back at the
good old days at the
few weeks back I wrote a column celebrating how open and
inclusive Canada is when it comes to welcoming new arrivals
from other counctries, and how proud I was to be Canadian.
And then I read a recent poll which indicated that one
in four Canadians think that we should institute the same
sort of Muslim ban being trumpeted in the States. (Pun
intended.) So perhaps were not as enlightened as I had
early day at the working at the Orléans Star were
some of the best years of my life. I was 28 years old
and had the world by the tail.
my tail was tucked firmly between my legs. I had just
returned to Ottawa from Montréal, where I was among
the first people to get laid off
from the Montreal Daily News, which was heading for oblivion.
ill-fated paper would be shut-down two months later after
18 months in existence, but thats another story
for another day.
had returned to Ottawa from Montréal in a midnight
move and was living in my parents basement. James
MacArthur was an old drinking buddy and he had just been
appointed editor of The Star.
not sure why, but he took a flyer on me and let me write
a guest column. It was a tongue-in-cheek piece, arguing
in favour of the abolition of Halloween.
It generated about a half-dozen letters to the editor
and so I stuck around.
were heady days back then. I was filled with piss and
vinegar and would write about whatever moved me at the
other day I was going through bound copies of The Star
from the early 90s and I started reading some of my earliest
of the secret to my success was the idea that I didnt
think anyone actually read them. Its very liberating
when you dont think anyone is reading what youre
favourite subjects were former Prime Minister Brian Coburn,
my girlfriend, then wife, then ex-wife and our children.
I used to tell people that my column was part political
commentary and part personal pageantry.
were a lot of great people work-ing at the paper back
then. Besides James, Denis Grignon was working in the
art department. Denis would go on to have a career as
a stand-up comic and CBC radio personality.
Brewerton was the publisher. He gave us free reign over
what we put in the paper. The sales reps were Linda Isham,
Jan McNeill, Lori Nash and Val Xavier, who would eventually
replace Gordon as publisher.
Wallace was the editor of the Express. He would go on
to have a lengthy career at the Pierre Elliot Trudeau
Airport in Montréal as communications manger.
Noonan, aka Dr. Love, was one of the full-time reporters.
was only there two months when we had the infamous Christmas
Party that will go down in infamy as the greatest Christmas
Party ever. James and I rented a limo with a few of the
other staff members. I believe we had a few drinks before
we got there and things got out of hand very quickly.
Things degenerated so badly that Gordon asked a bunch
of us to leave before desert was served.
those were the days.
after I got there, John OMeara was hired in the
John was a former editor and colum-nist of The Suburban
newspaper in Côte Saint-Luc. He was the editor of
the paper through the Quiet Revolution, the mail box bombings
and the rise of the Parti Québécois. He
was also one of the best newspaper men Ive ever
designing ads, he began writ-ing a column that ran next
to mine. We used to have some great discussions. Ill
never forget the time I was having trouble trying to finish
a column and was agonizing over using just the right words
and he said to me, You know what your problem is
Sherwin? Youre enamoured with your own prose.
was the best advice I ever got. In later years I would
work with some amazing people like former Express editor
Jean-Marc Trépanier, and later, Gerry Poulin, who
taught me everything I know about the history of Orléans.
Curran and I worked closely together for the better part
of six years and we have remained good friends to this
day. David Sali was a real beauty as well.
many ways they were the best years of my life. They will
stay with me forever.
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