Saturday 10 December 2011

Open Forum 2

Keep in the loop by posting comments here on any Sun Media subject: layoffs, retirements, deaths, cutbacks, your memories, union settlements/strikes etc. 

Comments will be moderated and posted, but they won't be edited so do try to be tidy in your typing.

Open Forum 1

Monday 28 November 2011

Layoff forum

Comments re Nov. 28, 2011 Sun Media layoffs:

Tuesday 22 November 2011

Year 20 - 1991

A 20th anniversary video:

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Friday 18 November 2011

Year 10 - 1981

The Toronto Sun's 10th anniversary video, 1981:

Monday 14 November 2011

Doug & Family

Long lost video of Doug Creighton's 64th birthday party in the Eclipse White Wear Building, where the Toronto Sun was born on Nov.. 1, 1971, brings us back to TSF

The November 27, 1992, birthday video was shot by Sun copy editor Phil Johnson. If any newcomers wondered about the "family" in Toronto Sun Family, the video is Exhibit A.

The five-part video, uploaded to YouTube and also posted in the new Toronto Sun Family Facebook group:  

Wednesday 2 November 2011

Open Forum

Keep in the loop by posting comments here on any Sun Media subject: layoffs, retirements, deaths, cutbacks, your memories, union settlements/strikes etc. 

We'd also encourage you to leave comments about personal and corporate websites that might be of interest  to Sun Media employees. 

Comments will be moderated and posted, but they won't be edited so do try to be tidy in your typing.

30 - TSF

Five years ago, about 150 current and former Toronto Sun employees gathered for a reunion at a downtown hotel and the lapel stickers read Save Our Sun.

It had been seven years since Quebecor purchased Sun Media, lock, stock and barrel and the ongoing slashing of employees and benefits was worrisome.

During several hours of reminiscing and conversations about the state of the Sun, several former employees agreed a blog for and about Sun employees might boost morale.

The Toronto Sun was not just another newspaper when it came to pre-Quebecor years and the unique work environment and strong "family" ties warranted expanded reflections.

Ian Harvey got the ball rolling within the week, setting up a MySpace blog, writing a posting and the meaningful "We are the soul of a newspaper. Not just any newspaper." blurb.

But within days, we had used up our allotment of 16 photos. That wouldn't do, so I moved the blog to blogspot, with unlimited resources and an easy-to-use interface.

Ian and a couple of other blog volunteers soon bowed out due to work demands, so this semi-retired guy with lots of time for a newspaper that gave me 19 good years, got to work on the Toronto Sun Family project.

The first post on blogspot, on Dec. 8, 2006, was about the Toronto Sun's Day Oner's club.

It was a slow start, with maybe 25 to 50 hits per day, mostly accidental visitors looking for Toronto Sun content, but early posts about Sun pioneers living and dead drew more visitors weekly.

And then Quebecor's devastating layoffs across the chain resumed.

While the blog was to be a soapbox strictly for Toronto Sun employees past and present, it became a venue for all Sun Media employees.
Comments and tips from across the chain propelled the daily hits to an average of 250 per day, then 500, 600, with the largest single-day count being 2,000 the day after columnist Eric Margolis was turfed in the Ottawa purge.

In recent months, the blog has been averaging 500 to 600 per day and the count has been increasing in the past few weeks due to your Sun memories submissions.

(Website stats as of early today: 768,345 visits; average of 495 per day; 1,462,145 page views. We've always wondered who our American and European regulars were and what, if any, ties they had to Sun Media.) 

The memories from people who worked on all floors of the Eclipse and 333 have been heart-felt and often emotional reads. We should have requested them throughout our five-year run.

Sharing those memories on TSF tells Quebecor it doesn't get what we had on all six floors of the bustling Sun and it never will. And we'll always have SkyDome.

So enjoy the Sun memories that can be found in five years of postings. We'll leave the light on. 

But before we go, have to say thank you to the numerous TSF tipsters across the Sun Media chain, anonymous and signed, who turned this sleepy blog into a steamroller. Your numbers declined with layoffs, retirements and fear of Quebecor's wrath.

But without your input, we would have never known about internal decisions that affected the quality of the print product and the morale. You put names to the hundreds of layoff victims who would otherwise have remained a statistic without a face.

While we empathized with Sun Media employees wanting to remain anonymous, considering the bullying tactics of Quebecor, numerous former employees posting anonymously never made sense.

Refreshing were numerous employees and former employees who provided their names, including Rob Lamberti, Jim Slotek, Wayne Janes, John Iaboni, John Downing, Bill Sandford, Les Pyette, Sean McCann,  etc.

That is freedom of expression, something Sun Media preaches in print and on Sun News, but doesn't extend to its employees. 

As for the hundreds of anonymous comments containing cheap shots aimed at individuals in Sun Media and TSF over the years, your mention is where it belongs, just before the 30.

40 years, one word

Of all the words spoken at 40th anniversary parties last night, Hartley Steward summed up the feelings of most in saying the Toronto Sun years with Doug Creighton at the helm were "magical."

He spoke briefly during the reunion of former employees on the 38th floor of the Westin Harbour Castle Hilton, as did Andy Donato and John Downing, two Day Oners in the gathering of about 80.

MC Tom McMillan kept guest speakers to two minutes, but allowed Wayne Parrish extra time, Paul Godfrey, arriving late, also spoke, as did Trudy Eagan.

Doug, whose sons Scott and Bruce were at the party, was mentioned by every speaker and as parties go, it was Doug's cup of tea: pricey martinis and a grand view of Toronto that makes you forget the tab.

Gatherings of former Toronto Sun employees for parties and funerals have always impressed me for their true family spirit. Men and women who worked together for years, but dispatched to other jobs for various reasons, reuniting for heart-felt hugs, kisses and conversation.

The tab for the Westin party was $40, but I would have paid $40 just to mingle with Les Pyette, Andy Donato (he's current, but his wife is former), John Downing, Joe Duffy, Hugh Wesley, Sam Pazzano (his wife is a former, he is current), Pat Surphlis, Lou Clancy, Nancy Stewart, Linda Leatherdale, John Iaboni, Trudy Eagan, Hartley Steward et al. 

