In 1844, George Brown, a 25-year-old who had recently arrived from Scotland via New York, started a newspaper called The Globe. That first edition comprised a single sheet, folded to make four pages, with six columns of text. Though the look of the paper has changed, the principles have not.
The future father of Confederation wrote editorials that “were carefully considered [and] exhaustively supported,” according to biographer J.M.S. Careless, expressing his “burning sense of justice,” embodied in a quote from an 18th-century political critic pseudonymously named Junius: “The subject who is truly loyal to the Chief Magistrate will neither advise nor submit to arbitrary measures.” That quote remains on the editorial page to this day.
So how have The Globe and Canada fared in their journey together? We hope to provide an answer, with a series of essays from current and former Globe writers that look at how this newspaper has shaped and been shaped by Canada through their shared history.
The essays will explore important historical events, as well as major issues and trends. Our journalists will show how, at times, The Globe led the debate on the future of Canada. (It was not then-Justice Minister Pierre Trudeau, but a Globe editorial, that coined the phrase “the state has no place in the bedrooms of the nation,” in regard to the legalization of homosexual acts, a reform The Globe championed.) We will also chronicle acts of abuse toward vulnerable people and groups that this newspaper sometimes ignored or even approved of.
Political columnist John Ibbitson will be the guiding editor, working with deputy editor Sinclair Stewart and a panel of senior editors and writers to develop and flesh out the themes and essays. In a note to staff this month, Mr. Ibbitson said the goal “is to produce a rich, nuanced, responsible accounting of our paper’s contribution to the life of our nation, taking pride in what we have accomplished together while resolving to learn from our mistakes, and looking forward with confidence as a country and as a newspaper.”
“Some of the essays will be event-driven,” he wrote. “How The Globe covered the Quiet Revolution and/or sovereignty referendums, for example. Others will be issue-driven: how The Globe covered residential schools and other Indigenous issues; how The Globe viewed immigration and racial minorities, from the turning away of the St. Louis to the Vietnamese boat people. None of the essays will be apologies, but all of them will look honestly at how we did our job – how we sometimes excelled and sometimes fell short, as a paper and as a country.”
The essays will begin in the fall of 2023, and the plan is to collect them into a book to be published in the fall of 2024, to mark The Globe’s 180th anniversary.
The writers will be helped by Nancy Janovicek, a professor of history at the University of Calgary who has agreed to serve as historical consultant on the project. Prof. Janovicek researches and teaches Canadian history, with a particular emphasis on social and cultural movements.
We very much want to hear your ideas about the subjects or the writers you would like to read. Even a passing thought will be welcomed. Please e-mail your suggestions to me at email@example.com within the next two weeks.