Prologue

 

It was 4 p.m. on Sept. 25, 1979.

Art Dubois stood for a moment amongst the many reporters’ desks in the Newsroom of the 108-year-old Montreal Globe daily newspaper. His face was grave. He had terrible news for the numerous journalists who had put the paper’s last of three daily editions  to bed about an hour ago. It was known as “the Final.”

Dubois was the Publisher. He did not normally appear in this large room on the third floor which housed about 40 or 50 old-style metal desks left over from the pre-computer days of clanking typewriters and youngish men answering to the call of “copy!” The veteran reporters were a little puzzled by this appearance and then amazed by what the Publisher did next.

At labour-beat reporter Lizzy Newman’s vacant desk, Dubois cleared the top of the usual abundant clutter, climbed up onto her chair and then stepped onto the desktop where he stood for another moment, seemingly gathering his words. The man, who was in his late fifties, signaled the staff to gather around his makeshift platform.

Work, the soul-less clicking of those new computer keyboards, died down as heads and attention turned to observe this news-room oddity. The phones also stopped ringing . . . as if by design.

“What the hell you doing, Art?” a nearby aging voice questioned, as it had done at press conferences for more than thirty-something years. Dubois ignored the query as he began to speak: