Tag Archives: anniversaries

Quebec Chronicle-Telegraph turns 250

The Quebec Chronicle-Telegraph, whose claim to fame is billing itself as North America’s oldest newspaper (it predates The Gazette by 14 years), turns 250 years old on Saturday.

The English-language weekly in the provincial capital almost didn’t make it this far. In 2010, it almost folded, going online-only and raising both subscription and advertising prices while adopting a hard-line religious editorial line that turned many away. The paper was sold to a new owner who brought back the print paper and has been keeping it going since.

Since 250 is a pretty big deal, the paper has been going all out drawing attention to itself and the anniversary, and the media have taken notice. Here is a sample of the media coverage given to it:

The paper itself is keeping a running list on its website, and has a Storify of tweets and links.

Also worth delving into:

Happy birthday, QCT.

The Journal de Montréal lockout, five years later

This entry has been corrected. See below.

Rue Frontenac's newsroom in 2011

Rue Frontenac’s newsroom in 2011

It was early in the morning on Saturday, Jan 24, 2009, when the Journal de Montréal changed forever. After an agreement with its union not to engage in work disruptions expired, management locked out all 253 unionized employees, starting a battle that would last more than two years.

The union, knowing this was coming, simultaneously launched a new website called Rue Frontenac, in which locked-out journalists would continue doing their jobs, showing readers that it’s the journalists, not the logo, that really matters.

The solidarity among locked-out workers was impressive, as was their dedication to their craft. But the union’s hefty strike fund kept their income going, and that wasn’t going to last forever.

When it all ended in 2011, the victory went more to the Journal than to the workers. The deal, approved during a heated meeting of the union’s members, meant only a quarter of those locked-out would be re-hired. The rest would split a $20-million severance package.

The deal allowed Rue Frontenac to stay alive, spun off from the union into an independent entity. It was eventually sold, but the staff quickly quit and pulled all their content in protest after learning the identity of someone connected to the new owner and finding that they would pose a threat to their journalistic integrity. The pulled content was eventually posted to a new archival website. RueFrontenac.com now simply redirects to another website owned by that new owner, La Métropole.

Where are they now?

The union treated “253” as a magical number throughout the lockout, but the reality was it was a lot more complicated than that. The employees consisted of people from various departments, some were part-time, some temporary, some on leave for various reasons. I don’t have a list of those 253 people, nor the time to contact them all, but I was curious where the journalists ended up five years later (and more than two years after Rue Frontenac ended).

Of all the journalists that were locked out of the Journal, only one two news reporters — Daniel Renaud and Isabelle Maher — returned after the lockout. (Other departments like sports and photo had more people come back.) The conflict had become so bitter, and the journalists so disgusted with its resolution, that the reaction to the offer to come back was more “over my dead body” than “yes please”.

And Renaud didn’t last long. He now works for La Presse.

The result was that even though the lockout was started so that the Journal could lay off staff, and even though the resolution meant much of that staff wouldn’t come back, the end result is that the paper had to actually start hiring journalists.

What about the rest? Many are still in journalism, and some have moved on to other things. Here’s a partial list, some based off of this list that Michel Rousseau put together for Trente in 2012:

Still at the Journal de Montréal

La Presse (Gesca) was the biggest beneficiary of Rue Frontenac talent:


Le Devoir


TC Media

Cogeco Nouvelles

Other media


Public relations or other communications media


  • Richard Bousquet, lecturer at UQAM
  • Jean-Guy Fugère, math teacher

Other non-media jobs

  • Mélanie Brisson, IT coordinator, city of Sainte-Julie
  • Jérôme Dussault, crown prosecutor
  • Dominic Fugère, general manager of the Grand Prix de Trois-Rivières (also contributes to RDS)
  • Guy Madore, real estate
  • Noée Murchison, Office des personnes handicapées du Québec


  • Luc Laforce
  • François Robert
  • Michel Sénécal


  • Pablo Durand

Some of these could easily be outdated, incorrect, miscategorized or incomplete. And I’m missing a bunch of names. Let me know of any corrections below or by email.

CORRECTION: An earlier version of this post said that Daniel Renaud was the only news reporter to go back to the Journal de Montréal. Isabelle Maher also returned to the paper after the lockout. I’ve also updated titles and added names based on people’s suggestions.

