Friday 8 December 2006

Hired: 1970s

When the Toronto Sun was launched Nov. 1, 1971, there were 62 employees. As the circulation steadily grew, more people were hired in all departments.

This blog will follow employees who were hired in the 1970s, from their first day on the job to where they are today. (Read our The Departed blog tributes to those employees who are gone but not forgotten.)
(For 1970s bio and photo submissions or corrections, e-mail us)

The 1970s:

Ray Biggart
Nov. 1, 1971 - 1973
Ray Biggart was the Toronto Sun's first City Editor. He later opened the first Queen's Park bureau for the Sun. He left the paper in the fall of 1973 to work for the Metropolitan Toronto government as a political aide, and in time had turns running the ambulance department and was administrator of other Metro departments.In 1988, Ray retired as head of the Metro Parks and Culture Department, having managed the integration of the seven parks departments at the time of municipal amalgamation. He was part of the group that saved the Santa Claus Parade, and is still secretary-treasurer of the charity that operates the parade. Ray also served as president of the Toronto Press Club. His time is now divided among his home in Toronto, a cottage in the Kawarthas, and the home in Florida where he and his wife Lorrie spend the winters.

David Cooper
1971 - 1977
"I was one of the lucky originals that had all the fun starting the little paper that grew. In the first few days, Doug Creighton would open champagne at the close of the edition each night. One night, George Anthony threw a catered dinner from his favourite Chinese restaurant - air freighted from Montreal! I shot the very first SUNshine Girl in Henry's as Jac Holland and Norm Betts and I bought the darkroom equipment on Saturday so we could put out the first paper Sunday for Monday. Stayed until September 1977, when I went to the Toronto Star. Still there 29 years later."

Andy Donato
Nov. 1, 1971 -
Andy Donato, a prolific, award-winning editorial cartoonist/artist, is one of the few Day Oners still at the Sun. Born in Scarborough in 1937, he graduated from Danforth Technical School in 1955. After a brief stint as a layout artist at Eaton's, he joined the Toronto Telegram in 1961 as a graphic artist in the promotion department and the rest is history. His first editorial cartoon appeared in the Telegram in 1968. While at the Tely, Andy created a complete dummy tabloid - the news section, Susan Ford, Page Six and "all the other stuff," for attempts by Doug Creighton, John Downing and Andy MacFarlane to convince the Bassett family a morning tabloid to compliment the evening Telegram would be a good move. "I can't remember if we called it The Sun," says Andy. "I think it was just called The News, or something like that." Andy said his mock tabloid was hand drawn and glued together, "but what I could have done on a computer . . ." The Bassetts didn't buy the tabloid idea, but much of what Andy had created was put to good use for the new Toronto Sun after the Tely folded in 1971.
Drawing cartoons at the Sun was part-time until 1974. For more than 30 years, the often-controversial Donato cartoons, bird and all, have been a daily treat for readers. Joe Clark's mittens, Brian Mulroney's chin, Pierre Trudeau's eccentricities - all favourites. A world-famous Donato cartoon depicted the Iwo Jima flag raising in the backside of the Ayatollah Khomaini. His popular annual best-of cartoon books were often sold out, so it is puzzling why they are no longer being published by Sun Media. Owning an original Donato cartoon is a collector's challenge. Andy and his wife, artist and former Sun staffer Dianne Jackson, also host annual art gallery shows.

Douglas Fisher Nov. 1, 1971 - 2006
Douglas Fisher
, a Tely/Sun Ottawa Bureau icon for 46 years, could well be the most prolific political columnist in Canada. Doug was a familiar Toronto Telegram face on Parliament Hill for a decade when theTely folded on Oct. 30, 1971. Two days later, he became a Day One political columnist for the Toronto Sun, writing more than 6,000 columns before retiring in 2006. All the while, Douglas was a devoted family man, raising five children - Matthew, Mark, Luke, John and Tobias, with Matthew eventually following his father into journalism, working as a Sun columnist for 10 years. Douglas was born in Sioux Lookout and raised in Fort William in northwestern Ontario, the son of a Canadian National Railways engineer. Journalism was not his first line of work. He ran a trap line, was a gold miner, forest fire fighter, a warplane assembly line worker, a WW2 soldier (landing at Normandy with the 12th Manitoba Dragoons armoured reconnaissance regiment), a beer salesman, librarian, high school teacher, historian, a four-term Member of Parliament for the CCF (in 1957, he defeated C.D. Howe in Port Arthur, now Thunder Bay), he was co-founder and president of Hockey Canada, teaming up with Al Eagleson to organize the 1972 Canada-Russia hockey series, and he was also a CTV television host. The eclectic occupations and interests, plus degrees from the University of Toronto, Queen's University and the University of London, provided fodder for his widely read columns for more than four decades. In November of 2007, Douglas, at 89, was busy writing his memoirs at his Ottawa-area residence. Having met 10 prime ministers as a journalist, that should be one interesting book.