And, of course, the ever-delightful Roxann and those advertising people.

Kudos to Bev Bester for organizing the reunion and special guest receptionist Valerie Gibson for greeting everyone at the door with that sexy Gibson flare.

Next stop down memory lane, Tim Fryer and Woody McGee's popular 40th party at Betty's where the dress was casual and the Rim Pigs Ball chatter was electric. More faces from the Westin showed up, along with a few from the employee's party at Pier 4.

Most people agreed three parties was an abomination of the spirit of the Toronto Sun, denying everyone the opportunity to celebrate a milestone with the entire family.  

Betty's was packed and the first face I saw was Bob McConachie, my pool-playing buddy and former ace metro editor. Post-buyout life has been good to Bob. He has shaved 10 years since leaving the Sun and giving up the smokes.

Bill Brioux dropped by as did Jim Slotek, Bruce Kirkland, Rachael Sa, Linda Barnard (got my annual kiss from the now darling of the Star), Sandra Macklin (got my annual hug from the former ace news editor), Lew Fournier, Calvin Reynolds, Joe Warmington, Stan Behal, Michael Peake, David Henderson, Michael Burke-Gaffney, Peter Brewster, BJ Del Conte, Tim McKenna, Don Tsukada, John Schmied, Melisa Clarke and many others.

Not much news out of the Pier 4 party, which we didn't crash.

Doug's troops may be scattered, but they assemble for Sun events without hesitation.

A lot of the Sun troops will gather again this Friday, Nov. 5, at the Opera House for another fundraising Newzapaloooza media rock concert competition.

The lineup:

  • The Back Issues - Maclean's
  • The Deadlines - Toronto Star
  • The Everywhere - CityTV
  • Mental Circuit - Reuters
  • The Snipes - The Globe & Mail
  • The Screaming Headlines - Toronto Sun
  • Stimulus Package - The Canadian Press & The Globe & Mail

Proceeds to the The Children's Aid Foundation.

Tuesday 1 November 2011

BJ Del Conte

Memories of the Toronto Sun - BJ Del Conte
I'm a Sun Day Oner.

Obviously, not as an employee - but as a reader. My mother would bring home British tabs from her co-workers, which I would voraciously consume, so this Toronto Star delivery boy was no stranger to a new, local and weird sized paper with screaming headlines and a snappy style of writing.

I saved the first Sun, but it's lost to history. I still have the first Sunday Sun.

In year two of the Sun's existence it created hockey cards - way bigger than standard issue. You cut a coupon out of the paper and redeemed it for hockey cards at the store where you got the paper.

I heard you could trade the cards down at the Eclipse White Wear building - near Farb's car wash and the King's Plate Open Kitchen (places I had read about in the paper) - so I went down on a couple of Saturday afternoons. 

Saw the staff banging away on steam-driven Underwoods and using orange crates as chairs and thought, "this doesn't look like the newsrooms I've seen in the movies".

(In my trading, I scored a beauty for free because the other person had never heard of "Robert Marvin Hull". Sucker.)

I really liked the paper and wanted to work there. Only took 14 years to make that happen.

It started with me working at the Winnipeg Sun (when it was owned by Quebecor and Toronto wasn't) and selling local stories to the Toronto Sun. They paid me and ran longer versions of the stories than Winnipeg did. (
Burton Cummings bopped by a beer bottle in a brawl at a Winnipeg 7-11 at 3 a.m. comes to mind).

When I would come to Toronto for a visit, I'd hang out in the Sun newsroom. One time I was treated to the awesome spectacle of Les (Pyette) jumping up and down on a newsroom desk shrieking hysterically because the Star got a scoop on the dead babies story at Sick Kids in its noon edition.

If memory serves, the Star used a screaming Sun style hed in 400 point type: "Babies Were Murdered". So much for the Star's sniffing dismissal of the Sun as a "trash tabloid".

I'm a Sun Day Oner in another respect: I may be the first and only person to get Godfly - the consummate politician and exemplar of self control - to absolutely lose it.

Mr. G and I weren't on the best of terms to begin with. Not long before I left in early '89, I was one of the people who was talking about bringing in a union. I called the Canadian Auto Workers. They relished the idea of organizing the anti-union Sun. Management found out, a meeting with Paul was held, commitments were made, co-conspirators were bought off and I left the paper.

Flash forward to '96 or '97. I was at Bloomberg Business News and covered the Sun's first-ever round of layoffs. At the press conference in the upstairs board room, I asked Godfrey why he fired people when he just spent $250K on an anniversary party a few days earlier. 

He totally lost it when I said "Fun party by the way". Trudy Eagan was so enraged she started to climb across the table to get at me and Godfrey pushed her back in the chair. He was literally spitting mad. It was all captured by the cameras and it looked great on the evening news.

I don't really recognize the Sun these days. Tiny stories that are basically rewritten press releases, fluffer nutters that I can't imagine anyone would care about, the tedious one trick pony/feather light attacks on the CBC and the mindless adoration/critique-free bum licking of Ford and Harper.

It was fun back in the day to kick the firepower heavy Star's ass. Doubt we'll see that sort of thing again.

I worked for pkp's father and I'm here to tell you: the apple fell very far from that family tree.

In my time at the Sun, I got to cover the Aryan Nations world summit in Idaho; looked for Elvis in Kalamazoo, MI, and covered the 10th anniversary of his death in Memphis; and chased
Ben Johnson's $250K Ferrari Testarossa with my $250 Chevy Citation. 

The Johnson story was published in a bogus edition of the Sun that was put in boxes around the Star and delivered to the newsroom to hide the fact the Sun had an exclusive interview with Johnson.

Also covered a bunch of crap that Godfly or his wife wanted in the paper.

I met a ton of lifelong friends, downed many a pint and wings at Crook's (especially on payday Thursday) and got paid to do stories I would've done for free.

BJ Del Conte

Gail Zangen

Memories of the Toronto Sun - Gail Zangen 

Thanks to Wayne Janes for posting a comment on Facebook about this blog. I spent the morning reading the posts and catching up with the Sun Family. It all brings back many memories.

It is true that many of the back office staff are missing in the comments. I hope they are aware of the blog too. Spreading the word is so much easier today, but so much time has passed in between when it wasn't as easy.

I worked at the Sun from March 1972 to June 1979 supervising the business data processing and operations.

I have many fond memories of the Sun. It is at the top of the list best jobs ever! The sense of family was felt throughout.

Working directly with Nancy, Vivian and Valerie, we started the Data Processing Department within accounting. We had the challenges of automating the advertising billing, circulation delivery and accounting systems.

Time has made it hard to remember everyone. But conversations with Buddy - 'Buy Gold' and make chicken soup - are still with me. And thanks Buddy, I did buy some gold. Also, Art, Tom, Bruce, Bob, Peggy and many more were in the accounting department at the time.

Working with Maggie Fowler was amazing. She introduced me to a whole new world with her vast knowledge of the offset production systems.

Trudy's breaking the glass ceiling is wonderful, she earned and deserved a place at the table.

We worked hard and played hard. I was a terrible player, but thoroughly enjoyed our girls softball games with Trudy, Sue, Diane K, Diane C and many others.

Participating in the Edmonton Sun opening was a highlight, sharing the energy and enthusiasm of the growth of the paper. Setting up the data communications for the back office was also a new experience. Reconnecting with Edmonton friends with social media has been fun.

I still have my Sun memorabilia . . . first day editions, gold charms, mugs, pictures, a farewell caricature by Andy Donato, and anniversary sweatshirts that I wear to this day.

The sadness in some the posts address another unknown era coming for the Sun. 

Here's to the strength, wisdom and energy of years gone by to bring support to the future of The Little Paper That Grew.

Thanks for the memories.

Gail Zangen

To Doug

To Doug, Peter and Don, for past parties and good times:

Last call

Happy 40th one and all. 

Looking forward to reading today's 80-page special spearheaded by Toronto Sun vet Ian Robertson. We're hoping the Sun gave us proper credit for any TSF content used.

Meanwhile, it's now or never for Toronto Sun memories on the Toronto Sun Family blog.

We'll post any submissions of any length received by midnight tonight. 

TSF is receiving emails from readers thanking all of the current and former Sun employees who have shared their memories of the 40-year-old tabloid.  They do tell the story of "family."

The memories, the salutes to Day Oners and all of the TSF content posted in the past five years will remain active for newcomers wanting to know more about the history of the Toronto Sun and its siblings. There will be no new postings after we wind it up after the parties tonight.. 

But my new project won't be starting for a couple of months, so we'll give this a try: TSF visitors will be able to continue leaving comments in an Open Forum posting that will be set up tonight. 

Monitored comments will allow Sun Media employees a focused, collective voice on the Internet.

45 and up

A salute to The 62, or so

Well, here we are on the 40th anniversary of the Toronto Sun and we're still working on the Day Oners list.

In no particular order:

Don Hunt: Of the three wise men who co-founded the Toronto Sun, Don worked mostly behind the scenes. His brother, Jim Hunt, a legendary sports writer, was far more high profile at the Tely and Sun. Don, a former public relations worker, also dabbled in sports at the Tely and was the Tely's syndicate manager when the paper folded in October 1971. Don left the Sun in 1988, moved to the U.S. to work on papers there, including the Houston Post, Denver Post and the Rocky Mountain News. He is now retired. 

Doug Fisher: Doug, a Canadian parliamentary news institution, worked for the Toronto Sun for 35 years writing op-ed columns, beginning with a Day One column about Robert Stanfield. He  became a household name long before the Sun as an MP and, beginning in 1963, as a  syndicated Toronto Telegram columnist. Two sons of his five sons followed in his media footsteps, including Matthew, a former Toronto Sun columnist. Doug retired at 86 and was a day shy of his 90th birthday when he died on Sept. 18, 2009. 

Kaye Corbett, a sports writer who rode tall in the saddle at the Sun from Day One to 1994, almost made a detour to a job in Montreal after the Tely's closing was announced in 1971. But an offer from George GrossJerusalem Sun. But a few years ago, he did submit his memories of being on the job on Nov. 1, 1971.  He vividly remembered the giddiness of that Halloween packaging of the Sun's first 48-page paper, with 13 pages of sports. Read Kaye's Day One memories here. pulled him back into the fold in time to join the relatively small but eager five-man sports desk on Day One. These days, he is a difficult man to reach, so we are not sure if he is still manning the typewriter at the online.

Wasyl Kowalishen, darkroom technician: The darkroom facilities in the Eclipse Building on Day One were flimsy compared to the Tely's darkroom, but Wasyl and the three photogs made do. Wasyl, quite the conversationalist, was proud of the achievements of the Sun pioneers. He was in a tux getting ready a private 30th anniversary Sun dinner for Day Oners when he suffered a stroke in his home on Oct. 31, 1991. He died Nov. 8, 1991. He was 63. John Downing, then editor and also a Day Oner, said: "Wasyl was as much a part of the start-up of the Sun as Doug Creighton. Papers need people like Wasyl."

Kathy Brooks was an unsung heroine in the entertainment department from Day One through to her retirement in 2006. On Day One, she shared entertainment with George Anthony,  had five pages As entertainment editor, she received only praise from the writers and columnists contributing to her department. She cultivated a small but productive collection of Showcase (now ENT) writers to be envied. People who worked for and with Kathy have only praise for her journalistic and management skills and when you are dealing with the entertainment crowd, that is no easy feat. 

Bill Hay, copy editor: A Tely/Sun character, no doubt. This chain-smoking, near-sighted copy editor's legacy includes numerous hilarious newsroom tales, including the day in 1971 when all of the day's wire photos on his desk went up in smoke.

