Wednesday 31 October 2007

Day 1: Chris Blizzard

Memories of Day Oners, a unique group of 62 unemployed men and women from the defunct Toronto Telegram who spent Halloween of 1971 putting out that first 48-page Toronto Sun.

They succeeded despite Tely Wake hangovers, occasional blackouts and primitive working conditions in converted Eclipse Building factory space at 322 King Street West.

Christina Blizzard (nee Smales), secretary (and future columnist):

"It's all a bit of a blur, but I remember Doug Creighton asking me if I'd "help out" for a few days. So I showed up the first morning at the fourth floor of the old Eclipse Whitewear Building. Everything was hopping.

You may remember Margaret K and Jean Osborne - those wonderful switchboard operators. They were going crazy trying to keep up with an old plug-in type switchboard. We were so swamped with calls that they just went straight through to extensions.

The back wall of the building had a big hole in it, so we were all frozen. The place was incredibly dirty - but we didn't notice, because we didn't have time.

People kept showing up at the door. There were flowers and cookies and cakes from people who really appreciated having a new newspaper.

Perhaps the greatest thing about the new Sun was its democratizing effect. Creighton and Peter Worthington shared a tiny office. Everyone did whatever needed to be done. If Worthington had to take a call from a reader looking for a Sun box, he did it. We had the most amazingly great collection of writers, deskers, circulation people, you name it, and they all just pitched in.

At one point, Creighton commented that the place "looked like Turner and Porter" because his office was full of flowers and Worthington was looking a bit gaunt from working so hard. He kept an old sweater in his office and lent it to anyone who was cold.

In short, it was chaotic. Yet we had all these amazingly talented people. Imagine how difficult it was for them (Creighton and Worthington) to bring order from that chaos and put out a newspaper. And a great paper, at that.

The first few days were mostly problem solving. How do you take a newspaper and cram it into 62 people and one floor of an office building? Everyone just did what needed to be done. We all had a single purpose - getting the paper off the floor. In short, it was hectic and challenging and rewarding - and one of the most fun adventures I've ever had."

Thanks for the memories, Christina.

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