John Iaboni
Nov. 1, 1971 - Oct. 31, 1984
John Iaboni
is a Day Oner from the Sun sports department. Even to this day, he encounters people who still think he's with the Sun - and he says he's forever proud that association remains. The Toronto-born Iaboni worked at the Telegram covering high schools, minor hockey, minor sports and junior hockey from 1968 until its closing on Oct. 30, 1971, a job he handled while completing his studies at Oakwood Collegiate. He says t
he everlasting highlight from his Tely days was writing the first-ever story in a major publication on a 10-year-old kid from Brantford named Wayne Gretzky. It was Johnny F. Bassett who brought the young phenom to Iaboni's attention and it was Johnny F’s enthusiasm that sold Iaboni on going to see Gretzky in action. Iaboni's story appeared in the Tely on Oct. 28, 1971, and it has been picked up, quoted and used around the world in all forms of media since it first appeared. Iaboni covered almost every sport there was during his time at the Sun. From 1971 to May 1973, he did so while completing his studies at the University of Toronto, celebrating his graduation day by covering a Metros' soccer game only hours after his convocation. He handled training camp and the first two games of the 1972 Canada-Soviet Summit; was the NHL beat writer full-time from 1973 until January 1984, when he became assistant sports editor. In 1980, Iaboni was sent to Italy to cover an earthquake and his reports received acclaim inside and outside the Sun. Iaboni left the Sun to become director of media and public relations at the Canadian Football League from Nov. 1, 1984, until Nov. 30, 1989. He then launched his own company and his clients included Time Warner Sports, the National Hockey League and Major League Baseball. Since 1991, Iaboni has been executive editor of the official game program/magazine of the Toronto Maple Leafs. He currently also holds similar posts for the official programs/magazines of the Toronto Raptors and Toronto Blue Jays. At other times, he was also executive editor/writer for game programs/magazines for the Toronto Argonauts and the Toronto Metros. Nobody in the history of Toronto sports can lay claim to holding those positions for ALL of Toronto’s major sports teams. Iaboni covered the Toronto portion of the Montreal Olympics for the Sun in 1976 and, since 1994, has been a writer penning features and working with on-air hosts for Olympic Games in Lillehammer (Norway) with CTV, then with CBC in Atlanta, Nagano (Japan), Sydney (Australia), Salt Lake City, Athens (Greece) and Torino (Italy). He looks forward to working with CBC’s Olympic coverage for Beijing in 2008. Iaboni remembers fondly his days as player and player/coach for the Sun softball team and all the parties over the years that made the Sun more than a place of work, but also a true “family.” Iaboni never left the Sun because of unhappiness, but rather to pursue other avenues. He says the place (as he knew it) and the people forever remain in his heart.

Peter Worthington
Nov. 1, 1971
One of the three wise men - along with
Doug Creighton and Don Hunt - who secured $600,000 with the assistance of Eddie Goodman and launched the Toronto Sun two days after the Toronto Telegram folded. The tireless, globe-hopping Tely reporter and former WW2 and Korean War vet continued his media ways as a Sun co-founder with equal zest. While at the Tely, Peter was standing a few feet away when Jack Ruby gunned down Lee Harvey Oswald in a Dallas police station. He had been a Tely foreign correspondent since 1956. At the Sun, he has been many things to many people. For a time, he was a thorn in the side of Creighton, who fired him in the 1980's, then re-hired him. Peter, a staunch Conservative, met his match in 1989 when leftist Ed Asner, aka Lou Grant, was hired by the Sun as City Editor in one of the Sun's most memorable fun moments. Peter dabbled in federal politics in two unsuccessful bids in the Broadview-Greenwood riding in the 1980's; he is a multiple National Newspaper Award winner; he was jailed briefly for violating the Official Secrets Act; he authored Looking For Trouble - A Journalist's Life and Then Some (1984) etc. Peter's columns still have clout as he approaches his 80th birthday on Feb. 16, 2007. Several of his columns helped save the Bergeron Exotic Animal Sanctuary in Picton, with readers donating more than $30,000. Worthington has said the turning point for the Sun occurred in 1982 when it lost its independence (with the sale of controlling interest to Macleans.) But what a ride it was thanks to Peter and 61 other Day Oners.

Cal Millar
Nov. 1, 1971 - 1983
I was with the Toronto Telegram when the publisher announced on September 18, 1971 – my wedding day – that the newspaper would cease publication as of October 30, 1971. Upon returning from my honeymoon, there was a message from Doug Creighton inviting me to join the staff of the Toronto Sun, a new newspaper to be launched Monday, November 1. It was quite an experience. With only a couple of weeks before the birth of the Sun, I was one of a handful of people moving all sorts of equipment that we could purloin from the Tely and get over to the Sun's office in a converted building on King Street West. A factory floor in the four-story building was converted to a newsroom, complete with city desk, electric typewriters that produced pages that could be fed into a scanner and transformed to a punch tape to directly set type, as well as numerous other innovations that were considered absolutely revolutionary at the time.
Initially, the paper was just a newsroom, darkroom, advertising department and business office. Both the production and printing were provided by the Mississauga News and I remember standing with Dave Cooper and Norm Betts at the Wolfedale Rd. plant when Doug Creighton, Peter Worthington and Don Hunt made the decision to print extra copies as the first edition of the Toronto Sun rolled from the press. From that moment, the Toronto Sun was a success story. My time at the Toronto Sun was like a wild roller coaster ride that I never wanted to get off. It wasn't unusual to spend 15 to 20 hours a day chasing the news. As one of only five reporters covering the city and the globe, it wasn't unusual to write the headline story a couple of times a week. We weren't expected to cover every story, but on those we sank our teeth into, the goal was to have much more information and far better coverage than anyone in the opposition. Crime news and politics was the mainstay of the paper on the news side, but we gained respect through a variety of columnists and a sports department that gave coverage from peewee events to the pros. The Sun also had the best photographers and for years, a full size front- page news photo was the selling point that had readers picking up the paper from street boxes and newsstands. After 12 years with the Toronto Sun, including a short sabbatical, I accepted a position as a reporter-photographer with the Toronto Star and worked with that paper until my retirement in January 2005.