Ken Adachi: Ken, a Vancouver-born former Japanese interment camp resident during WW2, worked briefly for the Telegram before joining the Sun's Day Oners in 1971. In 1972, he moved on to the Toronto Star's sports department, where he became the editor of the book pages in 1976, the same year The Enemy That Never Was, his acclaimed book on Japanese Canadians, was published. Ken was the Star's literary columnist when the first of two plagiarism accusations were raised. He committed suicide on Feb. 9, 1989. He was 60.

Eaton Howitt: This Guelph-born Day Oner, the wearer of many hats during his 41-year career, worked in newsrooms across Canada, capping his journalism days with 13 years at the Canadian Press. Known as one of the last top drawer drinkers, but always the pro, Eaton was said to have a sports who's who contact book to die for. When he died of cancer on April 14, 1987, at 61, Harold Ballard and Jake Gaudaur where among the sports elite to praise Eaton as a reporter and a man. "He just had a way with people," said Gaudaur, the former CFL commissioner who died last December. 

Glen Woodcock: Glen Woodcock: This former Sunday Sun editor left the Sun as associate editor a couple of years ago, but he continues to contribute as an automotive writer, which suits his love of cars, new and old, to a T. His wife, Connie Woodcock (nee Nicholson) is a former reporter and currently a freelance op-ed columnist. Glen's other love is jazz. He has hosted the Saturday night Big Band Show on 91.1 FM since 1975.

Frank Eames, library (deceased)

Jeff Crawford: The second Day One art department staffer retired from the Sun years ago and is living in Bramalea. 

Art Holland: Office manager, furniture mover, pencil counter, Art did it all to help launch the Sun and remained a key player in keeping the Sun viable. Fellow Day Oners say Art was instrumental in moving anything that wasn't tied down at the defunct Telegram to the Eclipse Building at King and John Streets in the two days after the Tely folded. Peter Worthington called it a "hitherto undetected streak of larceny." Said Peter: "While others got accolades at the Sun, it was Art Holland who kept the internal workings of the paper harmonious."

Bill Nicholson, library: Deceased. 

Bruce Rae, business office (deceased)

Where now?

Newsroom: Ray Biggart; Bob McMillan; David Farrer; John Jursa; Helen Bourke; Jim Cowan Grant Maxwell; Olive Collins;

Business office: Jim Brown; Howard Hayes; Mary Zelezinksy

To one and all, a final salute for making it all possible for the hundreds who followed. 

Monday 31 October 2011

Bitchy, eh?

What side of the bed did Christina Blizzard get out of today?

Her 40th anniversary column:

40th video

Catch the four-minute Toronto Sun's 40th anniversary video:

An 80-page 40th section will be in Tuesday's print edition.

Catch it before the three parties around town.

43/44 Jean & Mrs. K.

A salute to The 62, or so

Life at the Toronto Sun would not have been as whole without the ladies on the switchboard, including Day Oners Jean Osborne and Margaret Kmiciewicz, aka Mrs. K.

Reporters depended on  them daily for incoming and outgoing calls from and to people around the world, often when time counted and deadlines were near.

But when the pace was slower and there was time to chat, Jean and Margaret and others who followed were always at reception with advice and stories to tell.

Rather than being shuffled off to a dark closet to work their magic, the switchboard ladies were always an integral part of the newsroom. At 333, they were the first to greet people to the newsroom with a smile and candy.

Margaret, who was switchboard chief, retired from the Sun and died Dec. 13, 2008, at Providence Centre. She was 87. Sun employees had only fond memories.

Jean also retired and if you are in touch with her, give her our regards.

Paul Gillespie

Memories of the Toronto Sun - Paul Gillespie

I started my journey at the Toronto Sun the way most 'day-oners' did, by working at the Toronto Telegram. 

I worked in the Syndicate Department as a messenger. We were a news service, sending columns, cartoons and photos to other newspapers all over the world. 

My job was to get columns and cartoons made up in the Tely composing room, then send them out by mail to the newspapers who ordered them.

Don Hunt, was Syndicate director and my boss. After we were told the Tely was closing, he called me into his office and said he and others were going to start another newspaper the day after the Telegram ends, and they were taking the Syndicate Dept with them. 

Don offered me a job, but said he didn't know if it would last a day, month, or a year. I was just married and living at my mother-in-laws and didn't have any other job to go to, so I jumped at the offer.

Those early days at the Sun were a learn-as-you-go experience. My co-worker, Bruce Borland, and I, went from handing work to Tely comps to doing it ourselves. There was no Tely composing room to make up our reporters' columns or artists to put cutlines under cartoons. 

We also inherited the mailroom duties; all incoming and outgoing mail for the new Toronto Sun. We worked long hours, with a lot of rushing to meet deadlines, but it was the most exciting time I ever had at a job. 

The work environment was easy going and we were all on a first-name basis,. No Mr.s and no more ties. For the first time ever, I enjoyed going to work. 

After three years in the Syndicate Department, I decided to take a new journey - into the pressroom. For three years, the Sun was printed at different plants all over the city. Now we were getting our own presses and they needed four apprentices.

I took a $25 dollar a week drop in pay to work in the pressroom, but would make that up with longer hours, shift work and overtime.

I spent the next 33 years of my Toronto Sun journey in the pressroom. It was the most physically demanding job and the most satisfying I've ever had. 

Every day brought new challenges and new problems as so many things could go wrong and when they did, the paper would be late getting to the street. 

There was never a dull moment with the 40 men I worked with. They made a difficult job fun to do.

I was having so much fun. My three brothers Glenn, Larry, Chris, and my sister Colleen came to work at the Sun as well, though in different departments. I know they loved it as much as I did.

I'll always be proud to say I worked at the Toronto Sun and I'll always be grateful to Don Hunt for giving me the opportunity.

Paul Gillespie

If you are a Toronto Sun Day Oner and have a bio or memories to share, please email with a photo by midnight Nov. 1.

If you are one of the hundreds of men and women in all departments who followed The 62 and want to share your memories of the Toronto Sun, email TSF.

