Sunday 16 October 2011

Nancy Stewart

Nancy on the job in 1974
Memories of the Toronto Sun - Nancy Stewart

It was 1973 and things were happening in Toronto. I was in second year at McMaster University, working between studies as a typesetter for The Silhouette, the university's weekly newspaper, and all the buzz was about the new upstart, the Toronto Sun.

The rumour was they were looking for summer staff to hire in their composing room, which was run by the handsome and knowledgeable (and fun-loving) John Webb.

How could I not apply for a summer job?

After nervously driving downtown to the old Eclipse Building, anticipating a strict interview, I was immediately set at ease when Mr. Webb cringed at the sound of "Mr." and said, "please, call me John", thus setting the tone for a 37-year exciting career at the Sun.

And they were terrific years. The composing room staff were hard-working, hard-playing, stretching long days to longer nights whenever necessary to "put the paper to bed." 

It was where it all came together, pictures, stories, advertising, miraculously formed into pages as we slung our knives around expertly to "cut and paste" pics and type onto our art boards.

Editors assigned to reading the pages dodged a few knives in those days (long before the digital age) and knew not to get too close for fear of accidentally losing a finger.

And after a long shift, we joined the editorial staff for a beer or two at the old "Spade" hotel, our earliest haunt. We worked together well.

The Sun was indeed a hard-working family and we were rewarded for loyalty.

So many memorable times celebrating the accomplishments of all departments: As we passed the 100,000 circulation mark, the 200,000 mark and then the 300,000 mark. The Sun grew and so did our brand new building, from three floors to six, to expansion along the whole block.

I still have all the goodies that were dished out to thank employees - commemorative plates, T-shirts, hats, gym bags, clocks, mugs and they are still treasures to me.

On the Sun's 20th Anniversary, we were treated with rings and watches, parties and pictures. Not to mention one huge party at the SkyDome for the entire Sun staff.

And, of course, we've since moved on to a complete digital world in composing the newspaper, changes that can make or break a person, but they too were "interesting times"  that propelled us into the 21st century.

But it was the qualities of those early days that stayed with us, made us all want to do a good job to make that deadline no matter what. To make a good impression and honour the job that was given us.

We were treated like gold and we gave like gold. 

I became ad production manager in 1995 until retirement in 2010. I was one of the lucky ones and enjoyed three sabbaticals, travelling for the duration of each one. First to South-East Asia, second to Mexico and the third sabbatical was relaxing in Florida and cruising through the Bahamas.

I've never known of any other company that gave such sabbaticals. What a dream come true.

It was a good, fortunate choice that I made way back then, lasting for 37 years, and all those friendships and memories still make me smile.

Thank you Toronto Sun!

Nancy Stewart (retired)
Toronto Sun 1973-2010

The Toronto Sun composing room in 1991, a thriving and appreciated department

If you are a Day Oner or 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 in the next few weeks, email TSF.

We want to give everyone the opportunity to mark the 40th.

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