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.

Saturday 29 October 2011

Strobel's 40

Mike Strobel's ode to the Toronto Sun's 40th.

Betty's it is

The third Toronto Sun 40th anniversary party?
Pssst, it's at Betty's, Tuesday, 7 p.m. to who knows when. 

Hoist a few to Doug Creighton and the 40th anniversary of that tabloid across the street.
It started with Tim Fryer and Woody McGee, two former veteran Sun desk aces, casualties of the Quebecor crunch, agreeing to meet for a few beers to mark the anniversary.

Then they decided to invite selected people to The Rim Pigs Ball via private Facebook  messages.

But the Facebook invite went viral and, at last count, 28 people have posted messages saying "see you at Betty's."

"John, I've had my thinking corrected since this party (originally just me and Timmy getting together for a beer) has gone viral," says Woody. "So feel free to mention the event on your blog."
Some Toronto Sun Family members who are going to the Westin party for former employees and the secretive Pier 4 party for current employees say they will also be swinging by Betty's.
Three parties, one clear message: Friendships made at the Sun over the decades are binding.  

Friday 28 October 2011

John Downing

Memories of the Toronto Sun - John Downing

Read Dunf's remarks like I was drinking cognac. What a wonderful thinker! No wonder he didn't survive against the Barbarians.

He mentions five or six of us taking Liz Braun to the House of Lancaster for lunch. It is burned into my memory. Liz sat there, stared at the strippers, and muttered "what am I doing here? I have five sisters." And I sunk low in the seat since this was the south end of my own neighbourhood.

Then we headed across the street to one of Doug Creighton's favourite restaurants, Latina's, had an enormous drunken lunch, and everyone stuck me (and the Sun) with the $200 bill.

Which reminds me of Barney Danson, who just died. Danson, a great veteran and defence minister, was Canada's guy in Boston. Then Creighton phoned me and said the Tories had fired him. I was to go to Boston and get the story.

I was too busy (stupid thinking on my part) playing editor, so I phoned Danson and arranged for him to dine with me at the Sun's cafeteria, called Winston's, the next time he was in town.

So Mary and I joined Barney and his bride there a few days later. He seemed to take a great interest in the wine list so I passed it to him and told him to order something nice. We ate modestly, no desserts etc., but the bill was over $400. I winced and paid without question.

The next day, I was there with Creighton in his place of honour, table number one, and said to the waiter who had served me earlier with the Dansons that I was surprised at the bill. He said Danson had ordered wine costing more than $200 a bottle. When I put in my expense account, I wrote a note opposite this dinner and said "you should never let Danson order the wine."

I was sitting in Paul Godfrey's office while he was yelling at me and signing a stack of expense accounts. He signed mine without reading it. I said I wished I had known years before that he didn't read my expense accounts before authorizing them. And I pointed out the Danson listing. Paul, who has never drank, was shocked. 

I doubt that would happen today, either the Braun lunch or the Danson dinner.  

One thing that we all slide by in our memories of the early days of fun, glory and heartache is that we were carrying on in the grand tradition of the Tely. Almost everyone of the Day Oners had also been at the Tely, where Creighton was one of the leaders in the final days.

It was almost as wacky as the Sun. I remember two Day Oners, Andy Donato and Glen Woodock, in the final Tely days cooking up a scheme to mortify me. They descended on my office when I was city editor and looking after entertainment and other departments in my spare time and said I had to decide on a huge portrait Donato had done of some entertainer.

It really was tired. Donato said he would quit if Woodcock didn't run it. Glen said it was terrible and ripped the drawing in two. Donato and Woodcock left my office, cursing each other. I didn't know wotinhell to do. As I leaned back in my chair and stared out the door, I could see Donato at his drawing board laughing like a maniac. Those bastards had set me up. So I Scotch-taped the drawing together, marched past Donato and told Woodcock to run it. So you figured it out, Glen said.

So for the survivors of the Tely, the Sun was an arduous extension of our newspaper lives. All of us were capable of doing a number of different tasks. And, believe it or not, even when the toilet paper was rationed by Art Holland, the pay wasn't. Ed Monteith looked at every penny on every expense account, so Paul Rimstead made sure that Ed never saw his expense account.