We get links

Former Toronto Sun city desk vet Bill Duff sends this link to a Globe and Mail story about former Sun colleague Bill Sandford's love of Jeeps.

A Rosie gem

The Toronto Star's Rosie DiManno says it all about media conglomerates and the state of print media in her column today:

"It’s not that newspapers are dying because they’ve reached a point of extinction, a selected media Darwinism. It’s because they’re being stabbed in the back by those operating from within the boardrooms.
"We’re deliberately weaning readers off the tactile experience of newspapers by luring them to instant, sloppy, error-riddled, cursorily edited reportage. Then we wonder why circulation is declining? Like I said, dumb as a bag of hammers, the ruling elite in my business. But they’ll retire to lives of leisure and financial security."

Bravo, Rosie.  

Canadian media have been all too silent about the rush to the Internet at the expense of print media. Exhibit A is Sun Media.

Sunday 30 October 2011

John Cosway

Memories of the Toronto Sun - John Cosway 

Nothing in Toronto print media circles in the early 1970s said "underdog" more than the Toronto Sun's factory environment in the Eclipse White Wear Building at King and John Streets.

Creaky wooden floors, exposed overhead heating vents, holes in the walls, an elevator with attitude, a side view of a car wash.

But of my 19 years in the Sun newsroom, most treasured are the four months spent in the Eclipse before the move to the brand new building at 333 in May of 1975.

The move to 333, with its million dollar Goss presses, spoke volumes to what Sun pioneers had achieved in less than four years. It was a breathtaking measure of success and it left an indelible sense of achievement.

(Drove by the newly-owned 333 a couple of months ago and felt drained seeing it gutted, the pressroom and loading docks replaced with a No Frills, the huge mural gone, Red's cafeteria long silenced.)

But back to 1975 . . . 

A 2005 Media Memories blog told of my pre-Sun print media ties, so in a nutshell: Toronto Star carrier; Globe and Mail copy boy; string of reporting jobs in Ontario and British Columbia.

Didn't know it at the time, but working for Mickey "The Tatler" Carlton at the Richmond Review for most of my five years as entertainment editor of the bi-weekly B.C. broadsheet - 1969-1974 - groomed me for the Sun.

It took several attempts to pin down the elusive Les Pyette for a job interview late in 1974, while applying to other daily newspapers in the GTA. Thankfully, no other paper called before I sat down with Pyette and Hartley Steward in a small office in the former factory.

My stack of clippings included a raunchy Review interview with The Happy Hooker at her new nightclub in Vancouver. I think that - and asking for $217 a week, a dollar more than paid at the Review - got me the police desk job, working with Cal Millar, Al Craig and Tony Cote.

During my first week on the job in January 1975, a young female reporter came to work in a red see-through sweater with no bra and I knew working at the Sun was going to be a fun job.

That same week, Connie Nicholson, the future Connie Woodcock, said to me, "I hear you came cheaply." Perhaps, but I was working for a hometown Toronto daily. Didn't know if I'd last a week, but I was there and ready to work.

The streets of Toronto were relatively quiet in the mid-70s, perhaps a gun call once a week. My first front page story had to do with a shooting atop Canada Square and the front page photo was a circled shell casing on the roof. A gun had actually been fired.

Back in the day when the newsroom had a travel budget, Les sent me off to New York three times for Son of Sam coverage; an interview and subway ride with Curtis Sliwa and his Guardian Angels; and to track Baby Herbie.

Also covered the Nationals junior hockey team in Europe; interviewed UFO's Dr. J. A. Hynek near Chicago and jetted off to England, Florida and California for travel pieces.

Man, it was an easy-going newsroom to share with a most talented group of  tabloid men and women.

There I was working under the same roof with Andy Donato, Peter Worthington, Bob MacDonald, George Gross, Jim HuntGord Stimmell, Jerry Gladman, Gary Dunford, Mark Bonokoski, Scott Morrison and numerous other talented men and women.

Doug Creighton, founding publisher, was not a stranger to the newsroom.

And there were the behind-the-scenes editors who mastered the Sun's tabloid formula - almost daily front page magic, with a preference for spot news involving fires, accidents, crime, celebrities and T&A.

I used to sit in the newsroom in awe watching the pros - Les Pyette, Ed Monteith, Peter Brewster, Michael Burke-Gaffney, Peter O'Sullivan, Tim Fryer, Woody McGee, Lew Fournier, Paul Heming, Sandra Macklin, Gord Walsh  et al - in casual garb, loving their work and packaging a newspaper that was the pride of faithful readers. 

Much of the front page magic came from a crack team of competitive, award-winning photographers, including Hugh Wesley, Michael Peake, Norm Betts, Ken Kerr, Fred Thornhill, Bill Sandford, Jac Holland, Stan Behal.

Plus a productive cop desk team over the years that included Cal Millar, Al Craig, Tony Cote, Rob Lamberti, Gord Walsh, Lee Lamothe, Mark Stewart, Jamie Westcott.

And sports and entertainment teams to die for. 

But it would all have been for naught if not for devoted readers who felt like family and were treated like family.

Most nights, when my night shift at 333 was over, I'd stand by the presses talking to the unsung heroes of the pressroom waiting for the presses to roll. The roar of the presses never got tired.

As mentioned, the Sun was fun and unpredictable. One of my favourite days in the newsroom was the day Lou Grant, aka Ed Asner, spent on the city desk as a Doug-appointed associate city editor. Brilliant, but never invite Peter Gross back to the newsroom.

We appreciated the milestone thank you gifts and parties, courtesy of Doug, Peter and Don. It said a lot about their character and the willingness to share the good fortunes of the profitable, rising Sun. The 1991 20th anniversary party at the SkyDome, midway and all, is legendary.

When the Sun made the Top 100 favourite places to work in the 1980s, we all knew why. It was a place where newspaper people made the decisions, not bean counters and stockholders. There was ample staff to do the job properly and when it was done properly, it was recognized.

Words that come to mind: Loyalty. Respect. Sharing. Caring.

