Sunday, 30 October 2011

The 62, or so

One Toronto Sun fact that hasn't been nailed down in its first 40 years is the number of authenticated Day Oners, people who were on the job and on the payroll contributing to the first issue of the tabloid.

Most quoted number over the years is 62? Why? Who knows, but TSF should have been paying tribute to The 62, or so. 

In his 1993 book, Sunburned - Memoirs of a Newspaperman, Doug Creighton lists 82 Day Oners on one page, but refers to 62 on at least three other pages. 

Andy Donato tells TSF: "The exact number has always been a mystery. It was originally supposed to be 50 only, but as time went on we kept hiring more and more.  I always thought the number (for day one) was 72."
Ron Poulton's count in his 1976 book Life in a Word Factory is 69. 

In a 1975 Peter Worthington story about the Sun's move from the Eclipse building to 333, it was 68. 

So we turned to two Day Oners, John Downing and John Iaboni, for guidance. 

John Iaboni writes:

"First of all, my heartfelt thanks to you for all that you have done for this web site over the years. Your dedication and passion are remarkable; your work is most appreciated.

"Regarding the question about the 62, where that number came from, what the accurate number is and how one derives at what constitutes a Day Oner, quite frankly, the answers are hard to come by. 

"With Doug Creighton deceased, it falls upon Don Hunt and Peter Worthington to probably answer those queries - if they can. I say IF because even in Doug’s book, confusion does arise.
"When you sent your email, I sought out and found my copy of Sunburned - Memoirs of a Newspaperman. I intend to re-read it over the next few days as nostalgia mounts, but my quick glance at it prompted by your email uncovered three references to 62 - and that’s the figure I’ve most heard over the years.

"On Page 84, in a chapter entitled 'Sun Rising,' Doug talks about he, Don and Peter in the planning stages of the new paper in the wake of the Tely folding: “The first sign that we might have a popular idea with our new tabloid was that only three of sixty-two people we wanted opted to take a guaranteed job.”

"On Page 95, in a chapter entitled 'Sunburst', Doug talks about those anxious moments on the floor at Inland Publishing at 3 a.m. on November 1, 1971, as a delay left those there wondering if the presses would ever roll: “The sixty-two happy staffers at the Sun had long ago lost their happy smiles and were now looking desperate.”

"On Page 194, in a chapter entitled 'Eclipsed', Doug wrote of the emotional reception Sun staffers held in his honour at the old Eclipse building after he was deposed: “On day one of the Toronto Sun there were sixty-two people in the building. On this day there were 900 chanting and applauding.”

"OK, so that’s three references to 62. But then confusion arises on page 85 where, in a separate box out of a screened background, Doug wrote the following, which shows 20 additional names to the 62 (some freelancers perhaps because I know in our case Ted Reeve was never considered to be part of sports department even though we ran his column). You will note that suddenly “Day-oners” and “Originals” were subject to interpretation. Anyway, here’s what he wrote along with all the 82 names:

No book written about the Sun would be complete without naming our originals. I believe in every case they turned down another job to go for the brass ring. Here they are:

Ken Adachi, George Anthony, Frank Benedetti, Norm Betts, Ray Biggart, David Black, Christina Blizzard, Linda Bone, Bruce Borland, Kathy Brooks, Helen Bourke, James Brown, Mary Buchanan, Larry Collins, Olive Collins, Dave Cooper, Kaye Corbett, Ron Cornell, James Cowan, Jeff Crawford, Doug Creighton, Sandra D’Cruz, Andy Donato, John Downing, Frank Eames, Graham Evoy, Domenica Farella, David Farrer, Mike Farrugia, Doug Fisher, Hugh Funston, Paul Gillespie, George Gross, William Hay, Howard Hayes, Art Holland, Jac Holland, Eaton Howitt, Don Hunt, John Iaboni, Noel Ing, Gordon Jackson, Sherry Johnston, John Jursa, Margaret Kmiciewicz, Bill King, Wasyl Kowalishen, John LeMay, Bob MacDonald, John MacKay, Grant Maxwell, Mike McCabe, Bob McMillan, Cal Millar, Norm Milne, Ed Monteith, Michelle Morey, Bill Nicholson, Maury Nicholson, Don Nixon, Jean Osborne, Dick Plummer, Bruce Rae, Ann Rankin, Ted Reeve, Dennis Ricker, Paul Rimstead, Ken Robertson, Bob Routledge, Dick Shatto, Joan Sutton, Jim Thomson, Donnie Tonks, Ron Tonks, Sylvia Train, Bruce Tuttle, Ed Tybruczyk, Jim Walsh, Glen Woodcock, Peter Worthington, Jim Yates, Mary Zelezinsky.

(TSF: The names in bold are names that are not in Poulton's 1976 list.)

"So, John, that’s it, the best I can find without referring to the writings of Ron Poulton or Jean Sonmor. Whatever the number, however the interpretation, the fact is it was a small group and compared to working at the Tely, the group was a “family”  like no other. Glad I was a part of it!

Thanks for the input, John.

John Downing writes:

"Doug Fisher was a Day Oner. He was miffed that his name was seldom mentioned in the group.

"I had several arguments with Doug Creighton, who was the man in charge of anything to do with the Day Oners, over Percy Rowe and others who came several weeks later after the glorious start. 

"Percy had tried some magazine and didn't like it. Doug C. was firm. Unless a person was there on Oct. 31, the Sunday in between the Saturday the Tely closed, and the Monday when the Sun hit the streets, he or she was not a Day Oner. If he or she wasn't there, there had to be a commitment in the first week or so that they would be working for us. 

"This went far beyond any mention in any book. The whole share deal, which came much, much later, depended totally on whether Creighton considered you a Day Oner."

Thanks John.

We agree with Doug's description of a Day Oner, but where did the list of 82 names in his book originate when he refers to 62 several times on other pages? 

All too confusing.


  1. Donnie Tonks passed away this week. Funeral is March 5/12 at Jerritt.

  2. Will miss you around the track.