And there was a revolt, now forgotten, by 99% of the Day Oners, against Creighton's spending. Doug survived because he made the case, and it was the right one, that by dining with the elite in the Sun's cafeteria, Winston's, then one of the best and most famous restaurants in the land, Doug showed that his paper was not just a tabloid or a shopper's that was going to blow away, but we were here to stay to play with the big boys. 

Which we did for many glorious wacky years that were the highlight of every Day Oner. 

John Downing

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.

Sun memories

Updated 31/10/11
One more day to share Toronto Sun memories with TSF readers.

Memories of any length can be submitted by email until midnight Tuesday, Nov. 1, the 40th anniversary of the flagship tabloid and the sign-off of TSF as an active blog. 

What a nostalgic and heart-felt collection submitted to date by current and former employees representing various departments over the decades:

Three parties

One big day - the 40th anniversary of the Toronto Sun - and three separate parties.

One at the Westin for former employees; one at Pier 4 for current employees and a third that organizers have asked TSF not to publicize, but most will guess its location.

All the result of a media conglomerate that will no doubt share in the celebration with empty rhetoric about the flagship tabloid's achievements, while refusing to finance a party for all employees, past and present.

Rather than being one big happy family on Tuesday, as Doug Creighton would have guaranteed, as he did for the 20th, the celebration will be divided.

The spirit of Toronto Sun Family members is alive and well in wanting to gather for the milestone occasion, but shame on Quebecor on down.

Len Fortune

Memories of the Toronto Sun - Len Fortune

The following is a list of Sun people, living and dead, who influenced my performance, my progress and my humanity while at the little paper on King Street:

Doug Creighton
: Provider of the best work environment that anyone could possibly hope for: It really was paradise. I miss you Big Guy.

Peter Worthington: Canada's most prolific journalist and my idol..

Les Pyette: Made it possible for me to fulfill most of my dreams while at the Sun. I owe Lester the most.

Julie Kirsh: A true friend and a great lady, it was a privilege to have her in my corner.

Trudy Eagan: Her kindness and encouragement in the early years helped me find my way.

John Webb: The late John "Gentleman" Webb hired me and taught me tons about life and managing.

Andy Donato: I was always in awe of his genius and his warmth. 

Mike Simpson: A friend and a man of integrity (copy edited two of my books).

Joe Duffy: My life at the Sun would have been a lot less exciting without the presence of "Hollywood Joe".

Thomas Williams: This ex-Sun staffer made me laugh until my gut split - funny guy and great story teller.

Gary Latham: A man of great humility, I enjoyed his friendship.

Ed Moran: An extremely brilliant man who tolerated my antics for a number of years.

Gord Pick: One of the most talented people ever to leave the Sun. He was forced to the Calgary Sun.

J.D. MacFarlane: The journalism chair while I was at Ryerson and editorial director for a time at the Sun - he begrudgingly liked me.

Ed Monteith: A true man of print who bled Sun 75 red and who had my respect.

Peter O'Sullivan: One of the few who influenced my design style - a great tabloid editor.

Peter Brewster: His toughness and his ability to run a tight ship always impressed me.

Wayne Parrish: An incredibly talented journalist who always had honesty on his side.

Paul Henry: I loved the guy, but his tragic end raised my awareness of hiring too young. The bright lights of the big city knocked him out.

Barry Gray: Loyal amidst a tough run on the photo desk; an honorable guy to have covering your back. 

Jac Holland: Probably the most relaxed man on the planet, great human being. 

Wanda Goodwin: A great gal who it made it possible for me to do my first book. 

Veronica Henri: Proved me right by becoming a thoroughly professional and outstanding photographer. 

Stan Behal: The most charming of all the pixels gatherers, all-around good guy. 

Silvia Pecota: A visual genius whose passion and dedication to her art knew no equal.

Sandra Macklin
: The consummate news editor, she knew her stuff.

Howard MacGregor: The ideal desk person, he asked the right questions.

Paul Heming: "Fair dinkum" all the way good buddy.

Ben Grant: Benny and I jointly hold the Sun record for the using the headline "Brrrrrrrr" in weather spreads.

Valerie Gibson: Vivacious, vivacious, vivacious and chants like hell - that's a good thing.
Rita DeMontis: Beautiful woman, but way too generous  Thanks Rita.

George Gross: A lovable "kiddo" who was always on my side, even when he wasn't.

Linda Leatherdale: The world's first multi-tasker: Along with being my personal chauffeur (the Oakville run), Linda managed a business section, busted out a daily column, did TV spots, ran seminars, looked after a family and still found time to party . . . WOW!

Tim Peckham: A talented Newfoundlander who I should have listened to more.

Jim Thomson: Jim edited all of my over-the-top e-mails to my overlords. I'm forever thankful.

Gord Walsh: Gord's in my dreams a lot lately - I don't know why; any old how, he is/was a straight-talking guy all the way.

Al Parker: A journalist with a big heart; I always appreciated Al's "forgive me" hugs.

Jim Jennings: To get me out of his beard, Jim appointed me managing editor of the Baby Suns (Durham, Hamilton, York and Brampton ) giving me chance to show how a real tabloid gets done. It was appreciated.

Paul Godfrey and Mike Strobel: Two lovable guys who, I know, are still trying to find my missing stock options from the Great Quebecor sale.

The Stapley Brothers
(Gord and Chuck): Outstanding work ethic and fun guys to be with.

Nancy Stewart: Beautiful, stylish, gracious, kind and good with a knife, Pez and badges.
Greg Viens: I owe my career to Greg - he told me about a job opportunity at the Sun way back in the '70s.

Larry Craig: Pressroom superintendent and my production confidant.

Patrick McCormick: My partner-in-crime for a spell before his departure to 1 Yonge St. 

Shiela Chidley, who endured my renditions of "Sheila, Sheila, oh my little Sheila, her name drives me insane" which I sung to her almost daily; always in a different key and always with different words.  

Oh! I almost forgot the Rimmer (Paul Rimstead) and Don Ramsay.

Paul's early words, which captivated Toronto in the '70s, inspired me to write simple.

And from Don, I developed a phobia of microfiche.

All the best to the present staff at the Toronto Sun, I wish you many successes and a happy 40th.

And to the past staff, I hope your memories of the Sun are as precious as mine. 

That's all folks. Peace and wellness to all.

Love Lenny


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.

Thursday 27 October 2011

Les Pyette

Memories of the Toronto Sun - Les Pyette

The first day on the job at the upstart Toronto Sun was July 9, 1974. Believe it was election  day and Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau won in a landslide.

I sat on the rim, but was hired by Ed Monteith to be the paper’s new city editor. Problem was, Ed had yet to tell City Editor Ken Robertson that I was the new kid on the block.

Wearing clogs to give me more height and curls dangling past my shirt’s collar, I tried to lay out my first tabloid page.

I had come from the Soo Star, Belvidere Daily Republican and most recently the Windsor Star, all broadsheets. Yikes!!! Was out of my depth, but Ed and others, I believe Bob McMillan was in the slot, were all very patient with me and the next day I was on the  city desk, directing seven reporters and four photographers.

It was the old Eclipse building on King St. West. What a hoot. We watched the CN Tower being built. Every day, Ed would instruct me to get a picture and story on the thing.

One day I got bored and a fellow who called himself the Amazing Randi, an escape artist, came by the office to drum up some publicity for his show. I convinced him to lock himself in a safe and escape. Problem was, he got in the safe but couldn’t get out. He almost died and finally I called the fire department and they, with axe a-flailing, broke open the safe and the Amazing Randi rolled out.

It was a slow news day and the tower wasn’t going anywhere. Ed came in later in the day to put out the paper - he was a very solid newspaperman - and asked what was going on. At first, he was concerned a fellow had almost died in the company safe. I was nervous, my career at the Sun cut short by a Houdini wannabe? But Ed ran with the pictures and story of the drama in the Sun newsroom.

Those were the good old days. The Sun was rising and we were a part of it. I was 29, wet behind the ears, had my first of several families, having moved from a secure job at the Windsor Star to the Little Paper that was going to grow.

We made a lot of mistakes in the coming 29 years, but we enjoyed a tremendous amount of success too . . . travelling the world with the legendary Doug Creighton, No. 1 newspaper publisher; playing softball catch with Peter Worthington as we spent some beautiful off-hours while helping get the Ottawa Sun off the ground in 1988; being part of what Creighton called the A Team, himself, Bob Jelenic, Tom MacMillan and myself, although there were a lot more members on that team that started the Calgary Sun in 1980, John Webb, Hartley Steward, George Gross, Trudy Eagan, Lynn Carpenter. I will never forget carrying Trudy’s luggage through the Calgary airport, her hands ravished by arthritis and her making me go home at night when the party was just getting going.

My six years in the old Toronto Sun newsroom before Creighton shipped me to Calgary for the first time in 1980 were probably my most fun. I wasn't much of a city editor and couldn't begin to compare myself to Monteith, but when they let me get hold of the front page in the late 70s I had a ball. 

With the Sun growing in the early 70s, Monteith got orders to hire more reporters and editors. Believe Ron Base and Brian Vallee were among the first to storm out of Windsor and step into the brights lights of Toronto. 

Monteith hired me at the Imperial Room of the Royal York Hotel. It was a memorable night, Ed telling Toronto Telegram stories. Bruce Blackadar, Mark Bonokoski, Bob Burt, Benny Grant, Lloyd Kemp and others were quick to head east on the 401 from Windsor to Toronto, thus someone coined the Windsor Mafia. 

There were others from Windsor, but my memory from those days can sometimes be a bit foggy, if you get the drift. We were a special group, very tight-knit in Windsor and eager to help each other in the Big Smoke. 

I remember bringing Base and Blackadar home to my apartment at Islington and Dixon. We had been out solving the world's problems, only thing was I had a wife and three little kids waiting up for me. She was not amused. Not sure where the fellows slept but they were gone in the morning.

Other memories: The long nights at Paul Rimstead's backyard pool; the many dinners with Creighton; playoff softball and hockey with the Sun teams; Talk about characters! The Tonks brothers, Andy Donato, Mark Bonokoski behind the dish; the Star's Marty Goodman trying to hire me one night in Mississauga, not so much to work in his newsroom but to play shortstop for him. Marty was a heck of good pitcher.

And hanging out with MacMillan, Creighton, Steward and Jelenic in Calgary and Las Vegas; in London, England, a couple of times trying to start a television daily newspaper; representing Creighton in Taiwan, Japan, South Africa and England. I guess it was his way of rewarding me - or his way of getting me out of the office.

In 1984 in Calgary, Doug came to my house and said I had to return to Toronto to help Steward with the Toronto Sun. Once again, no one told Monteith, the foundation of the Sun newsroom, that I was coming to be Executive Editor, which was a great nine-year gig.

Ed and I worked out the details and I grew up a lot under his guidance.

In 1992, I went upstairs to help Paul Godfrey after a great run in the newsroom. Two years later, Paul shipped me back to Calgary where we had a ball helping to grow the Calgary Sun into a loud voice in the West.

In Calgary, it was riding horses and producing more children - hey, it's cold out there - and catching a wave with the ever-improving western economy. It was a good fit for me and I made ever-lasting friendships with the Calgary business community.

The London Free Press had never experienced a wacko tabloid editor, but they got one in 2000. The world was supposed to end, but we drank champagne in London the night the clock struck 12 on the millennium.

I will never forget the Toronto Sun atrium and the thunderous applause I received when I returned for the third time in May of 2001. Sadly, a lot of hard slogging had taken its toll and I was running out of gas, but what a ride, 29 years working at the Sun.

It was never really a job until the corners had to be cut, people had to be released, downsized. That was no fun . . . a nightmare for all.

I loved the old Sun. Who would have thunk that kid sportswriter from the Soo would some day actually end up publishing the Toronto Sun, the Calgary Sun, the London Free Press and later on, the National Post. 

What a trip.

The only sadness, as I wrestle with the fact that I am now 66, is that along the way we lost Sun colleagues, some of them very close friends. 

I miss talking boxing with Jerry Gladman and others who have passed on way too early, but hardly a day goes by that I don't think of little Jimmy Yates. He certainly was one of my favourites.

But as I used to say when we won a battle against the Star or the Globe, or when we got our butts soundly booted, Onward and Upward.
London, ON

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.