington called it a "hitherto undetected streak of larceny." Said Peter: "While others got accolades at the Sun, it was Art Holland who kept the internal workings of the paper harmonious." (Photo needed)

Many thanks to the Day Oners, here and gone.

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