Origins of the Georgia Straight

The Georgia Straight: a 50th Anniversary Celebration book cover
The Georgia Straight: a 50th Anniversary Celebration
The Georgia Straight, Vancouver’s iconic free weekly newspaper, is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year. To mark the occasion, Straight journalist Doug Sarti, BA’89, and owner and publisher Dan McLeod, BSc’65, have released a new book showcasing more than 100 of the paper’s most stunning covers, along with short essays, insider details, and contributor reflections that put each of the issues into historical context. (The book’s introduction, for example, is by Bob Geldof, who edited the entertainment section during the early 70s.)

In his prologue to The Georgia Straight: a 50th Anniversary Celebration, McLeod recounts the origins of the paper’s name. The story takes place before the Pit Pub was established on UBC’s Point Grey campus, when the nearest watering hole for several miles was the since-demolished Cecil Hotel pub on Granville (pre strip-joint days). The Cecil had thus became a popular gathering spot for students.

It was here, in February 1967, that McLeod and fellow UBC student Peter Auxier, BA’65 – who were then editors and publishers of TISH, a poetry magazine founded by UBC English graduate students – had an urgent discussion with artists Michael Morris and Glenn Lewis. Their beer-fuelled mission: to come up with a better name for a new “underground” newspaper that had recently been founded and given the working name of Terminal City.

The four friends, representing a portion of the collective that gave the paper its original name, disliked the title and its implied negativity. A meeting to finalize the name was imminent, so they needed to come up with a vote-swaying alternative. Their brainstorming led to names of local geographic landmarks, narrowed to bodies of water, and landed on the Georgia Strait. McLeod, however, had a different interpretation: “I thought, ‘yes, the Georgia Straight,’ because we would be straight shooters, speaking truth to power. And, thinking ironically, in our lifestyle and beliefs we were anything but ‘straight.’”

Despite facing stiff opposition at the next meeting, the new name won the majority vote, and another piece of Vancouver’s history was born.

Robert Thomson, BA’62, has set up his own publishing company, Godwin Books (www.godwinbooks.com), and reprinted two of George Godwin’s works: The Eternal Forest (1929) and its sequel Why stay we here? (1930), which follows Godwin to France in WWI. Thomson has also published seven of his own books, the most recent of which is Florence, Dante and Me. It draws upon the letters he wrote to his fiancée over the course of his year-long university study in early 1960s Italy, and aims to capture the experience of a young and adventurous student in a distant land.

On June 7, 2017, Doreen Braverman, BEd’64, was presented with the Sovereign Medal for Volunteers by the Honourable Lieutenant Governor of British Columbia, Judith Guichon, at Government House in Victoria.

Bill Donnelly, BSc’64, PhD’67, is co‑author of a graduate-level physics textbook that has recently become available: Foundations of Nuclear and Particle Physics by T. W. Donnelly, J. A. Formaggio, B. R. Holstein, R. G. Milner and B. Surrow, Cambridge University Press (2017). Although Bill is retired from a career of 38 years at MIT, he continues to be active as a nuclear theorist and is working on another book.

John Kalbfleisch - A Stain Upon The Land
A Stain Upon The Land

John Kalbfleisch, BA’64, has written the novel A Stain Upon the Land (Shoreline Press). The book focuses on the 1827 shooting of prominent Montreal official Robert Watson. The murder horrified the bustling city and launched a mystery that endures to this day: who killed Watson, and why? Blending fact and fiction, A Stain Upon the Land is a tale of intrigue, passion and violence that ranges from the Highlands of Scotland to the backwoods of Upper Canada, from the War of 1812 to a cholera epidemic that scourged Montreal in 1832. The novel follows the fortunes of a young woman and the two men who love her – and not all of them can survive. Though several people had reason enough to want Watson dead, no one was ever punished for the crime.

Professor Gordon McBean, BSc’64, PhD’70, is the winner of the 62nd International Meteorological Organization Prize awarded by the World Meteorological Organization. Established in 1955, the prize is the most important award in meteorology and rewards outstanding contributions in meteorology, climatology and hydrology.

George Swede, BA’64, has won first place in the Haiku Society of America’s 2017 Merit Book Awards with his 40th collection of poetry, Helices (Red Moon Press, 2016). More details about his career can be found at www.georgeswede.com.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Please be aware that comments submitted through this form will appear publicly below this article. Comments may also be published in future print issues of Trek magazine.

Comments are moderated, and may take some time to appear.