Gary Dunford
1973 - 2005
We have dispatched a dog sled to the wilds of Northern Ontario to ask Gary for a bio. While awaiting a reply, we can tell you the one and only Page Six filed 7,127 columns from 1973 to his exit in 2005. His first column appeared in the third issue of the Sunday Sun. In the 1970's, Sun readers never had it so good - Dunf's unique Page Six columns, Paul Rimstead's offbeat columns, Andy Donato's editorial cartoons etc. etc. The Sun shone bright. Gary's column was a Canadiana who's who, from local politicians to prime ministers and celebs galore. Telephone tipsters lined up to reach Dunf and provide him with tidbits worthy of Page Six ink. Sun staffers also competed for mention in Dunf's column, offering puns, jokes and insider stuff in quick visits to his desk. Management and readers dug Dunf. Readership surveys consistently put him at the top of the charts. Which brings us to two Sun layout decisions that boggled the mind: moving the SUNshine Girl to the back pages and ending Dunford's Page Six reign in the 1990's. Dunf's readers had to search for his wayward column. In his final column, Dunf wrote: "The Sun's been very good to me." And Gary Dunford, for 32 years, was very good to the Sun and its readers.

Brian Vallee
1973 - 1975
Brian Vallee
, one of the first of 10 Windsor Star imports to arrive at the Toronto Sun, was hired in 1973 with political reporting in mind. Says one of the charter members of the Sun's Windsor Mafia: "For most of the time I was there, I was the Sun's Queen's Park reporter and columnist. I even took photos from time to time." Brian had worked for newspapers in England and the United States before landing in Windsor. Ron Base was the first Windsor Star import in 1973, followed by Brian. "When the Sun was looking for a city editor, Ron and I recommended that Les Pyette might fit their needs. The rest is history."
Brian, Ron, Mark Bonokoski, Bruce Blackadar and other members of the Windsor Mafia raised the bar for reporting at the young tabloid. In 1975, Brian moved on to the Toronto Star, where he worked for three years before spreading his wings once again to tackle CBC TV documentaries and write fiction and non-fiction books. He was researcher and associate producer of John Zaritsky's documentary Just Another Missing Kid, which won Zaritsky an Oscar in 1982. (Brian corrected an earlier Toronto Sun Family posting. He said it was John's Oscar, not his, but John mentioned his name on stage during his Academy Awards speech. "It was a hell of a thrill when John thanked me before such a huge television audience. (Back in Toronto) he let me hold the Oscar and take it out for a couple of drinks, which was a hoot.") Two of the numerous CBC documentaries Brian worked on won Actra Awards for the fifth estate and Brian was associate producer for the one-hour documentary Cruel Camera, which won an Audubon Society Award. Brian added to his list of accomplishments when his first non-fiction book, Life With Billy, was published in 1986. The best-selling book, based on the life of terror of Jane Stafford at the hands of her abusive husband, Billy, in Nova Scotia, spawned a sequel, Life After Billy in 1993, an award-winning TV movie in 1995 and a combined book, Life and Death With Billy, in 1998. Another non-fiction book Brian enjoyed researching and writing was Edwin Alonzo Boyd - The Story of the Notorious Boyd Gang, published by Doubleday Canada in 1997. During his research for the book about the notorious gang that terrorized Toronto in the forties and fifties, Brian got to sit down with Edwin Alonzo Boyd for an interview. Brian also produced and directed a one-hour documentary on Boyd for CBC's Life and Times series. Today, with numerous books (see the TSF authors list) and television documentary credits, Brian continues to work on freelance projects for the CBC and is writing another book, Elly Armour and the War on Women, a Key Porter publication scheduled for release in November 2007. Newspapers groomed Brian well for what has been three decades of success as an author and a documentary researcher/producer/director. But with all of his success, Brian still fondly remembers his time working at the upstart Sun in the Eclipse Building three decades ago. That is why he was among the 150 former and current Sun staffers at a 35th anniversary reunion in November, a timely event organized by the Save Our Sun movement.

Hugh Wesley
1973 - 2000
Hugh Wesley was hired in 1973 as a reporter/photographer to bolster editorial for the launch of the Sunday Sun. The Sunday Sun, with Phil Sykes as its first city editor, was an instant hit with readers, selling out all 65,000 copies of the first edition in September 1973. Hugh settled in for a long and productive run at the Sun but not as a two-way man. "I was hired as a two-way, but soon discovered photogs worked less and got a car," says Hugh. The Sun got it's money's worth with Hugh behind a lens. Hugh consistently picked up spot news awards and he had an eye for captivating SUNshine Girls. Hugh's talents earned him the photo desk editor's job in the years before his departure in 2000. Hugh now shoots for various publications and is working on the fifth edition of Comfort Life, a senior's magazine he started with Andrew Stawicki. He is now married to Muriel, his first boss at the Etobicoke Advertiser. Muriel, who recently retired after 30 years with the United Church Observer, taught him well. Hugh says Loyalist College's photojournalism program is still dear to his heart and he has been "helping out on their advisor board for umpteen years" and it is where a daughter is attending classes.

Tony Cote
1973 - 1977
It has been nearly 30 years since I last set foot in the Sun building. Since leaving the paper in 1977 for work in my hometown (Ottawa), I have done everything from reporting to desk work to editorial writing to my present activity of column writing (Ottawa Citizen). Through that time, I managed to raise three kids and, sadly, lose my wife to cancer. My years at the Sun were some of my favourite in this business. Phil Sykes' expertise at tuning us into some sort of British tabloid, Dave Farrar's ability to make copy sing, Eddie Monteith's laugh, the beautiful downtown Eclipse Building, Paul Rimstead, Doug Creighton and the beer machine. What memories. What fun.

