Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Using the Sun

The Vancouver Sun newspaper got its start on February 12, 1912 and the debut articles were somewhat amusing though I wonder about the veracity. Japanese fisherman were accused of poisoning sea creatures with "slime and blood". Another headline read: “Hindu captures half-breed thief”, with a subheading: “Turkey tempts Native Son who falls to attraction of succulent roast.”

Reminds me of the tabloid magazines we see at the supermarket checkout today. But then again, perhaps reporting the news wasn't the main objective of the Sun. Originally, the paper started out as a mouthpiece for the Liberal party. Newspapers were started by political parties to promote their candidates and platforms.

The Sun Tower, formerly the World Building, in the 1930s. I got this photo from The and they got it from the Vancouver Public Library.

And here are two photos of the Sun Tower taken in 2010. They appear in a previous blog entry, Here's the Sun and Other Oddities.

The Sun wasn't around long before it was involved with a railway scandal. The Pacific Great Eastern Line went south and $25 million in government bail outs disappeared. One player in the railway game, Scottish contractor Colonel Jack Stewart bought the paper from its Liberal owners. His plan was to use the paper to  shape public opinion in his favour. Meanwhile, he was also picking the public's pockets. For good measure, Stewart paid off the Conservative Party, the Province newspaper and the North Shore Press.

Then, Stewart made a retreat to Europe. He thought his investment would be safe because he left it in the hands of an assistant, Robert Cromie. Cromie had been a bellhop at a Winnipeg hotel before Stewart hired him. But when Stewart returned to Vancouver, Cromie didn't want to give the paper back so he didn't.

Some stories say Cromie found company stock in a trashcan and other state the paper was given to him in lieu of wages. Whatever the true story is, with little newspaper knowledge and no previous experience, Cromie built a media empire. 

Colonel Stewart on the other hand faced a $6.9 million lawsuit from the province. It was reduced to $1.1 million.

Cromie was eccentric and loved to travel. He was also a little naive, I feel. In 1933, he travelled to Joseph Stalin's Russia where roughly six million people were starving due to forced collectivism. When he returned to Vancouver, he told his staff:

“I ask you to please don’t worry any more about Russia. If Stalin and his group were such monsters, why did not the people turn on them? Why would they stand for it?” I guess he was unaware of the intimidation tactics used or how difficult it is to revolt when a person is concerned about how they are going to get enough to eat.

Front page of the Vancouver Sun read, "Russia makes the Grade!"

“Mr. Cromie told of his visits to Moscow and Leningrad, his inspections of factories and public institutions, his visits to race courses and soccer fields and his interviews with people in various walks of life,” reads page one Aug. 14. “He came away impressed by the sincerity of the Russian experiment.”

Friday, I will tell you more about the Sun's not so illustrious years. I want to thank The for the information.

I hope you find the beauty around you.


  1. I enjoy your blogs and have noticed that many of your pictures capture an architectural base that dates further back than my meager beginnings. How old is Vancouver and are there areas that are super modern with areas surrounding that may be older?

    1. Thanks for the compliment. Vancouver was incorporated in 1886. Most of the city is a mixture of old and new.