Wednesday, 29 December 2021

On October 14, 2021, a dozen men and women who were in the trenches for the rising of the Toronto Sun on Nov. 1. 1971, gathered for a Day Oners reunion on Zoom. 
Moderated by Mike Strobel, edited by Peter Welsh and produced by John Cosway, these are their memories of a most memorable Halloween weekend 50 years ago.

Sunday, 12 September 2021

Toronto Sun In Memoriams 1971-2021

In this 50th year of the Toronto Sun, we remember many of the deceased men and women from all departments who helped grow the little paper that grew. 
Most were employed under the management of founders Doug Creighton, Peter Worthington and Don Hunt. 
Researched by John Cosway, a 19-year employee, with the assistance of numerous Toronto Sun Family group members.
Into the Sunset 1
Toronto Sun In Memoriam: Day Oners 9m
Into the Sunset 2
Toronto Sun In Memoriam: Over the Decades 40m


Kudos to the numerous Toronto Sun Family members who assisted in providing many of the 150-plus photos, plus birth and death dates, required for the In Memoriams in the past eight months.

It has been truly a family effort in memory of the many colleagues we lost along the way, far too many gone before their time.

If you know the email addresses of relatives of deceased colleagues, please share the YouTube page links with them.

Wednesday, 21 March 2018

Open Forum: Spring/Summer 2018

The beat goes on, but with fewer TSF blog insiders, the pulse is much weaker. 

Sunday, 18 March 2018

At 30 - Jean Houghton

Jean Houghton
Jean Houghton, a no-nonsense Toronto Sun newsroom secretary from 1976 to 2002, died recently from a heart attack. She was 80.
Jean being Jean, she was “adamant” in her instructions to her children not to have a funeral or publish an obit on her passing (Jan. 31). She was quietly cremated.
For six weeks, there was silence except for grieving among family and close friends. But daughters Elizabeth and Sarah knew her other family, the Toronto Sun, should be told of Jean’s passing.
Elizabeth emailed me via the Toronto Sun Family blog, sent a photo of her mother and worked with her sister to write a tribute to Jean because “it means a lot to us. The Sun was a very big part of her life.”
Jean, as remembered by Sun vets, “always said it like it was,” said Elizabeth. “She never minced words. She really enjoyed working at the Sun and the many people there.”
As for the photo, “she would have been less than thrilled, but I think she would understand.”
The is what Sarah wrote for the Toronto Sun Family:
 Jean Houghton started at the Toronto Sun in 1976, as a secretary on the city desk. Over the years, Jean was a key personality in the newsroom until her retirement in 2002.  You always knew where you stood with her, good or bad, and she'd swear at you either way. Then laugh.
Jean will be remembered for her big glasses and her even bigger personality - and the menthol cigarettes that she loved so much.
She spoke incredibly highly of her friends, co-workers and bosses at the Sun. There were times that her 'family' at the Sun helped her out immensely. There were also times that Jean helped people out. As her kids, we could see the quality of her character and the quality of the people that she knew.
After she retired from the Sun, Jean spent her time trying new recipes, new crafts, seeing old friends and so much more. Jean lived close to her eldest daughter, Elizabeth and her two grandsons, Noah and Jacob.
Jean taught her grandkids to make her famous chicken supreme - and they provided computer trouble shooting, as Jean was an avid user of Pinterest and other social media sites. Jean and Elizabeth walked their dogs together, daily, and Jean was a well-known fixture in the dog park community. 
Jean loved making meals for her family and every holiday and birthday would have eight (or more) people gathered in her apartment, eating the best food and laughing a lot. 
Jean passed away from a heart attack on January 31, 2018. She is greatly missed by daughters Elizabeth and Sarah (Andy); son Drew (Corina); her wonderful best friend Robin; and her very favourite people in the world, her grandsons Noah and Jacob.  Big thanks to the staff at St. Mike's for their stellar care of Jean.
Memories of Jean Houghton can be emailed to 
John Cosway (TS 1975-1994): "I never knew a woman who could curse you up and down as Jean did before breaking the ice with a smile. The tiger lady, Les Pyette’s main woman in the 1970s, was really a teddy bear in disguise. Condolences to the family." 

Monday, 2 October 2017

Fall/winter 2017/18 open forum

Another season, another reason for Toronto Sun Family members to stay in touch.

Sunday, 1 October 2017

At 30 - Crime Flashback's Max Haines

On a sad note, we say farewell to Max Haines, the Toronto Sun's crime writer who turned murder and mayhem into an industry. Mike Strobel came out of retirement to pay homage to gentle Max, who died Sept. 30. Feel free to add your comments.

By Mike Strobel,

Death was Max Haines’ stock in trade. No one could write murder and mayhem like Max.

In his deft hands, death came alive — for 34 years, 28 books and 2,500 wildly popular Crime Flashback columns in the Sun.

Name the demise and Max wrote about it, with a twinkle and a wry touch: Decapitation, poison, strangling, shooting, stabbing, vats of acid, bludgeoning...

Max made murder fun, death droll.

But there is nothing fun or droll about progressive supranuclear palsy (PSP). It is a rare, slow and incurable neurological scourge akin to Parkinson’s disease.

It claimed Max Haines, at age 86, in the wee hours of Saturday at his Etobicoke home.

There never was a newspaperman quite like him. A story-teller without peer.

Funny, but it all started with faulty pantyhose.

Max had sallied forth from Antigonish, Nova Scotia, to conquer the world of women’s undergarments. He set up shop in Toronto. Business was brisk — but brief. One fateful day, Max forgot to check the elastic waistbands on a big shipment of pantyhose leaving his factory.