Mark Bonokoski
1974 -
Mark Bonokoski arrived at the Toronto Sun in 1974 as a member of the Windsor (Star) Mafia. He became news columnist in 1977. Mark was the first Toronto journalist to write about Nova Scotia's brutal Billy Stafford, who abused his commonlaw wife, Jane Hurshman, until she shot him dead. (Former Sun staffer Brian Vallee later wrote the acclaimed book Life With Billy.) Mark was transferred to London as the Sun's European bureau chief in 1988 and the award-winning staffer filed copy from the shadow of the Berlin Wall the night it fell in November of 1989. In 1991, he was appointed Editor of the Ottawa Sun and became Publisher and CEO of the Ottawa Sun in 1997. In 1999, he walked the plank and rose as Sun Media's national affairs columnist in Ottawa. He left the Sun (stupidly) in 2000 to pursue a career as a federal politician, crashed and burned. Mark returned to the Toronto Sun as a columnist in 2002, where he was welcomed back with three Dunlop Awards and a National Newspaper Award nomination. Columns he has penned in the past two years about the Deering sisters of Port Perry, Erica and Shannon, helped raise more than $50,000 from readers for experimental stem-cell surgeries in China. The sisters were left quadriplegics in an August 2004 car accident. That is the impact of the heart-felt words of a veteran Sun columnist. He cared in 1974 when hired by the Sun and he still cares 32 years later.

Alan Craig
1973 (summer), 1974 - 1977
I worked as a two-way person on the Sun police desk in the summer of 1973, then full-time from April 1974 to December 1977, when I went to the Toronto Fire Department. I joined Toronto Emergency Medical Services in May 1982 and moved through the ranks to become EMS deputy chief in April 1999. I'm sure no one other than the Early Guys (Jac Holland, Norm Betts, Dave Cooper, Hugh Wesley, Tony Cote, Mike Peake, Bill Sandford (then a stringer) would even remember my name. It was most fun at 322 King Street West. No regrets, all the way around

Les Pyette
1974 - 2002
They fondly call Lester Clifford Pyette the Kid From the Soo. The Sault Ste. Marie-born newsman left an indelible mark on Sun newsrooms in Toronto and Calgary over more than a quarter of a century.
Les got his start in newspapers in his teens when hired by the Sault Ste. Marie Star as a sports reporter. After five years, he moved on to the Belvidere Daily Republican near Chicago and trekked back to Canada two years later when hired by the Windsor Star. The Toronto Sun newsroom was still blossoming in July of 1974 when Les, 29, was hired as city editor. Brian Vallee and Ron Base, former co-workers at the Windsor Star, were at the Sun when the search began for a new city editor. They endorsed Les and he was hired. Les quickly lured more talented Windsor Star newsmen to the Sun, including Mark Bonokoski, Bruce Blackadar, Greg Parent, Lloyd Kemp, Ben Grant, Bob Burt, and Cam Norton and all were soon tagged the Windsor Mafia. Newsroom newcomers, novice or experienced, all got the Les Pyette school of tabloid journalism message in six words: "Tight and Bright" and "Make it Sing." As a Sun reporter, you learned quickly with Les at the helm and with Jim Yates as his ACE. The numerous news awards being won reflected the enthusiasm of his staff. After four short years as city editor, Les was promoted to assistant managing editor, where the front page became his pet. The avid hockey player scored repeatedly as AME in showing tabloids everywhere how to do it right. Front page after front page wowed readers and the competition. Les left the building in 1980 to help transform the Calgary Albertan into another Sun tabloid. Les was missed in Toronto, but his tabloid skills gave the young Calgary Sun the foundation it needed to survive. The Toronto Sun lassooed Les back to T.O. in September of 1984 as executive editor. In the next 19 years, he hop-scotched from T.O. back to the Calgary Sun as general manager and then publisher (1994-1999); back to Toronto briefly then on to the London Free Press as publisher (2000-2001) and back to Toronto in 2001 for a third time as publisher. In December 2002, Lester Clifford Pyette left the building for the final time, capping 29 years of Sun magic. He later accepted a post at the National Post but the Post was no Sun, so he retired once again. When you talk about the success of the Sun in the glory years, be sure Les Pyette's name is mentioned in your first breath, not on Page 95. A media legend in his own time.

Hartley Steward
1974 - 2006 (on and off)

Hartley Steward was a Ryerson grad and former Tely news and sports staffer working as a freelance writer when friend Doug Creighton called him in the spring of 1974. Hartley, 33, had turned down Doug's job offer when the Sun was launched in 1971, saying he enjoyed writing freelance features for Maclean's, Toronto Life and other publications from his country retreat. But he said yes to Doug's second offer - as news director and a helping hand for
ailing Phil Sykes, editor of the Sunday Sun. From the start, Hartley felt comfortable as news editor and working with Phil. Weeks after Phil died of liver cancer on July 20, 1974, Hartley was appointed Sunday Sun editor. One of his first moves was to add Paul Rimstead, the Sun's popular daily columnist, to the Sunday paper, something Phil refused to do from the start. Hartley's first departure from the Sun came in late 1976 when he resigned over the appointment of Doug MacFarlane as editorial director. He holed up in the country again writing freelance features until the Toronto Star lured him back to Toronto in 1977 as editor of its new glossy City magazine. Hartley was the Star's managing editor in 1980 when he decided to return to the "fun" Sun to help launch the Calgary Sun as publisher. Then it was off to London, England, for 18 months as the Sun's first European bureau chief; home to Toronto to oversee taking the Financial Post daily; off to Ottawa for the Oct. 7, 1988, launch of the Ottawa Sun as publisher; back to Toronto as publisher and CEO in the 1990's and later as a columnist. Hartley had talent - and heart, which was a common denominator among staff during the true Sun Family years. He was a mentor to many young journalists at the Sun and the Star over three decades. Hartley's final Sun column appeared on Father's Day, 2006. The quiet, award-winning Sun legend was a major player in the early Sunday Sun and for the startups of the Calgary Sun, Ottawa Sun, the daily Financial Post and the Sun's European bureau, but no mention was made of Hartley's departure in his final column or elsewhere in the Sun. Veteran Sun columnist Mark Bonokoski gave Hartley the proper sendoff he was due in his July 7, 2006 column.

