Saturday, 11 May 2013

Thank you, Peter Worthington (+ Memories)

We knew Peter Worthington was in hospital in Mexico when he turned 86 recently because the legendary Toronto Sun co-founder returned home and wrote about the experience in a Feb. 23 column.

That has been Peter's way over the decades - experience life's dangers as a war correspondent, a witness to  Jack Ruby's shooting of Lee Harvey Oswald in Dallas, a mountain climber and heart operation recipient and write about it for faithful Tely and Sun readers.

This week, we learned Peter's condition has worsened and we wondered where do you begin in thanking a Canadian newspaper icon who has been a presence at the Toronto Sun since Day One in 1971?

The vision of Peter, Doug and Don, co-founders of the Sun, changed the print media landscape in Canada and created thousands of job opportunities along the way. They did it with flare and with fairness to all who joined in for the exhilarating ride.

It was the job of a lifetime for many of the men and women in the Toronto Sun Family, so perhaps the best way to thank Peter for his tireless contributions to journalism and to Sun Media is invite comments on TSF.

We remain in awe of Peter's eventful life. A truly remarkable life, generously shared with newspaper readers around the world. Our thoughts are with Peter and his family.

Thank you, Peter Worthington.


  1. Thank you Peter for giving us youngsters in Canada a career worth dreaming about. It's only unfortunate that the dream has soured over the years. You make me wish I was around in the newspaper heyday, and not just catching the mere wisps of the career it used to be. You should be proud of what you've accomplished and rest easy knowing you will be missed by everyone.

  2. Obviously, this will not be a popular subject within the editorial crowd, but when I was part of stopping the union at editorial, I wrote a piece and posted it on two bulletin boards. I was not totally sure of what I posted, as I had not done much followup editing, and, was skeptical; that was, until I checked my voice mail later in the day. It was a message from Peter congratulating me on the "incredible" work with a 5 minute dialog. I still have that message today and always cherished it, and, will even more now. Receiving a message like this one from one of the most well-known international journalists, was like a message from one of the gods...or should I say "God"?
    One other story, in my early days before I committed occupation suicide and went to the press room, I worked with Ben Wicks. Often, I would look at an early morning cartoon, and say, "Ben, I don't get it". Ben would charge up to Peter's office, we were at 322 then, to get his approval. Ben would come stomping back, the cartoon already in pieces, "You ******* Canadians have no sense of humour!". I always knew that, although Peter and Ben were best friends, Peter would be a brutal critic. Even today, almost 40 years later, I think of Ben or Peter, I think of both of them and what it was like being a kid and working with these two icons; then, toss Donato into that mix and I was the Little Communist.
    I started working with these people as a kid at 17, I can still remember Peter scrambling around the Telegram editorial, always totally unorganized, and it is so hard to watch him, them, leave us, one by one; but, Peter, and so many others, gave me memories that will last forever. They gave us all at the Sun a life to remember. (Bruce Borland)

  3. Sorry to add a second post, but the memories keep popping back.
    Ben Wicks and Peter went to Biafra during the conflict.
    Ben came back with many stories, but one anecdote I have never forgotten.
    The Biafrans were defending a bridge from the Nigerians when they panicked and started to run.
    The story continues that Peter grabbed a gun and "kicked them in the ass" and made them defend the bridge successfully.
    Ben told the story so often that I have a visual image of Peter kicking the Biafrans in the ass and him joining the fight.
    Put all of the anecdotes about Peter and his history together, and there is one hell of a movie waiting to be made.

  4. My only comfort is knowing he checked out on his own terms before being pink-slipped by the witless corporate overlords currently slicing Sun Media to death by a thousand wounds. RIP, Peter.

  5. Peter Worthington, the Giant of Journalism, will be sorely missed, and as anyone from the earliest days of The Toronto Sun can attest, he had a remarkable life. He made for an exciting and energetic ride at The Toronto Sun for thousands of people, and created opportunities that would not have been there without him.

    In amongst the huge number of anecdotes of his Editorial and worldly accomplishments is his little-known admiration and recognizance of The Composing Room - the department that put his pages together and worked diligently to get the paper to press on time. Because of his down-to-earth attitude to everyone and everything at every level of The Sun, he made those of us in the "Back Shop" feel appreciated.

    Here is a letter he wrote to our then Composing Room Superintendent Paul Kelly in 1982, at the height of the fastest, busiest and most competitive newspaper wars in the country:

    26 Feb. 82

    Maybe this is an appropriate moment to reiterate that I think, and have thought for years, that the Sun composing room has been the best and most efficient and helpful in the business.

    It has certainly been the most consistently professional and able department in the Sun.

    I don't suppose this is going to change, but now with new "partners" coming in at the corporate level, I just wanted to say again how grateful I personally feel towards you guys for all the times you've rescued me from errors, and to thank you for never, ever, failing to meet a challenge.

    This isn't an obituary or anything, but simply a convenient occasion, before we start a new era, to express what I've felt for going on 10 1/2 years.

    Peter Worthington

  6. The death of Peter Worthington has sparked so many memories of a great man. When I was a reporter at the Toronto Sun in the 1970s, some of my friends would ask how I could possibly work for such a right-wing paper. I would always answer by saying it was a great place to work because the newsroom was energetic and creative and they never told me what to write. Then I would tell them about the morning my story about a Pierre Trudeau speech appeared in the paper. The night before, the prime minister had delivered a two-hour talk with his thumbs in his belt loops and using no notes. It was more of a lecture than a speech. At one point, he invited a heckler to make his point on stage. My photo of the PM sitting in a chair while the heckler spoke from the lectern accompanied the story. That morning, Peter (no fan of Trudeau) walked up to my desk and said, "That sounded like a great speech. I wish I'd been there." He always appreciated great moments because they make great journalism.
    As an editor, Peter treated us all with respect and lead by example, writing editorials and columns even though he could have easily rested on the laurels of his spectacular reporting career at the Telegram. As a person, he was friendly and funny and even passed the puck to the worst player on the team (me).
    Over the past few years, I have been lucky enough to bump into Peter occasionally at the grocery story here in Wellington. I was always thrilled to see him and to chat for a few minutes.
    Peter Worthington is an icon of journalism and one of my personal heroes. He never stopped fighting for what he believed in and that is something to be admired at a time when so many opinions flutter like weeds in the wind.
    It was an honour to have known Peter.