Métro turns 10

March 1 marked the 10th anniversary of free daily newspapers in Montreal. It was 10 years ago that a partnership between Montreal-based Transcontinental and Swedish-based Metro International SA launched Métro in Montreal, replicating in French what they had done in English in Toronto the previous year.

Eight-page special issue in Tuesday's Métro

To celebrate the anniversary, Tuesday’s edition of Métro had an eight-page special insert – there’s also a website with the same content – about itself. Included in this are:

Plus the video, seen above, that makes the 10th anniversary of a newspaper seem like a Steven Seagal movie.

Aside from that, the press release includes a PDF of profiles of newsroom employees, who look a heck of a lot younger than the people in my newsroom.

Another anniversary coming

It was only days after Métro’s first appearance that Quebecor launched a competing free daily. Montréal Métropolitain had its first edition on March 12, 2001, and it would later be renamed 24 Heures.

From the beginning, that newspaper was distributed by hand outside metro stations (Quebecor fought but later lost a court challenge to Métro’s monopoly inside the metro – and recently outbid Métro for that same exclusive distribution right). Its readership numbers have always trailed Métro’s, but the gap has narrowed in recent years, and the distribution agreement with the STM could see 24 Heures finally pull ahead.

I haven’t seen any plans yet from 24 Heures to mark its anniversary.

UPDATE (April 5): There was an anniversary paper on March 28 with a small special insert, accompanied by a press release.

Can they last?

Looking back at some archives from 2001, it seemed clear that a lot of analysts didn’t hold out much hope for these papers. The consensus seemed to be that Montreal’s francophone market could maybe support one free daily like this, but not two.

It’s clear, 10 years later, that not only have both survived, but they’ve flourished, perhaps largely because of the fierce competition from each other. Both greatly increased the amount of original reporting by hiring more journalists (though 24 Heures’s decision to do so is seen in a somewhat negative light because the work of those journalists was then used to feed the locked-out Journal de Montréal). Both are now thicker and have more news than they did 10 years ago, while the paid papers are getting thinner in both size and content.

Expansion to Quebec City?

Also this week, Metro Canada announced that it would launch in two new markets: Winnipeg and London, Ont., bringing their distribution to nine cities.

With the addition of these two, Metro now serves nine of Canada’s 13 most populous metropolitan areas. Of the four it doesn’t serve, three are in southern Ontario (Hamilton, Kitchener, St. Catharines), between Toronto and London. The fourth, Number 7 on the overall list, is Quebec City.

Barring any unusual impediments unique to that area, expansion to Quebec City makes sense. There are no free dailies serving the city, leaving all the readership to Le Soleil and the Journal de Québec. And because there’s already a Métro in Montreal, much of the content – and even the design – could be shared between the two papers. Métro would only need to hire some local reporters and editors and arrange for distribution.

For that matter, it might be worth looking at whether it’s worth starting up an English version in Montreal. A quick calculation shows the Montreal anglo market to be about 750,000, which is about the same as Quebec City and Winnipeg and larger than London and Halifax.

If there’s an argument against it, it’s certainly not a question of numbers. Perhaps English Montrealers are already picking up the French Métro, or they’re too concentrated in the West Island where there isn’t any metro service. Or maybe there’s a worry about people getting confused seeing two newspapers that look alike. Or maybe there’s worry that there could be political fallout if another English newspaper were to launch in Quebec.

Or maybe they just haven’t gotten around to it yet. Transcontinental* had the option of launching an English Montreal paper back in 2001, but hadn’t made plans to do so.

*Transcontinental is the major partner in Montreal’s Métro, while Torstar is the major partner in the seven editions west of here, including the new ones announced this week. Both companies are co-owners of Metro Halifax.

UPDATE: Bill McDonald, president of Metro (English) Canada, says that “at this point, we have no specific plans for future expansion.  However, I can assure you we are not done yet.”


Don McGowan (left) and Bill Haugland with their archival selves

CFCF-12, or CTV Montreal as it prefers to call itself now, will be turning 50 years old on Jan. 20. It was on Jan. 20, 1961 – the same day as John F. Kennedy’s inauguration – that the station first went on the air (they even have the video of the first broadcast), and though it has changed owners, studios, programming and staff since then, it has the same call letters, the same channel (at least until the digital transition later this year) and the same position as Montreal’s top English-language television station.