Gord Stimmell
1974 - 1999

Hey, this is Gord Stimmell. I spent 25 years as a slotman, Showcase editor, TV magazine editor and wine columnist for the Sun and its family of newspapers. The day I was walked out the door in 1999, I became Managing Editor for Wine Access magazine. After a couple of years in Freelanceland, I rejoined by old buds at the Toronto Star, at first as an editor on the Universal Desk and various departments, then took the helm of Starweek, Canada's largest (surviving) TV magazine. Oh, and I still taste 9,000 bottles of wine a year, but now as the Star's wine critic.

John Cosway
Jan. 25, 1975 - Dec. 31, 2003
It took several visits to the old Eclipse Building to pin down Les Pyette for a job interview in December of 1974. I had returned to hometown Toronto that summer after working for newspapers in B.C. for six years and this underdog tabloid being produced in a factory setting beckoned. Sat down with Pyette and Hartley Steward and showed them clippings from five years at the Richmond Review, a B.C. weekly Mickey "The Tattler" Carlton had turned into a popular broadsheet tabloid. Pyette and Steward seemed impressed, but I think what got me the job was the money. They asked about wages. Told them I always asked for more money than my previous job. At the Review, it was $216 a week. "How about $217 a week?" After a few days on the police desk with Tony Cote, Connie Nicholson said she heard I came cheaply. "Yes, but I am here," I replied. Most appreciated was the opportunity to work in the Eclipse Building for several months before the move to 333 King Street East. It was a measure of the direction the Sun was heading - up. What a ride it was for 19 years. Police desk, court bureau, general reporting (and yes, loved doing You Said It for five years), the video and lottery columns, working the rewrite desk etc. Helped dethrone a president (of the OLC) with John Schmied with our lottery ticket x-ray expose in 1988. Heck, even co-authored the Winners, Losers and Other Stuff book and talked video on CHUM. During the 1970's and 1980's, it was a journalist's dream to be working in a newsroom where just about everyone was laid back and friendly, but professional. Got the job done. We didn't need a union. The three wise men - Doug, Peter and Don - took care of their own. Never had to ask for a raise in 19 years, enjoyed the benefits of stock offers, profit sharing, a two-month sabbatical etc. But all good things . . . Doug Creighton's ouster in November 1992 killed the spirit of the Sun as much as the ITU strike at the Globe and Mail in 1964 shattered that paper's harmony. The newsroom nonsense after Doug's departure took the fun out of the Sun. I took the first buyout offer in the winter of 1993 and ventured into freelance writing (Law Times, Public Eye, TV Extra, The Wayback Times) and a lot of live auctions and eBay. Also launched a web site in 1996 with Jim Yates that didn't fly. My heart is still with the Sun of old and dream of the day when it will free itself from the shackles of Quebecor. More on the Sun etc. on my Media Memories blog.

Dan Proudfoot
1975 - 2001
Dan Proudfoot was hired in 1975 by Kathy Brooks as a feature writer for Showcase Magazine, then a general interest section with a strong Toronto focus. He retired in 2001 after many years of heading the paper's auto reviews and covering car racing in the sports section. Dan now contributes to The Globe and Mail's GlobeAuto, and Carguide, a Canadian magazine, and Bimmer, Forza, Excellence, enthusiast magazines published in California.

Rita Demontis
1976 -

Rita Demontis recently celebrated 30 years at the Sun in various capacities. She joined the Lifestyle department in 1986 and has been Lifestyle and Food editor for years. The busy Sun staffer is on CFRB radio every weekend, has a cooking show and is often seen on TV. Just recently, Rita was honoured in a special book based on 32 of the most influential Canadian women of Italian origin in Canada. She says her claim to fame is - feeding people. "I believe in drive-by stuffing," says Rita. "This will probably be chiseled on my tombstone: "She was a good, loyal friend who loved sharing the calories." After 15 years of marriage, hubby Mario Ruffolo, an urban planner, probably agrees.

Sean McCann
1977 - 2002
Rejected by Carleton's School of Journalism in 1975 after getting my BA., I returned home to T.O. , where J.D. MacFarlane was running Ryerson's journalism program. He accepted me immediately, although not for that year. I went to Ryerson in 1976 and after the first year, the brilliant Les Pyette gave me a summer job with the Toronto Sun. Les told me later, at the end of the summer, he would have hired me full-time but the beautiful Jan Lounder had the inside track. Nevertheless, Les gave me freelance work all through the year and hired me back as a summer student in 1977. When the summer of ’77 came to a close, he hired me on full time. So in 1977, I began a 26-year relationship with the Sun. I was hired as a general assignment reporter and like every GA at the Sun in those days, I got a brilliant and terrific introduction to real journalism under the Pyette city desk tutelage. Backed up, I might add, by the one and only Jim Yates, who was his assistant. Anyway, it was to be one of the finer times of my life. One thing about Les, he would send you anywhere. Some memorable assignments I had were Three Mile Island, the New Year's fire in Quebec, a week on Trudeau's campaign plane (Clair Hoy had fallen out with Pyette over overtime), the fire in Cincinnati. I can't remember the club now, but John Denver was lucky to escape. I think 140 died in the fire. And as an aside, the affable Jerry Gladman was acting city editor on that Sunday and he had to take up a collection in the office to get me on the plane. I spent three days in and around Cincinnati and Kentucky, getting by on my press card and wearing the clothes I arrived with. But as I say, as a GA you got to do everything. I worked the cop desk, the legislature, city hall etc. Les sent me to city hall during the John Sewell years and I never had so many line stories. No question, I have a lot to thank Les for as far as journalism goes. In addition, I must remember Jerry Gladman, John Cosway, Jim Thomson, Cam Norton, Bob Burt, Ted Welch, Len Fortune, and the deskers, Sandra Macklin, Howard McGregor, Paul Heming, Mike Burke-Gaffney and yes, even David Bailey. They all helped me in my career. Not to mention, Norm Betts, Dave Cooper, and many others. Hey, I was just an ignorant Irish Mick in T.O. and they showed me the way. None better than Les Pyette. Anyway, tiring of reporting, I became an assistant city editor under, yep you guessed it, the one and only Bob Vezina. (Pyette and Peter O' Sullivan were battling it out by then over who should be senior managing editor. Les won, of course.) I loved Vez, though he could scuther you in a flash. Haven't come across a better writer yet. Hovering over all these characters was Ed "fire the bastard" Monteith, who really wasn't that bad and had great news instincts. As assistant city editor, I served under Vezina, Lloyd Kemp and John Paton. Then life, for me, took a downward spiral. I got Jim Thomson's old job as foreign editor (read wire), but it wasn't enough. Bob Poole and Mike Strobel soft-talked me in the Sun cafeteria and it was off to the Calgary Sun in 1989, where I served as city editor for six years, then on to Sunday editor and finally to managing editor. In 2002, the writing was on the wall. Either I was getting older, or Quebecor was, as I suspected, out to scuttle the ingenuity of the Sun. I asked for a buy out and got it. I am now editor of the Red Deer Express, and if any of you care to have a look at, you may even see a hint of the old Toronto Sun. Slainte, Sean

