Wednesday 29 June 2011

The Factory 2

We're getting the feeling these colour photos were snapped in the months before the move to 333 King St. E. in the summer of 1975.

Thanks to Sun vets and TSF readers, all of the rim staffers are identified:

Peter Brewster is in the slot.

"The guy on the left is John McCallum, who was a professor at Ryerson and did some part-time work at the Sun," says a TSF reader. "He taught copy editing in the early 70s. A classic Front Page kind of guy."

Sitting to his left, Gordon Stimmell, who was the Sun's TV guide editor for 25 years before axed in 1999 during the Quebecor downsizing. He is now at the Toronto Star.

Another TSF reader has identified the person to the left of Stimmell as Sheila Patterson.

And another TSF reader writes: "The guy way at the back in the white shirt and dark tie is former desker Bill Hay."

Thank you, TSF readers.

One of the much appreciated freedoms of the Sun was casual attire, day or night, male and female.

Note the tools of the rim trade - and the ashtrays.

More to come.

Tuesday 28 June 2011

We get links

The Interview From Hell.

Thankfully, we are Bell subscribers.

30: Frank Dobrovnik

Frank Dobrovnik, a 13-year Sault Star newsroom vet, has died suddenly of a suspected heart attack while vacationing in Italy with his wife. He was 41.

The Ryerson grad and father of two young children joined the Star in 1998 after a nine-month stint at the Timmins Daily Press. 

His wife, Lisa, a former Woodstock Sentinel-Review staffer, now works at the OLG in Sault St. Marie.

Frank Rupnik, editor of the Sault Star, pays tribute to the popular reporter today in the Star. You can read it here

Memories of Frank can be emailed to TSF.

Monday 27 June 2011

Null? Ignore?

We were fascinated by Peter Worthington's Sunday Sun print edition column on chimps and lab experiments.

But when we went to for a link for TSF readers, the message for Peter's column was "Null - ignore."

Say what?

So we checked the Frum Forum, managed by Peter's son-in-law, David Frum, and here's the column.

Two questions: Why isn't Peter's chimp story online at and why was it online at Frum Forum 11 days before it appeared in the Sun's print edition?


Quote of the week: "We all need to give it a rest."

Ripped from Rob Granatstein's Sunday Sun column about Toronto media's abuse of the use of "exclusive."

The Toronto Sun's editorial page editor no doubt speaks for readers perplexed by the recent abundance of exclusives. 

Good on you, Rob. It has been getting a little silly.

Sunday 26 June 2011

The Factory 1

In this 40th year of the Toronto Sun, by chance this pack rat found a couple of dozen colour negatives of The Word Factory, where it all started on Nov. 1, 1971.

Not sure who snapped the photos - Norm Betts, David Cooper and Jac Holland were the Day One photographers - or how they ended up here in a box of Sun clippings.

But we'll share them with TSF readers who might not appreciate the humble beginnings of the little tabloid that grew in the former Elclipse Whitewear Building at 322 King St. W.

We're not sure when the photos were taken, but the Sun called the Eclipse Building home from November of 1971 until the summer of 1975.

The above photo captures the newsroom's cavernous environment. Note the open ceilings, huge heating vents, casual attire - and typewriters.

If you recognize any of the staffers, email their names to TSF.

More to come.

Saturday 25 June 2011

Re George Rennie

George Rennie, a former Toronto and Edmonton Suns tech whiz, died in Oakville in 2008 but a former co-worker and friend in Scotland found his obit here just recently. 

Jim Biddulph (compositor/keyboard, retired), says in an email to TSF: 

Please forward this to George's family.

I hope this is the right George Rennie.  I worked with a George Rennie over 40 years ago in a company called Typesetting Services Ltd., in Hope Street,  Glasgow, Scotland. This would be the clue if I have the correct person.  

So sorry to read of his early death due to the Big C. The (TSF) obituary of Tuesday 22nd January, 2008, which I have just found on the Internet, convinces me that it is the George I knew all those years ago.  