As part of the anniversary, the station is devoting most of its 6pm newscast on Jan. 20 to an anniversary look back, with invites like long-time personalities Don McGowan, Bill Haugland and Dick Irvin. Jed Kahane, the station’s news and public affairs director, also tells me a special song from comedy duo Bowser and Blue will be presented (those who remember the Terry DiMonte-hosted consumer affairs show Fighting Back know that it gave the duo a lot of exposure during the 90s).

The anniversary show will repeat at noon on Jan. 21.

Those who can’t wait until then can see some stuff they’ve already put online, including minute-long vignettes they’ve been putting together for each day leading up to the anniversary.

Among the things online:

“Starting the 17th, we’ll also have extra content and interviews at noon and 6 relating to the anniversary, Montreal history, how our industry has changed, etc.”, Kahane wrote me in an email shortly before heading for the ski slopes.

Mutsumi Takahashi and the fashions of the day in a 1990 episode of Park Avenue Metro

Take a step back in time

I was going to devote the second half of this post to a suggestion that CFCF take advantage of those vast archives and bring back more than just 10-second clips. I was going to say that they should put full episodes of these beloved (and, by today’s youth, unknown) shows online so we can watch them.

Turns out they’ve done exactly that. From the “Flashback” section, you can watch one full episode from a dozen entertainment and current affairs shows. You can see:

This is great stuff (well, mostly great, some of it is kind of dull by today’s standards). I hope it doesn’t stop here, and they can wrestle more stuff out of the archives to be enjoyed again.

UPDATE (Jan. 19): They have added more stuff, including:

It would be fun, I think, to air some of this stuff again too. Perhaps overnight, or during the weekend, when there isn’t much to watch anyway but people who have nothing better to watch can see the shows or record them using their VCRs and DVRs.

Why can’t we write new history?

Watching some of these past shows, the prevailing thought in my head is: Why aren’t shows like this being produced anymore? Why are we seeing American programming in prime-time, NFL football games on Sundays and celebrity gossip shows from 7 to 8 pm weekdays on CTV?

I realize that, in a 500-channel universe, local television isn’t the destination it used to be. But all that tells me is that CFCF should be striving to increase its local programming, rather than airing reruns we can find online or see on those cable channels.

I realize that local television stations don’t have the kind of budgets they did back then and can’t hire the same staff they had in the 60s and 70s. But with new technology, it’s cheaper than ever to produce good-quality video. If YouTube has shown us anything, people can produce shows all by themselves (though realistically it would take at least one or two more people to produce something of any quality).

I’m not eager to see a return of Mr. Chips or poorly-lit local wrestling shows. And I don’t think it’s realistic to expect local programming that rivals what’s being produced by major U.S. networks or nationally out of Toronto.

But surely there’s something between the big-budget national shows and no-budget cable access.

At some point next year, Global Montreal will be bringing back its local morning show, thanks to a promise Shaw had to make in order to buy the TV network. And though it looks cheap as hell, Global does have a half-hour local interview program.

CFCF-12, the leader among anglo Montreal stations, has only its newscasts, as great as they are. Its morning programming consists entirely of a news ticker that runs at the bottom of the screen during Canada AM. Current affairs, arts and entertainment, sports, interviews and everything else has to fit into those newscast hours.

Of the shows the station has put online, there are three I’d like to see as inspiration for new ones. Park Avenue Metro, though a silly name, was a show that allowed reporters to spend more than three minutes looking at an issue. Occasionally longer reports will air during newscasts (those are the ones that are heavily advertised beforehand). But it doesn’t happen with enough regularity.

It’s Your Move was a silly little game show with pretty cheap prizes, but I found it fun to watch, and it’s nice to see people from our community on television.

And the show with Pierre Lalonde showed something that local television could really use: live musical performances. I can’t remember the last time I saw a musical artist or band perform a complete song live on CFCF. If local college radio stations can setup a studio and bring in bands to perform live, why can’t our highest-rated local TV station do the same?

