Sherbrooke Daily Record

Leonard started it all one winter's day

In the late 19th Century, one of the most prominent publishers in Quebec's Eastern Townships was LEONARD S. CHANNELL. The author of a history of Compton county, he founded a weekly called the Compton County Chronicle, and another in 1883 called the Stanstead Observer.

Channell This was at a time when Sherbrooke and the surrounding region had large anglophone populations.

In Sherbrooke itself, there were already at least two English-language weeklies, the Sherbrooke Gazette, established in 1837, and the Sherbrooke Examiner, started in 1879.

Channell believed the time was ripe for a a daily newspaper in Sherbrooke, and on Feb. 9, 1897, the first issue of his Sherbrooke Daily Record appeared.

Channell had no building, no printing press and no type. He made arrangements with L. A. BELANGER, publisher of a French-language weekly, for the use of his press and production facilities. Channell rented a room on the ground floor of Belanger's building, and that was the business and editorial department of the fledgling daily.

It wasn't until a year later that the Record had its own press; a small and primitive hand-fed machine installed in a small building in downtown Sherbrooke. And by 1904, the paper had a circulation of 5,300, making it the largest English-language daily in the province outside of Montreal.

In 1906, a handsome new three-storey Record building rose on the site of the old one at 119 Wellington St. North, and a more up-to-date flatbed press was installed.

Record Building

(Photo from the Eastern Townships Research Centre, Bishop's University, Lennoxville, Que.)

The big building on the left is the 1906 Record building as it looked in the 1920s. It was home to the newspaper staff, production facilities and press until 1968. In the 1950s, the newsroom occupied the space on the second floor behind the four windows on the right. In the 1960s, it moved over behind the four windows at the other end of the building.

City's two weeklies absorbed

The two existing weeklies were no match for the robust Record so between 1904 and 1908, Channell bought them out and incorporated them into his paper.

Channell died at only 41 years of age in 1909, and VICTOR MORRILL took over management of the Record. In 1911, the newspaper had its third press -- a rotary type that printed the paper until 1968. Morrill died in 1928, and Channell's widow, WINNIFRED BUCKLAND took over control of the Record.

In 1930, she sold the paper to veteran Ontario publisher ALFRED WOOD, who raised the Record's circulation to 10,000.

Wood died in 1935, and a year later, JOHN BASSETT SR., president and managing director of the Montreal Gazette, purchased the majority of the common shares in the Record. This began an association with the Bassett family that lasted 32 years.

Bassett Sr. Bassett Jr. Saunders

Basssett's editor and general manager was C. P. BUCKLAND until his death in 1937, and J.K. FLAHERTY took over the position for some years later. In 1944, IVAN SAUNDERS, who had been on the staff of the Gazette was appointed the business manager, later became in effect the publisher, and remained with the Record for a quarter of a century. In 1945, Bassett's son, JOHN BASSETT, JR., became editor and vice-president of the Record, and shortly after bought the paper from his father.

Bassett, Jr. only stayed in Sherbrooke for three years after that. He moved his family back to Toronto in 1949 to become advertising director for the Toronto Telegram. But he and his family retained ownership of the Record and in 1952, Bassett, Jr., used the Record as collateral to gain control of the Telegram.

There were a number of editors of the Record during the postwar Bassett years. DOUG AMARON, a former war correspondent, was the paper's managing editor from 1945 to the early 1950's, when he left to re-join the Canadian Press news co-operative. CUTHBERT JONES, a veteran of the paper since 1929, took over from him.

Training ground for Toronto Telegram editors

Then Bassett, Jr. decided to use the Record as a training ground for some of his Telegram journalists, and there followed in quick succession GEORGE MacFARLANE, ARNOLD AGNEW and JOHN CRANFORD, all from Toronto. In 1961, HUGH DOHERTY, a Sherbrooke resident, was appointed editor-in-chief, and was there until mid-1968.

On January 22, 1968, the Record became the first daily in Canada to be printed by the then-new offset process, using state-of-the-art photoelectric production. This was done in new quarters on CPR Terrace with a new press, replacing the traditional newspaper press at the Wellington Street building, both of which had been in service for more than half a century.

But Bassett, Jr. had lost interest in the Record, and in August, 1968, sold it to a company headed by his long-time associate, Ivan Saunders. LEN RYAN took over as editor of the paper.

The new press and move to a new building, however, had been expensive. The English-speaking population of the Eastern Townships was continuing to decline and this cut into circulation and revenue.

Conrad Black and partners buy the Record

In the spring of 1969, the newspaper, but not the press or building, was sold to a group of partners led by CONRAD BLACK . They cut staff by 40 per cent, and since they had no press, the paper was printed across the border in Newport, Vermont. The name was changed to The Record. It was the beginning of what became Black's world-wide media empire.

Eventually, Black and his partners PETER WHITE and DAVID RADLER bought a used press, and moved the Record to an old building on Roy St. There were a number of editors during Black's ownership, including SCOTT ABBOTT, ALEX RADMONIVITCH, and BARBARA (VERITY) STEVENSON.

In 1977, Black sold the paper to a consortium of local businessmen headed by lawyer GEORGE MacLAREN. They hired JAMES DUFF as editor, and in 1980, CHARLES BURY, who did the job for 16 years. The business was moved to yet another location on Delorme Street.

In 1988, MacLaren sold the Record to Quebecor, a major Quebec-based corporation. In January, 1999, a major fire ruined the Delorme Street building and the presses and other equipment inside, so the paper was forced into temporary quarters in nearby Lennoxville, without its own press.

In September, 1999, Black and his partners re-acquired the newspaper. In June, 2000, they moved the paper back to Sherbrooke with its own press and permanent premises on Galt St. East. The paper was later acquired by Alberta publishing interests, and in 2007, was published by the Alta Newspaper group of Alberta, in which David Radler had a stake.

Its publisher in 2007 was KENNETH WELLS. Its longtime editor was SHARON McCULLY, until July 21, 2006 when she retired after 18 years at the paper, 10 of them as editor. But McCully didn't stay retired for long. She and her husband bought The Outlet, a monthly newspaper in nearby Magog, and in September, 2006, put out out their first issue.

McCully was succeeded at the Record by ELEANOR BROWN who in turn was succeeded by JENNIFER YOUNG. But in February 2012, SHARON McCULLY was listed as the paper's publisher, and DANIEL COULOMBE its editor.

In recent years, there had been an investment in new technology for the Record, the paper has its own web site, and had been re-designed to give it a new and modern look, as in this edition of September, 2006:

The Record now

(Some of the information on this page and the picture of Channell are from
a history of the paper published in the Centennial Edition of The Record, Feb. 7, 1997)


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Covering the County Fairs | Glenn Gould Comes to Town | The Editors
A First in Canada | The Strike of '62 | Learning on the Job | Montreal's Expo 67
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Page created Spring 1999. Last updated Feb. 21, 2012