We were young tradesmen making our way in the printing trade as Monotype keyboard operators.  George was always full of life and fun and we worked early and late shifts for a few years together.

I will always remember our last night out along with colleague Harry McCrae before George emigrated to Canada, as a sad occasion, we all got on so well together. He emigrated to Edmonton and 'The Sun' was mentioned, another clue.

On a visit back to Scotland a few years later, we met up again in Partick, Glasgow for a pint and he told me about OCR, which was being used in Canada, while we here still had barely heard of it. He was convinced this was the way forward in typesetting for quick turnaround of copy. 

After that visit, we lost contact. I was pleased to read of his being a pre-press whiz kid as he saw Canada as a land of opportunity for his talents.

A memory that stuck with me was on a late shift, he had raging toothache and we tried to alleviate his pain with a whisky  soaked cotton bud to soothe his tooth, this only worked for a short time till the whisky was finished.  After about an hour or two  of suffering he came in with a pair of pliers for someone to pull it out. However, we did manage to convince him to wait and go to a dentist the next day.

All the guys he knew back here are all retired or passed on.  We have two reunions per annum and those at our last night out who remembered George were sorry to hear of his passing.

We don't always remember everyone we have worked with, but George was a friend in the workplace and outwith the workplace.

Kind regards to family.

Friday 24 June 2011

Masthead look

The masthead in the Toronto Sun's Comment section has added another righty.

That leaves Mike Power, publisher, and James Wallace, editor in chief, on top of four lefties and three righties, plus "J. Douglas Creighton, OC, Founding Publisher," in type that is more easily read. 

Ah, sweet symmetry.


A TSF tipster says a Sun Media expert was down Niagara way to talk about social media and press coverage.

Take a look at the St. Catharines Standard and how its reporters are tweeting city council meetings while in session, the assembly was told.

Welland Tribune reps listened, but later noted Sun Media will not allow any equipment purchases. 

"So if they want to do this they (reporters) would have to buy their own equipment," says the tipster.

We're sure the general response will be "Tweet this, Sun Media."

Monday 20 June 2011

Bob E's day

It was Bob Elliott's day at a Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame gathering in St. Mary's on Saturday.

The veteran Toronto Sun baseball writer was inducted into the Hall of Fame and praised by some of the greats of the game, including former Jays pitcher Tom Henke.

A Mike Koreen story in today's Kingston Whig-Standard says it all.

Congrats, Bob.

We get links

From a TSF reader:

Another Quebecor paper in Alberta is looking for a "Mobile Multimedia Journalist". The qualifications are:

Must write on any topic, edit, shoot and edit still pictures, shoot and edit video, do podcasts, edit audio, blog, maintain a Facebook page and produce frequent Tweets.

Actual journalism experience is not required.

Sunday 19 June 2011

Sun sites crash

We were going to provide links to a couple of Toronto Sun stories, but  the site has crashed.

As have the Sun sites in Ottawa, Winnipeg, Calgary and Edmonton.

This appeared throughout the early morning hours at

Proxy Error

The proxy server received an invalid response from an upstream server.
The proxy server could not handle the request GET /cs/Satellite.

Reason: Error reading from remote server

Apache/2.2.3 (Red Hat) Server at Port 80

That is a first in a while.

Any tipsters out there in the know?

Saturday 18 June 2011


Tonight's America's Most Wanted on Fox is the last for the weekly crime-fighting series, but it's not the end of AMW.

The weekly AMW newsletter says four two-hour specials will be aired next season.

Four specials a year? That will take a lot of pressure off of the bad guys who have been looking over their shoulders weekly for the 24 years John Walsh has been hosting the show.

The AMW newsletter says:

"As you may have heard, this Saturday night will be the final series episode of America's Most Wanted. The show, however, is planning to produce four specials throughout the next year, so the quest for justice is not over yet.

"We thank all of you who have watched us week after week over the past 24 seasons. It has been a pleasure to serve this country as well as you, the viewer."

Nothing lasts forever, but AMW, a series that assisted police forces around the world with unsolved crimes and manhunts, including Canada, is needed now more than ever.