Sandy Naiman
1977 - 2007
"I started at the Sun as a freelancer in entertainment. Kathy Brooks hired me, with George Anthony's blessing, on a recommendation by (Ryerson's) J.D. MacFarlane, who knew I had a serious mental illness, but the Sun decided to give me a chance. I was approached and invited to apply for that freelance entertainment job as at the time, I was editing the Royal Alexandra's Centre Stage magazine, published by Ed Mirvish. When Mirvish heard I had a freelance assignment with the Sun to review Tom Jones at the O'Keefe, he gave me an ultimatum: "Them," as in the Toronto Sun," or me, "As in Ed Mirvish, et al." He saw it as a conflict of interest. The Sun was paying $25 for the review. Mirvish was paying $100 a week, with no benefits for the editing job. I took the Sun. My dad wanted to disown me, but I saw it as an opportunity. My first Sun appearance was my Tom Jones review, which ran on June 24, 1977. Then I started hanging out around Ms. Brooks, who was editing both Entertainment and Lifestyle, and George Anthony, writing all kinds of other entertainment stuff. That's how I got The Exhibitionists column, which ran daily. I interviewed Bill Cosby, Helen Reddy, Neil Sedaka, Burton Cummings and all kinds of stars at the CNE Grandstand that summer. I also submitted a Lifestyle proposal for a series of six profiles of older, ethnic women who could reflect and tell their stories about coming to and growing up in Toronto. That ran, too. I was hired officially into the Lifestyle section on September 6, 1977, as a feature writer, with David Kendall, who taught me how to 'punch up' my copy. (Sandy took a buyout to save the job of another staffer due to cutbacks and made her exit in January, 2007.)"

John Paton
1977 - 2000
"I started as a copy boy at the Toronto Sun in 1977 - when it was only one block long and three floors tall. And I had hair. On my first day on the job, the first person I met was Mark Bonokoski and Les Pyette was the second. I decided to stay anyway. You had to know Bono and Lester in the 70s to know what I mean. I am proud after all of these years to still call them friends.
I was part of the 70s intake that included Heather Bird, Peter Howell, Ian Harvey, Jean Sonmor and the great Lorrie Goldstein. In 1978 or so, I was promoted to "overnight editor," which meant I worked overnight and manned the police radios, calling out the real reporters like Cal Millar and John Schenk, or photogs like Bill Sandford, Norm Betts, Huggy Bear Wesley, Jac Holland and Michael Peake to cover breaking news. I tried every night to write something to get into the paper and it only usually made it if it went through the ministering hands of a Ted Welch, or a Kevin Scanlon, or a John Cosway first. I had my early run-ins with the legendary J.D. MacFarlane, whose first words to me on my first night on the job was: 'You would never have been allowed to grow that beard on Tely time.' I eventually made it dayside onto the reporters' roster and worked with great city editors like Bob Burt, Lloyd Kemp and the inestimable Bob Vezina. Somehow, I ended up city editor, which is the best job I have ever had, before or since. Working alongside Gordie Walsh, Sean McCann and Jeanie MacFarlane were easily my happiest working days. Our paper topped 305,000 circulation (I still have the commemorative clock), we routinely kicked the Star's ass and J. Douglas Creighton was a constant visitor to our desk just to see how things were going. Doug would always made us feel great and then Ed Monteith would come around and scare the crap out of us. One election night in the 80s, when I was responsible for getting the paper out and we were very late, Ed sauntered out of his office, an ugly green Reas cigar in his mouth, and yelled: 'Paton! Didja happen to notice exactly what fucking time it was when you lost control tonight?' Ouch. It was an effective Mutt and Jeff act and we learned a lot. I was then bumped to assistant managing editor and in 1988, Creighton asked me to move to Ottawa as editor in chief to start the Ottawa Sun. There, I worked with Hartley Steward who, hands down, is the finest newspaperman Canada has ever seen. Tutelage under Hartley, combined with sage advice from Creighton, was the best school in newspapering anyone could ever ask for. The trio of Birdy, Rick Van Sickle and Rob Paynter drove that little paper to a bunch of NNA nominations and wins. And all of it promoted relentlessly by a young Don Creighton, who is a chip off the old block if there ever was one. If you haven't been at a Sun start-up, there is no describing it. All blood, sweat, tears and joy. I was eventually made publisher of the Ottawa Sun, then publisher of the London Free Press and finally, a vice-president of Sun Media. I was part of the management group that bought Sun Media before selling to Quebecor in 1999. I was then CEO of before moving on to essentially become a banker specializing in mergers and acquisitions. I am currently chairman and CEO of ImpreMedia based in New York, which is an acquisition I advised on and am an investor in. It is the largest Spanish-language newspaper and online company in the U.S. We have about 600 employees and have papers from New York to Los Angeles. It feels a lot like the Sun in the 70s and 80s. I have two beautiful daughters - Alexis, 22, and Hannah, 16. I have lived in New York for the last four years and divide my time between there and a 16th Century farm in France I have been restoring for about five years. Like everyone else on this site, I miss the old days and the folks at the Sun, particularly J. Douglas. I am proud to say I am godfather to his youngest grandchild - Mark Creighton, who has an unruly mop of red hair and a great sense of mischief. It is clearly a genetic thing."