There was give and take, with employees sharing the good fortunes of the rising Sun with stock options, two-month sabbaticals, Christmas bonuses, a decent medical plan, milestone parties and milestone gifts.

Some Sun vets got as many as three two-month sabbaticals for each 10 years of service before they were axed by Quebecor. The envy of most companies, the sabbaticals required you get lost, relax and enjoy. Spent my 1985 sabbatical roaming Europe. Relax, indeed.

And when the sabbaticals came to an end, it was back to fun in the Sun. 

The whole building, all six floors, was a joy to roam with my various sports and election pools because everyone was always upbeat. Grouches and grinches were in short supply. 

As the late, great Jerry Gladman told a neighbor he wasn't going to work, he was "going to be with friends."

I never worked in newsrooms for the money, so I really didn't care how much I was earning, but the unsolicited raises kept coming. The Sun took care of its own, so there was no need for a union as long as Doug was at the helm. 

In the 1970s and 1980s, it was also encouraging when Pyette was receptive to my ideas.

After burning out on the cop desk after two years, Les sent me up to the courthouse to set up the Sun court bureau. Previously, we had a crime writer, but no court coverage.

When lotteries became legal in Canada, Les agreed Toronto Sun readers would benefit from a column about lotteries. Peter Brewster came up with Luck of the Draw.

Early in the 1980s, when Beta and VHS machines and movie video rentals were in their infancy, Les agreed readers would benefit from a column about the new form of home entertainment.

Les also agreed when I suggested the Sun being a people paper, man-on-the-street interviews should be added. Five years of street walking looking for comments for You Said It proved very popular in annual readership surveys.

And minutes after Doug's ouster as chairman of the board was announced, Les and Bob MacDonald agreed we had to throw Doug a party. Bob said Doug's birthday was coming up, so a birthday party it was.

I suggested the Eclipse Building was the ideal location and as I discovered in a drive-by after work that night, much of the Eclipse was vacant and available for rent. The next day, I gave Pyette the telephone number from the For Rent banner and the party organizing team took over.

Hundreds of loyal employees lined up for Doug's 64th birthday party. You can view video of Doug's 64th in five parts on YouTube.

From that first day at the Sun in January of 1975 to my departure in January 1994, the tabloid was a home away from home.

But the mood on all six floors changed dramatically after Doug's incredulous ouster. I was going to leave a few months later, but a pool-playing Sun colleague said to hold on, the first buyout offer was on the way.

Any lingering doubts about taking time out to smell the rose ended the day Paul Heming, 53, a much admired copy desk editor, was found dead in his home.

Others gone before their time - under 65 - before and after I left include Ben Grant, Lloyd Kemp, Greg Parent, Mark Stewart, Jamie Westcott, Paul Henry, Bruce Blackadar, David Bailey, Jerry Gladman, Joe Fisher, Cam Norton, Joe O'Donnell, Paul Rimstead, Ray Smith, Phil Sykes, Ted Welch, Jim Yates, Sherri Wood, Nick Ibscher, Michel Gratton, Kathy Morrison, George Rennie, Garf and John Webb, Bob Jelenic, John Jamieson, Ken Adachi.

A generation raised on the original Front Page expected newspaper men and women to die with their boots on in their 80s and 90s, not in their prime, so there have been too many funerals for Sun colleagues in their 20s to 60s.

For me, and many others, the day Doug was ousted was the day the music died. We lost that loving feeling and just couldn't get it back.

But our love for the Sun as it was into the 1990s, and the unique work environment it offered, continues.

Thanks to all of the good and talented people who shared the floors of the Eclipse Building and 333 and helped make my 19 years at the Sun a dream job.

It was quite the ride. 

John Cosway
Port Hope 

If you are a Toronto Sun Day Oner and have a bio or memories to share, please email with a photo before Nov. 1.

If you are one of the hundreds of men and women in all departments who followed The 62 and want to share your memories of the Toronto Sun, email TSF.

Peter Worthington

Memories of the Toronto Sun - Peter Worthington

Sun co-founder Peter Worthington marks his pending 40th with a column posted online tonight.

Joan Sutton 2

Memories of the Toronto Sun - Joan Sutton Straus 2
Morning and the East River tides are moving along . . . more memories. 
George Gross and the word scoop. He was the only person outside of a movie I ever heard use that word. George lived for the glory of getting a scoop and his angst was rooted in his fear that he might, somehow, be scooped. 
Scoops were the province of Bob MacDonald. While the rest of us were busy being celebrities, Bob was the quiet, workhorse journalist who stubbornly kept after what he knew as a good story. His desk was a model of controlled chaos. You stopped breathing when you came within 10 feet for fear of launching an avalanche. 
And help me out here, the legendary sports writer who came from the Tely - I am having an almost seventy-nine memory lapse. He arrived at the new building, took one look at the new typewriters, picked his up, threw it in the wastebasket and forever after, wrote from home. 
And I remember now that one of the issues in the Eclipse Building rebellion, along with the concerns about launching a Sunday paper when we were already overworked (not that we ever had a vote), was who ran the newsroom - Creighton or Worthington. 
Not sure why that was an issue. They probably disagreed over an editorial endorsement. But that was the subject of the post-rebellion announcement in the newsroom. 
So, Creighton's expenses may have been an issue and perhaps for some, they were the excuse to act, but they were a minor part of the turmoil. 
Too much attention is paid, in my opinion, to Doug's expenses. Some board members give that as an excuse for getting rid of him. If that was the case, then the whole board should have fired itself for Doug was nothing, if not consistent, in his approach to expenses. From Day One. 
If Oscar was reading this, he would tell me, Joan, you are in danger of chewing your cabbage twice. So, once again, 30.

If you are a Toronto Sun Day Oner and have a bio or memories to share, please email with a photo before midnight Tuesday.

If you are one of the hundreds of men and women in all departments who followed The 62 and want to share your memories of the Toronto Sun, email TSF.

Joan Sutton

Memories of the Toronto Sun - Joan Sutton Straus

It is two o'clock in the morning; I've poured myself a single malt, stream of consciousness time. 

I won't be at the party at the Westin, not because I don't want to be there, but life, duty, love, get in the way. 

Love, what else would you expect from Sutton's Place? 

Do all roads lead back to the Sun? Not all, but this one does. I write this from the 46th floor of an apartment in Manhattan that overlooks the East River and the lights of the city. 

How did I get here? Doug Creighton suggested I interview Mona Campbell, who had just become the first woman to be appointed a director of a bank. Mona and I became friends, she introduced me to Oscar Straus and here I am. That was 31 years ago.

Forty years ago? It was McKenzie Porter who taught me about expense accounts. I had come back from covering the fashion shows in Paris for the Telegram. Ken happened to see my expense account. 

"There are no dinners," he said. And I explained that friends had taken me out to dinner. "That won't do, you'll make the rest of us look bad," he said. Thereupon, he fixed my expense account. Shortly after that - very shortly - I met Art Holland. A memorable meeting.

McKenzie Porter was an elegant writer. Elegant is the only word to describe his use of language. We had adjoining desks at the Tely where, after his daily visit to the Spadina Hotel, he would ask me to type his column while he dictated. His fingers were intoxicated. But not the flow of words.

Why did Doug Creighton invite me to be a day oner? That's a mystery only he could answer. I had been at the Tely for less than a year, had written only fashion, except for my one excursion into journalism when Creighton sent me to Ottawa to cover the return of Pierre and Margaret Trudeau after their surprise marriage.

I suspect that I was the columnist's equivalent to his Winston lunches - I had access to interviews with people Creighton wanted the Sun to reach. Whatever his reasons, the result for me was work I am proud of and  friends I cherish. 

And it's all about people. The people I worked with who became friends. The people I worked with who taught me so much - John Downing, Kathy Brooks, JDM. The morning hug from Donato. The daily flirt with George Gross. Ed Monteith, who thought boobs was an acceptable word but crotch was not. So I gave him a cactus. 

And letters from readers sharing their lives. Pouring over all those entries to the Sun's Dunlop Awards . . . debating them with Monteith and Arnold Agnew. Being awed at the flow of talent that was turning the Sun into the little paper that was no longer little.

There have been some references in these blogs to the uprising that took place in the Eclipse building. I don't remember that it was about Creighton's expense account. Certainly that was not an issue with me. I had been Doug's guest at Winston's and ridden in his limo far too often to complain about that.

For me, it began with Peter Worthington introducing me to Eddie Goodman. Goodman called me the next day and invited me to lunch where he quizzed me about morale at the paper and particularly what I thought about the proposed launch of a Sunday Sun. 

I said I thought that we needed to beef up the daily paper first. I was, of course, wrong on that. But that did lead to George Anthony and I getting a secretary and to additional shares being offered to day oners who had not received any in the first round. 

And it also led to my tempestuous affair with Eddie Goodman. But that's another story. (Why should I start being discreet now? In many ways, I think the Sun was the precursor of reality TV, with Rimstead getting drunk publicly and me, offering up love, loneliness and the very personal on a daily basis.)

I think a lot of the Sun's early financial success can be credited to George Anthony, who not only covered movies, television, the theater, supper clubs and everything else that came under the heading of entertainment, but he brought in pages of ads. 

And let us remember that, yes, we had fun but by God we worked! I turned out daily columns, weekly interviews, cooking, fashion, plus supplements designed to get advertising - bride's, career girls, salutes to volunteers. And we were all encouraged/expected to be out in the community at speaking engagements, doing good works. 

The Sun was our life. There wasn't time for much else. 

I'm not going to rework the incident with (Paul) Rimstead that made me leave the Sun the first time. That was - and still is - a very painful experience for me. 

A couple of years ago Andy and Diane visited me in New York and after a glass of one thing or another, Andy asked "You weren't really happy at the Star were you Joan?" And my answer is, I was happy at the Sun. I didn't go to the Star to be happy. I went to the Star to earn a living. There is a difference.

For me, the Sun I loved ended with the firing of Doug Creighton. I will never forget the phone call I received from him, telling me that he had been fired and asking whether I could put him and Marilyn up at the River Club in New York because he needed to get away. 

Hours later, he was in New York and it was devastating to see Doug, all that ebullience and joy drained from him. I don't believe that the real story of his departure has ever been told. It should be. He made a lot of people very rich and they were not there for him when he needed them.

So, 40 years. lots of stories. Successes, failures, friendships, betrayals, work, rewards, laughter, tears.

Time to go to bed Joan. As we used to write: 30. 

Joan Sutton Straus
New York

If you are a Toronto Sun Day Oner and have a bio or memories to share, please email with a photo before Nov. 1.

If you are one of the hundreds of men and women in all departments who followed The 62 and want to share your memories of the Toronto Sun, email TSF.

39-42 Mesngers

A salute to The 62, or so
39 - Jim Thomson was one of four messengers at the Sun on Day  One, and is one of four remaining Day Oners on the job, along with Peter Worthington, Andy Donato and Christina Blizzard. Jim eventually worked his way into the graphics department, becoming  an unsung  hero who gave the tabloid its quality colour front pages and eye-catching photos and graphics throughout the paper. Over the years, he has dabbled in reporting, writing travel stories etc. In 1994, he inherited the weekly television guide video column from John Cosway and wrote it for more than a decade until it was axed. Today, Jim is the Sun's photo editor, working with photo vets Michael Peake, Stan Behal and others.
40 - Frank Benedetti, one of Andy Donato's uncles, was the talk of the Sun because he owned a 1955 Cadillac. A baker by trade, Frank delivered bread from an Italian bakery on Elm Street to the Italian community in Toronto, says Andy. As a Sun Day Oner, he was responsible for getting the daily layouts to Inland Publishing in Mississauga and there are stories to be told about car problems and missed deadlines. Andy says Frank worked at the Sun into the early 1980s and died 18 years ago.

41 - Jim Walsh - Where now? 

42 - Graham Evoy - Where now?