Soon, a hue and cry arose from women across Canada — and Max looked around for a new career.
His passion was writing true crime stories and in 1972 he walked into the Sun newsroom with a sample, about iconic axe-murder suspect Lizzie Borden. It was the best $15 managing editor Ed Monteith ever spent.

Max, triumphant, returned to his car, where the lovely Marilyn and daughters Susan, Maureen and Eleanor were waiting.

“We all went out for ice cream,” Marilyn tells me Saturday, from her home, as the family gathers.

As any longtime Sun reader knows, Lizzie Borden was just the start. Over three decades, Max’s columns were gathered into books like Bothersome Bodies, Doctors Who Kill, Multiple Murderers II, and Celebrity Murders and Other Nefarious Deeds.

My favourite Max Haines fiends included the snake Bob James, who arranged for a rattler to bite his wife and Englishman John Haigh, who dissolved six victims in sulphuric acid and poured them in his back yard.
The heinous Mr. Haigh did not know gallstones are too gritty even for acid — an oversight that helped hang him.

I asked Max how to commit the perfect murder. (Hypothetically, of course.)

“Move to Texas,” he replied. “Everyone has a gun down there. The good wife always says, ‘Gee I thought it was an intruder and it was dark and I plugged him in the heart.”

“And in Texas, you need two kills to your credit before they take you seriously.”

Max retired in 2006, though Crime Flashback lived on in syndication. The Sun city desk still gets calls from readers demanding his return.

None of those calls, I’ll bet, was from Dennis Melvyn Howe, the presumed killer of Sharin’ Morningstar Keenan. The nine-year-old girl was found strangled in Howe’s rooming house on Brunswick Ave. in 1983, a case that shocked Toronto out of all innocence.

Max never gave up the hunt for Howe, who is now 77 if he’s still in our midst. Max chased lead after lead, kept a mug shot in his wallet and often revisited the case in his column.

“He’s my boogeyman,” Max told me.

Says Marilyn: “Max wanted to find that guy so badly.”

What sweet irony it would be if news of Haines’ death triggers a memory, or stirs a conscience, in someone out there.

What a fitting tribute to Max that would be.

Sunday, 26 March 2017

Spring/summer 2017 open forum

Another season, another reason to stay in touch...

All of TSF's reliable tipsters have retired, been fired, been bought out or have sold out so feel free to enlighten us with TSF news that counts.

Sunday, 18 September 2016

Open Forum - Fall/winter 2016 forum

The 45th anniversary of the Toronto Sun will be marked on Nov. 1, 2016. Have your say on the anniversary or any other Sun-related topic.

Saturday, 12 March 2016

Memories of 333

Toronto Sun employees are packing their belongings for the move to Postmedia on March 25, ending 40-plus years of newspapering at 333 King St. E.

Sun employees moved from the Eclipse building into their new digs in May of 1975. At its peak, 333 had six floors of Sun employees, its own presses, a cafeteria and photo studio.

Current and former Toronto Sun employees who worked at 333 are invited to share their memories.

From Facebook

Errol Nazareth: I can't believe The Sun is moving out of 333. So many memories of working there are flooding back. I have to say this: Regardless what folks think of the paper - and I have criticized its stance on many issues many times - I was treated with complete respect when I worked there.

When Les Pyette hired me in the early 90s - thanks, Tom Godfrey - I was given an amazing opportunity ~ working as a general assignment reporter on weekends and writing what many have told me is that 'legendary Friday write about any artist I wanted and not once was I censored. And every news reporter I worked with was always ready to help me with a story if I needed it.

After being laid off, John Kryk brought me back to write the Friday column. And when I was desperately looking for work about 5 years back, Glen Garnett reached out to me and told me QMI Agency was looking for a writer.

I pass by 333 every day and it's going to take a while for the news to sink in. (Received) a fun plaque they gave me when I left. Jim Slotek...i'm looking at you!

Claire Bickley: I grew up in that newsroom, made lifelong friends and was blessed with colleagues and mentors who left an indelible mark in my life: Jeanie MacFarlane was my coach and rock from the day I began. It was my great, great fortune to work with Kathy Brooks. Before Jean Houghton I knew how to swear but not with style. Jerry Gladman, my extraordinary friend, I still hear your voice in my head.

I will always consider those years, those people and all of those adventures among the best years of my life. To every member of our Toronto Sun Family, every best wish on your path.

Ian Harvey: That's what I miss the most. I grew up there. I arrived as a 23 year old... got married, had kids, got divorced. The one constant were the people at 333. We fought, we argued, we laughed we partied and we worked and played hard.It was a wonderful time to be in the business. The sky seemed no limit. We went into the boards hard against the competition. We revelled in being the underdog.

How sad this industry has become but the bond between us remains.
Someone oughta study it for a Rotman School of Business case study.
I remember when Teachers or some other bankers bought into the paper, one of the things they said was they placed a value on the culture.

Pity that the bean counters eventually pissed that value away. 

John Fracassi: At my first job in the 1970s, i saw the end of the old fashioned presses and the introduction of the compugraphic. It was the end of one era. The sale of the Sun and the massive layoffs that ensued, was the end of another era.

This is sad because those who will continue this business of newspaper work will never experience the exhilaration, the excitement, the thrills, the fighting, the arguing, the ingenuity displayed by the people who wrote all those stories, took all those photos, put out all those wonderful newspapers (and sometimes scratching our heads wondering how we did it). 

We mark the end of an era. i am happy i was privileged to be there and experience it.

Wednesday, 9 March 2016

At 30 in 2015

Toronto Sun
At 30 - 2015

Jennifer Gough, 63 – January 1

Randy Thompson, 62 - April 27

David Ellis, 70 – August 22

William “Bill” Duff, 68 - August 28

Pauline Mason, 68 – September 5

Audrey Levtov, 82 - November 19