Features | “I majored in The Daily at McGill”

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

I like to tell people that I majored in The Daily at McGill (1968-70). Oh, I enrolled in classes, attended most of them, and wrote the term papers. But that was all secondary to the time I spent in the windowless room in the basement of the Student Union.

Those were tumultuous years, so there was never any shortage of copy for The Daily. The emergence of Rene Levesque and the Parti Quebecois, McGill Français, the firing of Stan Gray, the early Trudeau years, Drapeau’s megalomania, the burning of the SGWU computer centre, and the spillover effect of the Vietnam War. All this and more filled the pages of The Daily. Putting the paper to bed at night felt far more relevant than writing a term paper for my philosophy of religion class.

We also did it independently. There was no faculty or administration oversight, on the journalistic side or on the business end of the paper. That meant we made mistakes, of course. But we learned from those mistakes.

There were a lot of stars at The Daily in those days – people you could safely predict would go on to make their mark in journalism. And they did: Charles Krauthammer, Mark Starowicz, George Radwanski, Mark Phillips, and others.

But my fondest memories are not of the stars. Rather, I remember kids who enlisted at The Daily with no journalistic background, and who were writing highly competent news stories and features by the end of the year. I hope they look back on their time at The Daily as fondly as I do.

Ian Urquhart was Daily News editor, 1969-70. He works at the Toronto Star.

Read more alumni letters here.