Accuse me of being a dreamer of things impractical, but I think that, in the long run, the future of local television can only be local television.

Happy anniversary, CFCF-12. Here’s hoping for 50 more years, and that the second half-century will bring memories as rich as the first.

CFCF-12’s 50th anniversary show airs Jan. 20 at 6pm and Jan. 21 at noon.

UPDATE (Jan. 15): Bill Brownstein has a long feature in Saturday’s Gazette about the station and its anniversary. In addition to quotes from old-timers Haugland, McGowan and Irvin, it includes this bit about the newscast’s ratings:

In fall 2010, BBM ratings indicate that 202,300 viewers took in CTV Montreal’s 6 to 7 p.m. weekday newscast, as opposed to 32,300 who caught the local CBC-TV package from 5 to 6:30 p.m. and 6,900 who tuned into Global here from 6 to 6:30 p.m.

For the math-challenged, that’s 84% of this share to one station.

Richard Therrien, the TV columnist for Quebec City’s Le Soleil, also notes CFCF’s anniversary. As does The Suburban’s Mike Cohen and Team 990 host Mitch Melnick.

From a comment below, a link to Google’s newspaper archive of a special section of The Gazette devoted to CFCF’s launch on Jan. 20, 1961. Similarly, here’s an article from Mike Boone on the station’s 25th anniversary in 1986.

UPDATE (Jan. 19): The blooper reel is, sadly, only about three minutes long. But there’s also a report from Annie DeMelt on the “lighter side” of news.

The Mirror at 25

The Mirror’s 25th anniversary issue is on the stands now. Aside from the usual weekly features, it includes a pullout with a look back at the first quarter century of the paper’s existence, including a selection of covers, the various logos and a timeline.

As part of its multi-page collage, the paper has the first Best of Montreal poll, the first Sasha column, the first Rant Line, as well as a list of contributors over 25 years (one that wasn’t well edited – there are quite a few repeats) and a bunch of those under-the-logo taglines.

It’s unfortunate that more of an effort wasn’t made to bring those early stories and columns online – many of them are unreadable in the anniversary issue. Fortunately, the Mirror has among the most ancient online archives of Montreal media, going back all the way to 1997, so more than half of its history is now online – in a format that seems to have changed little in 13 years.

The anniversary got a bit of attention, from Radio-Canada and Montreal City Weblog, the latter pointing out that it was the first alt weekly in Montreal, predating Voir by about a year. (Which I guess means we should expect a Voir 25th anniversary special in 2011.)

Bon anniversaire, Le Devoir

The first issue of Le Devoir, Jan. 10, 1910

100 years ago today, Henri Bourassa published the first issue of a newspaper he somewhat arrogantly called Le Devoir. It was a different time then, both in terms of technology (there was no concept of desktop publishing as there is now) and in terms of politics (the paper was nationalist, but that meant they wanted independence from London, not Ottawa).

Despite nearly failing many times (see a full chronology and another piece focusing on finances), the paper survives. And it’s celebrating. It has an entire section on its website devoted to 100th anniversary stories, and has put its special commemorative magazine online for free in “virtual paper” and PDF formats.

They’re planning on milking this for the entire calendar year, with special events and publications. It starts today, when they’re inviting readers to meet the paper’s artisans at Marché Bonsecours, from 10am to 1pm. There will also be a special presentation and a commemorative envelope (they do those?) issued to honour the anniversary.

Le Devoir isn’t the only one celebrating. Among the celebrations from other media:

Allow me to add on: Happy anniversary. Try to stay out of bankruptcy for another century.

The Decarie Canal & Car Wash: 20 years later

Coolopolis reminds us of an anniversary anyone over 30 remembers vividly: July 14, 1987. On one hand, Tim Raines of the Montreal Expos was named the MVP of the Major-League Baseball All-Star game. On the other hand, overnight rainfall was measured not in millimetres but in feet, and the Decarie Expressway became so flooded cars had to be abandoned in place.

CTV’s Rob Lurie has a lookback at the Flood of ’87 with some memorable (and to us young’uns, unbelievable) pictures like this one:

The Flood of ‘87

For more reminiscing, check out Radio-Canada’s archives. (Wow, did people really dress like that?)