 If you are a Toronto Sun Day Oner and have a bio or memories to share, please email with a photo before Nov. 1.

If you are one of the hundreds of men and women in all departments who followed The 62 and want to share your memories of the Toronto Sun, email TSF.

The 62, or so

One Toronto Sun fact that hasn't been nailed down in its first 40 years is the number of authenticated Day Oners, people who were on the job and on the payroll contributing to the first issue of the tabloid.

Most quoted number over the years is 62? Why? Who knows, but TSF should have been paying tribute to The 62, or so. 

In his 1993 book, Sunburned - Memoirs of a Newspaperman, Doug Creighton lists 82 Day Oners on one page, but refers to 62 on at least three other pages. 

Andy Donato tells TSF: "The exact number has always been a mystery. It was originally supposed to be 50 only, but as time went on we kept hiring more and more.  I always thought the number (for day one) was 72."
Ron Poulton's count in his 1976 book Life in a Word Factory is 69. 

In a 1975 Peter Worthington story about the Sun's move from the Eclipse building to 333, it was 68. 

So we turned to two Day Oners, John Downing and John Iaboni, for guidance. 

John Iaboni writes:

"First of all, my heartfelt thanks to you for all that you have done for this web site over the years. Your dedication and passion are remarkable; your work is most appreciated.

"Regarding the question about the 62, where that number came from, what the accurate number is and how one derives at what constitutes a Day Oner, quite frankly, the answers are hard to come by. 

"With Doug Creighton deceased, it falls upon Don Hunt and Peter Worthington to probably answer those queries - if they can. I say IF because even in Doug’s book, confusion does arise.
"When you sent your email, I sought out and found my copy of Sunburned - Memoirs of a Newspaperman. I intend to re-read it over the next few days as nostalgia mounts, but my quick glance at it prompted by your email uncovered three references to 62 - and that’s the figure I’ve most heard over the years.

"On Page 84, in a chapter entitled 'Sun Rising,' Doug talks about he, Don and Peter in the planning stages of the new paper in the wake of the Tely folding: “The first sign that we might have a popular idea with our new tabloid was that only three of sixty-two people we wanted opted to take a guaranteed job.”

"On Page 95, in a chapter entitled 'Sunburst', Doug talks about those anxious moments on the floor at Inland Publishing at 3 a.m. on November 1, 1971, as a delay left those there wondering if the presses would ever roll: “The sixty-two happy staffers at the Sun had long ago lost their happy smiles and were now looking desperate.”

"On Page 194, in a chapter entitled 'Eclipsed', Doug wrote of the emotional reception Sun staffers held in his honour at the old Eclipse building after he was deposed: “On day one of the Toronto Sun there were sixty-two people in the building. On this day there were 900 chanting and applauding.”

"OK, so that’s three references to 62. But then confusion arises on page 85 where, in a separate box out of a screened background, Doug wrote the following, which shows 20 additional names to the 62 (some freelancers perhaps because I know in our case Ted Reeve was never considered to be part of sports department even though we ran his column). You will note that suddenly “Day-oners” and “Originals” were subject to interpretation. Anyway, here’s what he wrote along with all the 82 names:

No book written about the Sun would be complete without naming our originals. I believe in every case they turned down another job to go for the brass ring. Here they are:

Ken Adachi, George Anthony, Frank Benedetti, Norm Betts, Ray Biggart, David Black, Christina Blizzard, Linda Bone, Bruce Borland, Kathy Brooks, Helen Bourke, James Brown, Mary Buchanan, Larry Collins, Olive Collins, Dave Cooper, Kaye Corbett, Ron Cornell, James Cowan, Jeff Crawford, Doug Creighton, Sandra D’Cruz, Andy Donato, John Downing, Frank Eames, Graham Evoy, Domenica Farella, David Farrer, Mike Farrugia, Doug Fisher, Hugh Funston, Paul Gillespie, George Gross, William Hay, Howard Hayes, Art Holland, Jac Holland, Eaton Howitt, Don Hunt, John Iaboni, Noel Ing, Gordon Jackson, Sherry Johnston, John Jursa, Margaret Kmiciewicz, Bill King, Wasyl Kowalishen, John LeMay, Bob MacDonald, John MacKay, Grant Maxwell, Mike McCabe, Bob McMillan, Cal Millar, Norm Milne, Ed Monteith, Michelle Morey, Bill Nicholson, Maury Nicholson, Don Nixon, Jean Osborne, Dick Plummer, Bruce Rae, Ann Rankin, Ted Reeve, Dennis Ricker, Paul Rimstead, Ken Robertson, Bob Routledge, Dick Shatto, Joan Sutton, Jim Thomson, Donnie Tonks, Ron Tonks, Sylvia Train, Bruce Tuttle, Ed Tybruczyk, Jim Walsh, Glen Woodcock, Peter Worthington, Jim Yates, Mary Zelezinsky.

(TSF: The names in bold are names that are not in Poulton's 1976 list.)

"So, John, that’s it, the best I can find without referring to the writings of Ron Poulton or Jean Sonmor. Whatever the number, however the interpretation, the fact is it was a small group and compared to working at the Tely, the group was a “family”  like no other. Glad I was a part of it!

Thanks for the input, John.

John Downing writes:

"Doug Fisher was a Day Oner. He was miffed that his name was seldom mentioned in the group.

"I had several arguments with Doug Creighton, who was the man in charge of anything to do with the Day Oners, over Percy Rowe and others who came several weeks later after the glorious start. 

"Percy had tried some magazine and didn't like it. Doug C. was firm. Unless a person was there on Oct. 31, the Sunday in between the Saturday the Tely closed, and the Monday when the Sun hit the streets, he or she was not a Day Oner. If he or she wasn't there, there had to be a commitment in the first week or so that they would be working for us. 

"This went far beyond any mention in any book. The whole share deal, which came much, much later, depended totally on whether Creighton considered you a Day Oner."

Thanks John.

We agree with Doug's description of a Day Oner, but where did the list of 82 names in his book originate when he refers to 62 several times on other pages? 

All too confusing.