Features | “Dangerous” ideas that went mainstream

McGill alumni discuss what the paper taught them and its place at McGill

I guess I knew before coming to McGill that I would get involved with The Daily. I had been editor of my high school newspaper and my mother had written book reviews for The Daily back in the ’30s.

By the time I came, The Daily was clearly a “political” paper, covering the increasing concerns of student associations across North America. In the days before Internet and high- speed data transmission (the Canadian University Press communicated using a Teletype machine with mimeographed supplements), The Daily News editor would scan the New York Times and the Toronto Star for news of protests, occupations, and victories.

The Daily office was a warm community, and although not all staff (reporters, photographers, sports writers, etc.) were interested in the editorial politics, everyone felt that the paper was a learning community: neophytes walking in the door could be guaranteed attention, the veterans showing them the ropes.

The Daily itself was news, since much of the less-than-leftwing community at McGill constantly attacked it and every so often, Student Council would try to muzzle The Daily in one manner or another.

The Daily in the late ’60s was at the forefront of presenting certain “dangerous” ideas to the McGill community, which have, of course, become part of the mainstream since then: the right of students to participate in university governance (the administration’s resistance provoking student strikes and occupations); concern with the close ties between the Board of Governors and certain engineering researchers with the military industry; the place of women in the university community; the isolation of McGill from the effervescent changes in Quiet Revolution Quebec and the beginning of the independence movement; the ongoing resistance to the war in Vietnam – there were many American draft resisters amongst McGill students – and Canadian government complicity and the advent of recreational drugs and the “youth counterculture.”

The Daily could be counted on to cover events and present information and opinion from here and abroad, broadening horizons for students, many of whom were fresh out of high school in those pre-CEGEP days – all this while still providing witty coverage of sports teams (in my first year, a Daily contingent had its reserved tier at Redmen football games!) and a multitude of editorial cartoons.

Sam Boskey was a McGill Daily staffer, 1966-69, and a Montreal city councillor, 1982-1998.

Read more alumni letters here.