Four times a year just doesn't cut it.

Take a read of online stories for the mood of viewers and police and a campaign to keep AMW on air weekly at Fox, or another network. Here or here.

"I'm fighting hard to keep this franchise going," Walsh, 65, told the Associated Press. "It's a television show that gets ratings AND saves lives, and we'll find somewhere to keep going. We're not done."

No word from Fox on the fate of the AMW website.

As for Walsh, the father of a murdered six-year-old boy, if he can't save AMW, he should be hired by the Obama administration for a role in the fight against crime.

Meanwhile, Fox will no doubt fill the Saturday night AMW slot with mindless - and cheaper - fluff.

Thursday 16 June 2011

Van yahoos

Now we know why the Toronto Maple Leafs don't want to get anywhere near the Stanley Cup.

They are sparing Toronto the mayhem of the yahoos.

Monday 13 June 2011

Vallee update

Brian Vallee is breathing on his own and out of ICU, says longtime friend Ron Base in updating his condition today.

"I'm in Paris at the moment, but I'm in touch with Nancy and the news is pretty good," says Ron. "Brian has regained consciousness, is breathing on his own, and is out of the ICU.

"He can talk, but for the moment only in a whisper. That will improve in the days to come, He's even been walking a bit, I'm told.

"Still, there is a long road ahead, but as those who have known him over the years have come to realize, never, never underestimate Brian, and his ability to make a comeback."

You said it, Ron. There are more books to write and stories to share for the former Toronto Sun reporter and Windsor Mafia member.

Thanks for the update. TSF readers have been asking about Brian since he was admitted to St. Michael's Hospital three weeks ago.

30: Shaun Best

The story says a former colleague remembers Best getting his start as a freelance photographer with the Sun when in high school. In the 1990s, he moved to Montreal to work for Reuters.

“It's a real shock,” Winnipeg Sun photographer Brian Donogh says in the story. “He was a friendly guy and very hardworking. He was dedicated to his work and had a real touch for sports photography.”

Other Tweets from journalists indicate Best was scheduled to travel to Boston to shoot tonight's Game 6 of the Stanley Cup.

Friday 10 June 2011

We get links

No Glee for fired Chicago Sun-Times critic.,0,7778076.column

Mural update

The Toronto Sun's mindset these days is puzzling.

Not a single word in the Sun all week about the removal of the mural founding publisher Doug Creighton commissioned with great pride in 1991 - a magnet for tourists and historians since it was unveiled in 1993.

No Sun words in print or online from the new owners of 333, Sun employees, city historians etc. Pathetic, really. 

But finally, our old friend Al "Nosey Parker" Parker wrote about the mural's demise in his blog on Thursday.

The former newsroom vet, who continued writing his Nosey Park blog after taking a buyout a few years ago, doesn't seem too disappointed with yet another slice of Sun history being erased. 

"There seems to be a certain amount of gnashing of teeth over the mural’s destruction," he writes. "I have a hard time building up that level of intensity: I miss it more because I love the history of Toronto than I do because of any nostalgia for what it represented about the 'old' Sun and its place in the fabric of the city.

"Surprisingly, I seem to be in the company of the artist, John Hood, who designed and painted the mural between 1991 and 1993 with his sister Alexandra: 'I don’t blame the new owners, that’s their right. To put a positive spin on this, it lasted 20 years. That’s a good lifespan for a mural,' John told’s Mark Kay."

But wait . . . 

More interesting is Al's photos of a slab of mural still intact and partially covered by a blue tarp. 

Dare we hope the new owners, First Gulf Development Corporation, plan to donate the surviving slice of history to the city for placement elsewhere?

Or, perhaps, they plan to work it into the exterior renovations at 333. 

Whatever, we remain puzzled by the Sun's reluctance to tell readers about the mural's fate. 

Why has beaten the Sun to its own story?

Thursday 9 June 2011

We get links

From a follower of Andy Donato and Mark "Bono" Bonokoski, two Sun vets who go wayyyy back:

Donato's diet

Yes, that is our Andy Donato in a Harvey Brooker weight loss testimonial being aired on 1010. 

