Saturday, 12 March 2016

Memories of 333

Toronto Sun employees are packing their belongings for the move to Postmedia on March 25, ending 40-plus years of newspapering at 333 King St. E.

Sun employees moved from the Eclipse building into their new digs in May of 1975. At its peak, 333 had six floors of Sun employees, its own presses, a cafeteria and photo studio.

Current and former Toronto Sun employees who worked at 333 are invited to share their memories.

From Facebook

Errol Nazareth: I can't believe The Sun is moving out of 333. So many memories of working there are flooding back. I have to say this: Regardless what folks think of the paper - and I have criticized its stance on many issues many times - I was treated with complete respect when I worked there.

When Les Pyette hired me in the early 90s - thanks, Tom Godfrey - I was given an amazing opportunity ~ working as a general assignment reporter on weekends and writing what many have told me is that 'legendary Friday write about any artist I wanted and not once was I censored. And every news reporter I worked with was always ready to help me with a story if I needed it.

After being laid off, John Kryk brought me back to write the Friday column. And when I was desperately looking for work about 5 years back, Glen Garnett reached out to me and told me QMI Agency was looking for a writer.

I pass by 333 every day and it's going to take a while for the news to sink in. (Received) a fun plaque they gave me when I left. Jim Slotek...i'm looking at you!

Claire Bickley: I grew up in that newsroom, made lifelong friends and was blessed with colleagues and mentors who left an indelible mark in my life: Jeanie MacFarlane was my coach and rock from the day I began. It was my great, great fortune to work with Kathy Brooks. Before Jean Houghton I knew how to swear but not with style. Jerry Gladman, my extraordinary friend, I still hear your voice in my head.

I will always consider those years, those people and all of those adventures among the best years of my life. To every member of our Toronto Sun Family, every best wish on your path.

Ian Harvey: That's what I miss the most. I grew up there. I arrived as a 23 year old... got married, had kids, got divorced. The one constant were the people at 333. We fought, we argued, we laughed we partied and we worked and played hard.It was a wonderful time to be in the business. The sky seemed no limit. We went into the boards hard against the competition. We revelled in being the underdog.

How sad this industry has become but the bond between us remains.
Someone oughta study it for a Rotman School of Business case study.
I remember when Teachers or some other bankers bought into the paper, one of the things they said was they placed a value on the culture.

Pity that the bean counters eventually pissed that value away. 

John Fracassi: At my first job in the 1970s, i saw the end of the old fashioned presses and the introduction of the compugraphic. It was the end of one era. The sale of the Sun and the massive layoffs that ensued, was the end of another era.

This is sad because those who will continue this business of newspaper work will never experience the exhilaration, the excitement, the thrills, the fighting, the arguing, the ingenuity displayed by the people who wrote all those stories, took all those photos, put out all those wonderful newspapers (and sometimes scratching our heads wondering how we did it). 

We mark the end of an era. i am happy i was privileged to be there and experience it.


  1. John:

    I've enjoyed, with some sadness, your (Facebook) posts about the demise of the Sun newsroom at 333 King St. E.

    I was wondering if there would be a chance to visit the building and the newsroom before it gets shut down. Do we have a specific date yet?

    On my list of memories was the police desk, where I started as a staffer in April 1978.

    I helped keep us current to the changes in radio technology, putting up 12 single channel radios so we could keep up with a new system being used by metro police. As new frequencies were added to metro ambulance, and other fire and EMS services around the GTA, we added them to the growing collection of scanners and monitors on the police desk.

    The constant chatter coming from the area was hard to take to the average reporter, and I'm sure some were intimidated trying to understand what was happening if they happened to be assigned to cover the desk temporarily.

    A couple of months into the job, I was working the 10 to 5 shift, and since I lived in Brampton at the time, decided to leave home early and beat the traffic into the city. I was sitting at the desk just before 8 a.m. When a call came over the provincial frequency to a Toronto ambulance at Pearson Airport. The tone of the dispatchers voice and his cryptic message to "stage" at the Post Office Rd. gate to the tarmac. I jumped up, turned up the volume in time to hear the report of a DC8 crash into the Etobicoke Creek ravine.

    I confirmed the call with the supervisor at Metro Ambulance radio room, and started activating our staff. First call was to the closest photographer, Barrie Gray, who lived in Etobicoke, and the second to police reporter Cal Millar. A city editor was next on the list. I kept notes on what I could garner from the radios, and eventually we were well into working the story.

    Thinking back, if I had not opted for going in early that day, I would have been driving by the airport just as the event would have been unfolding. I didn't get to the scene of the crash until the two days later.

    I did get a nice letter from J D MacFarlane, thanking me for being on the ball, and getting everyone rolling on a big story.

    I remember taking film from a freelance news story into the new building and fancy darkroom. All that has gone by the wayside now.

    Over the years, I kept the Sun police desk up to date on new radio systems and frequencies added to emergency services in Toronto and the GTA. I even convinced the Sun to buy a trunking radio similar to a new system being used by Toronto Ambulance so we never missed a call, if you were listening.

    Bill Sandford

    “Newsroom coffee made me what I am today: Bitter with a black heart.”

    1. Looks like March 25, Bill. They would probably allow you upstairs for a final visit.

  2. Bruce Borland on Facebook:

    The Toronto Sun, I hear, will leave the King Street location for the last time on Thursday.

    Thank you Paul Godfrey for destroying what so many worked so hard to build.

    Whyinhell did anyone open the door to him and induct him into the Journalism Hall of Game?

    My "pound of flesh" will be when I see him enter some form of bankruptcy...that is if he does not find another sucker to bail him out.

    I have always wondered why no one ever followed his money.

    Think about this, Metro Chairman while the Toronto Sun was owned by Cadilac Fairview people, a major developer at the time.

    Then, when he leaves the city, he is hired as publisher of, you guessed it, The Sun.
    May be nothing there, but, if there are any real journalists left?

    From a warehouse to 3 storey building, then to 6, and, now, I do hope someone is left to turn out the lights.

    It is like having a baby, watching that baby grow into a fine being, then. something evil sets in and death is near.
    Those who were there from the beginning, for the birth, watch as the evil finally consumes the masterpiece.

    It would have been nice to be invited for one last look.

    Creighton, Worthington, Hunt, thank the gods you are no longer here to see this.