John Schenk
1977 - 1981

"Worked the police desk with Cal Millar from 1977 to 1981. Lots of fast breaking news stories and a few features on bike gangs as the low end of organized crime. Left the Sun to hitchhike around the world - and one life-changing experience. Joined a humanitarian organization, World Vision. Now, 70 countries later, I am still grateful for those days at the Sun. What better way to train for the rigors of Lebanon, Rwanda and Somalia than chasing fires and shootouts and dodging the Satan's Choice!
Just celebrated 20 years with World Vision covering the one-year anniversary of the 7.6 magnitude Pakistan earthquake. Only now can I see doing those awful pick ups (do they still call it that, getting the departed's picture and a story from a victim's family?) was actually part of my training for telling compelling stories of people struggling with, and overcoming, everything from grinding poverty to monstrous genocide. The next stop for me is hopefully a masters program in something called inter-cultural studies with a concentration on radical Islam. Have been prepping for that by working in Eastern Europe and the Middle East for the last two years. I was so close, yet so far, from the Sun reunion. Have been helping my father through some health issues down here in Waterloo. Sadly, I must go to the States for meetings and will miss the reunion. The very best to everyone. Special thanks to colleagues at the Sun who have published seven columns from Pakistan, five during the quake response and two on the anniversary, which has helped much to get out another perspective on this devastating disaster."

Bob Carroll
1978 - 1990
Bob Carroll’s newspaper career profile includes the abbreviations UPI, UPC, CP and VIP. The latter abbreviation is an addendum from appreciative photographers fortunate enough to have learned from Bob’s expertise along the way and at the Windsor Star, where he has hung his hat for seven years as photo editor. A lot of people are better people for having known Bob Carroll, beginning in the 1960’s when hired by the Montreal Star as a wire photo technician/sometimes photographer. His photo career blossomed at United Press International (UPI), first as a sports freelancer and then full time when UPI’s photographer “took off with the photo gear and was never heard from again.” A fellow staffer at UPI in Montreal was Bob McConachie. (Their paths would cross again a decade later at the Sun.) Bob also worked for UPI in Toronto and Ottawa before accepting a one-year Expo 67 photo contract job at the Montreal Gazette. In 1968, it was back to UPI for stints in Ottawa, Raleigh, N.C., Atlanta and Hong Kong, finishing his UPI foreign correspondent stint covering the final days of the Cambodia and Vietnam wars. In 1978, he left UPI and entered the Toronto Sun building for the first time to launch and head United Press Canada (UPC), a joint wire service venture with the Sun. UPC, the Sun’s way of avoiding costly Canadian Press membership fees, worked so well CP bought and absorbed it in 1985. Bob’s bond with the Sun continued as assistant managing editor of photos and later, in Canada Wide. In December of 1990, Bob was offered the job of a lifetime – VP and GM for UPI world wide, based in Washington, D.C. He accepted, but before flying off to Washington, he suffered a massive heart attack that landed him at death’s door in Scarborough General Hospital. Bob credits renowned heart surgeon Dr. Michael Bentley Taylor for saving his life. “If not for Dr. Taylor, I’d surely have died at 47,” says Bob. “Even he thought I’d not make it through the night.” Bob says the Sun Family “stood by me through this, making sure my family was well and assuring them they would do all they could. Publisher Jim Tighe and his people were just great.” Bob not only survived, two weeks later he was looking for his plane tickets to Washington. Bob says a concerned Sun had offered him his job back, but he politely declined. He wanted to tackle that dream job in Washington because “wire service was my first love.” Bob said D.C. was fine and UPI was too, for about a year. Encountering financial trouble, "like the Sun today, UPI dismissed people on Thursday every week to meet money needs. It was just a matter of time before your name or salary came up. Eventually, everybody was gone and the company was sold once again." Bob returned to Toronto in 1992 as national picture editor with Canadian Press, but “being a UPI/UPC person, I just didn't get along well at CP." So he freelanced on the Sun photo desk and photographed events for Reuters. “I was International Olympics pool photo editor for Reuters at the Atlanta, Australia and Athens summer games." In 1999, out of the blue, Jim McCormack , a former Sun finance person and now publisher of the Windsor Star, called him. "His photo editor was leaving and he asked if I'd like the job. I took it and have been here going on seven years. At the Star, I have been able to train some great young (students) and send them out to papers like the National Post, Calgary Herald, Toronto Star . . . I take in a student each year for about 13 weeks in the summer. After that, they are usually ready for the big step to full time employment. It is a great feeling to see a young person you have helped get a secure job in this business today." Bob notes that since the “Big One” in 1990, he has quit smoking, doesn’t drink much and tries to keep away from stress.

Ian Harvey
Jan. 1, 1979 - Aug. 22, 2001
Ian Harvey was 23 when he joined the Toronto Sun on Jan 1 1979 following stints at the Scarborough Mirror and Peterborough Examiner. Over the ensuing 21 years, he was a GA reporter-photog, police reporter, columnist and editor. He left in May 2000 to join Canoe as director of web operations for and was laid off Aug 22, 2001 when Quebecor pulled the plug on sites. In November of 2001, ex-Sunner Dave Blizzard hooked him up with the Air Miles reward program to relaunch their website and he subsequently managed their magazine, copy writing and translation departments. Discovering he hated life on a cube farm, he quit in Feburary 2004, attended the Canadian Film Centre's New Media program and learned how to wear a beret with aplomb. Since Sept. 2004 he has built a successful freelance business, writing for Reader's Digest, the Globe and Mail, the Toronto Star and other magazines, trade and niche publications. For more check out my website at

Richard MacFarlane
1979 - 1980
When Richard MacFarlane walked into the Toronto Sun in the summer of 1979 to begin working in the library, the office of his father, the legendary Doug MacFarlane, was at the opposite end of the newsroom. The relationship wasn't immediately noted in JDM's Assessment Notice because JDM was in hospital recovering from a heart attack. (Richard's arrival was mentioned on JDM's return in November.) Richard, who had no idea in 1979 that he would research and write a 365-page book on his father two decades later, wasn't the first son or daughter of a staff member and wouldn't be the last. Nepotism at the Sun, a blog posting in itself, often meant second-generation talent. Richard remembers working with fellow-librarian Elizabeth McGibbon (related to John Downing) when he started, and Shirley Goodhand, a veteran librarian from Tely days. Richard remembers how Sandy Naiman helped him write and frame Shirley's custom front page when she retired in September 1980. Says Richard: "I felt I drafted what I thought, initially, to be a reasonable facsimile of 'Sun style,' because we wanted it to resemble a real front page news story. Well, Sandy woke me up. Believe me! In a wonderful way, too. I redesigned it to have the Telegram banner on the bottom, with the exact day Shirley arrived at the old Tely, complete with the old Empire flag, and then at the top, the Sun banner, with the day she was leaving, all framed under glass. I thought it was quite creative. I recall showing it to my father who said, 'Well, it's what I expected of you. Glad you took care of it, Richard,' in that JDM way. I know Shirley really appreciated it." Richard worked the 4 p.m. to 11 p.m. shift, and later if necessary when major news stories broke. Says Richard: "It really was a wonderful experience to see the newsroom in action, to actually see my father in action, walking around and speaking to everyone possible, to see all the colour and drama of a news day, and how the paper was assembled. The pace, the action, the quick decisions. People outside don't really realize what it takes, hour after hour, day after day. It was a lot of fun and it lead me up the path of doing records and documents and, lo and behold, I am now in the field of records management at the City of Toronto. And that is a whole story in itself." Richard has a collection of JDM's Assessment Notices, including: "ASSESSMENT NOTICE October 28, 1980 Keeping track: Richard MacFarlane (a relation) has filed his last picture in our library. He's joined the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources as Public Participation Officer working out of Kenora. B-r-r-r. JDM."

Wanda Goodwin
1979 - 1999
I started out in the Sun's circulation department in 1979 and migrated to the photo department as a photographer and photo editor. I worked on special projects for the Sun Syndicate, including a book I co-authored with Len Fortune – 25 Years of Being There. This was the culmination of a five-year project, which began with a photo exhibit at the ROM on the Sun's 20th Anniversary. The exhibit then travelled to the Canadian Embassy in Washington. I was walked out the door in March of 1999 – but just before I left, I made a phone call from my desk to the Toronto Star's Erin Combs and the rest is history. I have been happily employed by the Star as a Picture Editor since June 1999.

Scott Morrison
1979 - 2001
Scott Morrison, born and raised in Toronto, made his Sun sports department entrance in 1979 as a hockey writer. It was the start of a beautiful 22-year friendship, with readers, boss
George Gross and management. The good-natured hockey writer and columnist was promoted to Sports Editor in 1991. Eight years later, the Sun's sport section was named one of North America's Top 10. It was Canada's first sports section so honoured by the AP Sports Editors North American Award. Scott and the Sun parted company in 2001, ending a 22-year run. He moved on to Rogers Sportsnet as Managing Editor - Hockey, and is now a Hockey Night in Canada commenator and hockey writer. Scott, former two-term president of the Professional Hockey Writers' Association, is also a 2006 recipient of the Hockey Hall of Fame's 2006 Elmer Ferguson Memorial Award. He has come a long way from his senior class PA sports announcements at Scarborough's Winston Churchill Collegiate.

Kevin Scanlon
Kevin Scanlon, born in Ireland and raised in Toronto, got his start in newspapers in 1968 as a Globe and Mail copy boy. He paid his dues working as a cub reporter at several small weeklies and dailies in Ontario before the Toronto Sun caught his eye in 1973. Hired as a reporter-photographer, the upstart tabloid immediately felt like home for the self-starter. His claim to fame as an in-house rebel evolved from his participation in the AAN - the Alternate Assessment Notice. The AAN was posted anonymously in answer to newsroom critiques in the official Assessment Notice bulletin board postings by J. Douglas MacFarlane, the Sun's meticulous newsroom watchdog. The culprits, Kevin, Jerry Gladman and Mark Bonokoski, didn't stay anonymous for long, but JDM took it on the chin like a gentleman. Kevin left his mark at the Sun in the 1970s with well-researched features and spot news stories. In 1979, he moved to the Toronto Star as city reporter and features writer. The urge to move hit the wandering Irishman again in 1986 when hired by Maclean's as an associate editor. He freelanced from 1988 to 1990, became a copy editor at the Financial Post in 1990 and in 1994, he returned to the Sun Family, moving west to work for the Edmonton Sun. But T.O. drew him back into Canada's most competitive newspaper market in 1999, joining the Toronto Star. He has been a Star copy editor, features editor and beats editor. He is now a senior copy editor.

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