The veteran Sun Media editorial cartoonist tells TSF he was up to 236 pounds when he decided to do something about his weight.

"Lost 36 pounds in six months," says Andy, who turns 75 this year. "The golf game is still the same, but my health is better."

Congrats on the weight loss, Andy.

(Speaking of birthdays, retired Sun vet Les Pyette, who just turned 66, tells TSF: "If Ed Monteith were alive, he would be 85; Donato turns 75 this year; John Downing too; Hartley Steward is 70 on July 1; I think Peter Worthington is 106.")

Downing's 75th is tomorrow, June 10. Have a good one, John.

We get links

A TSF reader writes: "Hilarious John Doyle column in Globe and Mail on Sun TV."

Tuesday 7 June 2011

Torontoist: Mural

Updated 8/6/11 re new Torontoist story
For all the enjoyment the Toronto Sun mural has given passersby for almost 20 years, very little is being said about its demise.

So we're pleased to see a mention over at, with photos of the dismantling of John and Alexandra Hood's mural, commissioned by Doug Creighton in 1991.

(You can read an updated Torontoist story, with quotes from Mike Power, John Hood, First Gulf etc. here. Says Hood, he was not informed about his mural's fate.) 

Says Torontoist:

"The Toronto building was purchased by the First Gulf Development Corporation in 2011, and apparently its new owners decided the mural had to go - or at least part thereof."

We're still waiting for the decision makers to say what, if any, effort was made to save the mural.

BTW: has more photos and a few comments about the mural.

But where's the bigger mainstream media story, with quotes from city hall, historians, First Gulf, the Toronto Sun, John and Alexandra Hood?

Their silence is deafening.

Sunday 5 June 2011

30 for Sun mural?

The new owners of 333 King Street East have apparently decided Toronto and Toronto Sun history be damned.

If a TSF tip from "CityPainter" is accurate, the 180-foot mural, admired by countless passersby since 1993, is in the process of being chipped away into ruble.

On Saturday, CityPainter left this comment on our post "Sun mural":

"As of today, this mural is about 1/3 gone. Yesterday, that entire wall was covered with a blue tarp, and today men on a raised platform were chipping it to pieces and tossing down the loose bricks. The entire wall from ground to roof is being knocked down. So, it seems there will be no restoration or preservation of the mural.

"I understand that south wall will contain entrances to new LCBO and Dollarama stores. Since the mural did not begin until 10 or 15 feet from the ground, I thought there would be room to punch in the entrances beneath it, but I guess they have bigger plans, perhaps an all-glass front or additional setback on the rather narrow sidewalk."

Read the previous TSF Sun mural posting and view the 32 vignettes.

Its loss to the Sun and Toronto is a shame. 

Doug Creighton, the Sun's founding publisher, commissioned Toronto artist John Hood to create the Front Street mural in 1991. Hood and his sister, Alexandra, devoted two years to creating the 4,000-square-foot mural.

TSF emailed John Hood after 333 was sold to ask his feelings about the future of the mural, but we didn't get a reply.

We didn't see a Mike Filey column on its future, or a campaign by the historical society to preserve it.

If there are any people who were involved in the decision making, please share with TSF readers.

Could it not be incorporated with the new face of 333? Could it not be moved to another location?

The once proud and bustling six-floor Toronto Sun building being reduce to a No Frills market, an LCBO, a Dollarama outlet etc. is a sad affair in this 40th year of the flagship tabloid.

Saturday 4 June 2011

Moby arises

We started to mourn the loss of entertainer Moby when we read the online headline: 

Moby electrocuted at show

But miracle of miracles, the story has Moby messaging his fans after being "electrocuted" in Amsterdam.

OK, it was Moby who told fans "Yes, I was mildly electrocuted during an acoustic show at the reflex gallery in Amsterdam, but I'm feeling a-ok now."

But headline writers, including those for Sun Media, should know when you are electrocuted, you are shockingly dead, not up and about. got the headline right by quoting Moby when he said he was "mildly electrocuted." 

