Sunday, 20 October 2013

Canadian News Hall of Fame needs a home

Les Pyette - 2013 inductee
Raise your hand if you recognize the name Arthur Ford.

Or Gerald Filon.

Or John W. Dafoe.

Young, or old, don't feel guilty if you didn't know they were the first three inductees into the Canadian News Hall of Fame in 1966.

Ford was a longtime editor of the London Free Press; Filon was publisher of Le Devoir from 1947 to 1963 and Dafoe, a posthumous inductee, was editor of the Manitoba (Winnipeg) Free Press from 1901 to 1944.

Many more solid contributors to Canadian news gathering would be inducted, but the collective accomplishments of these men and women are nowhere to be found other than in a list of names on a bare bones webstite.  

(On the Toronto Telegram/Toronto Sun front, those media greats include Hall of Fame inductees Ted Reeve (1972), J. Douglas MacFarlane (1985), Doug Creighton (1988),  Trent Frayne (1992), Peter Worthington (1997), Douglas Fisher (2000) and Les Pyette (2013).

The shame of the Canadian News Hall of Fame is it does not have a home for its Wall of Fame and, until last year when Lloyd Robertson and Andy Walsh were inducted, it had been dormant since 2002.

The Hall of Fame had inductees from 1966 through 2001 annually except for 1996, when no names were added. When Gordon Donaldson, previous chair of the Hall of Fame died in 2001, it appeared the Hall of Fame died with him. There were no inductees from 2002 to 2011.

Kudos to Ian Connerty, current chair of the Canadian News Hall of Fame, for resurrecting the Hall of Fame last year and for his enthusiasm this year.   

This blogger met Ian this week at the Hall of Fame presentations and he appears to be someone who gets things done and this is one thing that needs to get done for the preservation of the history of Canadian print and broadcast media greatness.

"The Fame is currently in search of a new permanent home since the Ontario Club closed up," says Ian. "Our artifacts are in storage for now. Last year, we met with folks at Ryerson about location the Hall in heir new Communications building, but that didn't work out. We are looking for other options."

Ryerson would have been an ideal location.
Washington's popular Newseum
While media in the United States have the Newseum in Washington, D.C., to showcase the history of American print and broadcast media, Canada has an embarrassing void.

How the Newseum sums up its museum: "The Newseum - a 250,000-square-foot museum of news - offers visitors an experience that blends five centuries of news history with up-to-the-second technology and hands-on exhibits."

In Canada, no news museum, not even a wall to hang the Canadian News Hall of Fame plaques, now sitting in storage gathering dust.

Ed Patrick, longtime president of the all-but-defunct Toronto Press Club (now known as Toronto Press and Media Club and still homeless) singled out the Toronto Star's John Honderich at this week's Canadian News Hall of Fame dinner when talking about the need for a new showcase for the Hall of Fame.

Why single out John? Canada's media conglomerates and surviving independents should come to an agreement on the financing of accommodations for a new Canadian News Hall of Fame/media museum.

Have journalists across the country research the inductees and the history of Canadian media and contribute their findings to the Hall of Fame/media museum.

Or honour the inductees with an online virtual media museum, displaying each of their Hall of Fame plaques, along with their biographies and photographs, plus other media-related material.

With the successful 2013 inductions of Les Pyette and Boris Spremo still fresh in the minds of media across Canada, it is time to strive for a new home for the Hall of Fame before the 2014 inductions.

Whether a physical building, or a professionally-designed website, Canadian media should collectively do no less to honour the 100-plus greats of the news business.

Set a deadline and get it done.


  1. From John Downing:

    Questions I have: Does the Toronto Press Club, which started and owned the Hall, still exist?

    What happened to the plaques (each honouring a recipient in nickel) that were last seen in a room when the TPC was part of the Ontario Club? Are they in storage somewhere?

    Is the old Hall related to the new one, and is there something on the Internet explaining the revival?

    regards john downing

  2. From Ian Connerty,

    Hi John
    Great column. I like your idea of a Virtual home for the Hall of Fame while we find an appropriate new home.

    I also agree it should not be one newspaper that hosts the Hall. A university would be ideal, but failing that I also like your idea of ALL the media working together to fund a new permanent home for the Hall.

    Also . . .I will write to (John Downing) and answer his questions.


  3. Nearly every newspaper now is a museum. Why build another one?

  4. From Christine Sirois,

    There are a few organizations that seek to unite journalists. The first one that comes to mind in J-Source. The Canadian Association of Journalists could be a valuable partner as well.

    Maybe we should consider pairing up with them somehow to get some momentum behind the project.


  5. I believe a physical museum is a great idea. Yet admittedly, I have a personal interest in this concept. As one example, my Dad has a room in his home that houses some of his first cameras, classic photos and other memorabilia, including an old typewriter. Imagine what else could be collected from across the country and preserved?

    Diana Spremo
    daughter of Boris Spremo