Friday 3 June 2011

Masthead play

The name play in the Toronto Sun's Comment masthead has been active recently.

Masthead lefties are more dominant than ever, with six names - Mike Power, James Wallace, Kevin Hann, Rob Granatstein, Lorrie Goldstein and Mark Bonokoski.

Power used to be alone at the top in the masthead, then Wallace joined him and now Hann. We thought it might be egos involved, but it is more likely symmetry. 

Masthead righties are down to two - with Piero Menicucci's name dropped recently as VP Finance - plus J. Douglas Creighton, founding publisher, OC, shamefully in smaller type that can barely be read. 

So what's the story with Menicucci? A TSF tipster says he has moved to corporate.

And what happened to Brandon Grosvenor, whose name was added to the masthead in December 2009 as VP advertising sales?

"Brandon left on his own accord in May," says another tipster.

Terry Jones Famer

Congrats to Edmonton Sun sports vet Terry Jones for his Hockey Hall of Fame inductee nod.

Jones, a Sun sports staffer since 1982, has been covering the Edmonton Oilers since their inception in 1972, says a Sun news story.

Affectionately called Jonesy by colleagues, the hockey/football writer got a call from the Hockey Hall of Fame on Thursday advising him he is this year's recipient of the Elmer Ferguson Memorial Award for hockey journalism.

Named by the Professional Hockey Writers Association, he will be inducted to the Hall in November in Toronto.

Like many of Canada's sports writers, Jones got his start in high school writing hockey reports for the local newspaper in Lacombe. He worked for the Edmonton Journal from 1967 to 1982.

The Sun story says Jones "has covered over 500 Stanley Cup playoff games, including all 251 played by the Edmonton Oilers."


Thursday 2 June 2011

Memories of Lloyd

Updated 24/6/11

Nancy Stewart, one of our favourite 333 vets, writes: Lloyd Finley was one of the most interesting and entertaining sports desk guys we had ever encountered. Our Composing Room Department worked closely with him and he kept us in stitches with his hilarious stories and witty comments on the world's events. He was a joy to work with. One day he walked into our department wearing an over-sized WWI helmet and proclaimed excitedly, "Over the top, boys!" Only one of the many memorable moments we will hold dear from our great friend Lloyd. We will all miss him. 

Andy Balfour writes: I really loved working with Lloyd Finley. He always could put a smile on my face and have the evening workload go by so quickly when we would tell some of his stories.

My condolences to the Finley family. 

Randy Miller writes: Lloyd Finley was one of the best editors I had worked with at The Sun.

His sense of humour and his ability to make you feel an intimate part of his view on various subjects made the work of the evening go more pleasant.

Lloyd endeared himself to the whole production department and the lost, knowing him, is like losing a dear friend. 

John Iaboni, a Toronto Sun Day Oner who shared the tabloid's sports desk with the late Tely and Sun vet Lloyd Finley, writes:

Funny how things go in life. Just recently I was thinking about Lloyd Finley, wondering where he was and what he was up to because he was such a gentle man who helped me so much at the outset of my career in journalism at The Telegram before further influencing me at The Sun. 

On top of that, he ended what could have been a tragic event in Mississauga with an unforgettable tag line, which will be explained further in this recollection.

So tonight I learned through TSF of Lloyd’s passing, sad news made even sadder to learn that he dealt with a ravaging battle with dementia because his sharp mind is what stands out most about this little man who was a giant in his own right. 

Lloyd was a terrific desk guy with an awesome sense of humour. He covered the trots and in his writings he always exhibited a remarkable wit, something he always found a way to incorporate into those witty headlines.

Lloyd also believed in letting a writer be himself or herself. He cleaned things up nicely, but he never, ever, to my recollection, rewrote anyone’s copy because he allowed a writer to express oneself whether he agreed with the viewpoint or not.

As I remember, Lloyd was one of those individuals who couldn’t take a chance on the birth of The Sun because he put his family first when The Tely folded. He needed the safe haven of something concrete - and not a dream that could or could not have survived, so he accepted work elsewhere, in public relations if memory serves me correctly, only to return to the fold at some point early in The Sun years.

The tally sheet had him with 34 years in the business – 17 at The Tely and 17 at The Sun.

One of Lloyd’s greatest contributions in journalism had nothing to do with sports editing or sports writing but rather showing his flair for being able to handle a news story with dignity, facts and wit, proving sports writers could rise to the task with the best of them.

It occurred on October 2, 1978 when a fire at the Texaco Refinery in Port Credit prompted the evacuation of more than 1,000 - and produced some spectacular photos. 

You have to put yourself into the context of that time, which unlike today when news of it would go viral with umpteen photos and reports both from media and “would-be media”, Lloyd stepped in to provide the riveting eyewitness account.

As we all immersed ourselves into learning as much as possible, Lloyd became our eyes and ears, offering The Sun a terrific perspective from a veteran journalist who also happened to live in the vicinity of the fire, so no one could outdo him in the account from those “hinterland” days way out there in “Mississauga”.

Although we would later learn that the tragedy was the result of arson, it was a scary time as residents nervously watched firefighters from Mississauga, Texaco and Toronto International Airport take hours to bring the blaze under control.

During this era, the Texaco slogan played off its long-standing campaign of “that’s why you can trust your car to the man who wears the Star.” So “Trust Texaco” was ingrained in the minds of consumers.

Please forgive me if time has tainted my exact remembrance, but I seem to recall Lloyd ending his piece of watching his community up in flames by writing “that’s why I’ll never trust Texaco again.” 

He wrote from the heart, divulging what hit him at that moment  . . . always witty and a great turn of phrase . . . that was Lloyd. To know that mind was deprived from him and for his immediate family in the final stages truly is unfair. 

Rest in peace dear friend … and Fin, thanks for everything, I knew I could always trust in you.

Memories of Lloyd Charles Finley can be emailed to TSF.

Wednesday 1 June 2011

30: Lloyd Finley

Lloyd Finley, a 34-year Toronto Telegram and Toronto Sun sports desk vet, died yesterday in a Mississauga nursing home following a "ravaging battle" with dementia.

Lloyd, a Korean War vet and a member of the Port Credit Freemasons, worked on the Tely sport desk for 17 years, but was not one of the original 62 Tely employees who launched the Sun on Nov. 1, 1971.

A former sports desk colleague says Lloyd had a wife and family and was concerned about job security when he decided not to become a Toronto Sun Day Oner. 

But when he did join the Sun, he was on the job for 17 years.

A memorial service will be held Friday at 11 a.m. in the First United Church, 151 Lakeshore Rd. W. in  Mississauga. In lieu of flowers, the family says donations may be made to the Alzheimer Society of Mississauga.

Memories of Lloyd Charles Finley can be emailed to TSF.

Worth repeating

Brian Campbell has left a new comment on your post "30 - Brian Whipp":

Wow, I am shocked and very sad to read this news. I have great memories of Brian and I owe him a huge debt of gratitude for basically giving me my career at the Edmonton Sun in 1981.

Nobody in their right mind would have hired someone with my credentials for IT work, but Brian saw something in me and gave me a huge break. I enjoyed employment with the Edmonton Sun for almost 19 years thanks to him.

He used to joke that I owed him big time since I was just a cab driver when he met me. He got a lot of "mileage" out of that joke for many years. He had a great sense of humour and was a true character.

If memory serves, he got a job offer at Wang Computers shortly after he hired me and he was off on a slightly different career path, but not for long. I think he landed back with the Sun chain in Calgary a year or so later.

I hadn't spoken to Brian in over a decade, but I discovered on Google last year that he was running a campground up north and I was hoping to catch up with him this summer. I now regret not emailing or calling him sooner. 

My condolences to his wife Kim. Brian will certainly be missed, he was one of a kind.

We get links

Corey Larocque, interim Niagara Falls Review city editor since March, has been named city editor.

The 14-year Review reporter replaces Joe Wallace, another Review vet who left to become a Post Media News Service copy editor in Hamilton.