The Amazing Career of George McCullagh
At 43, McCullagh has already bought three papers, helped make two premiers and won a King’s Plate. Finding a millionaire partner helped, but it wasn’t the whole story
THE HANDS on the ancient clock above the grubby brick façade of the Toronto Evening Telegram building stood at 5.10 p.m.—well past the hour when Tely reporters like to brew their afternoon tea. Upstairs, 450 employees of “The Old Lady of Melinda Street” waited and fidgeted. A moment later their new boss, who had strode over from his antiseptic steel and concrete Globe and Mail building, walked in and began to speak. When he had finished, his listeners felt less nervous: in the first place, George McCullagh’s blunt, friendly talk had reassured them. In the second place, the creaking, overtaxed editorial floor had not collapsed after all.
Were there any questions?
Up spoke associate editor C. H. J. (Skipper) Snider (whose predilection for ships and Ukrainians has sometimes made his paper look like a cross between Ukrainsky Holos and an old issue of Yachting), “As the oldest sailor on the ship,” said Mr. Snider, “I’d like to ask a question: Would you do me the honor of having a cup of tea with me?”
The new boss grinned. “Since I can’t take liquor any longer, I just love tea,” he said. Maudie Stickles, oldest Telegram switchboard operator, scurried with the tea things. For the lesser guests there was Royal Crown Derby. But for Clement George McCullagh, the newsboy who made good, the staff had rustled up a sterling silver cup and saucer.
The circumstances which led to this curiously significant scene have made George McCullagh one of the most powerful figures in Canadian public life. He has, as his own paper once reported, “literally hoisted himself up from his bootstraps.” The 43 years of his life are crammed with a series of dramatic paradoxes.
McCullagh, the penniless newsboy, lived to purchase the paper he sold on the streets of London, Ont., and two other Toronto papers as well. McCullagh, who once harnessed the dray horses of a butcher’s wagon, saw his own horse win the
King’s Plate—with the King himself present to bestow his guineas. McCullagh, the kid with only six months high school, became the youngest governor of Canada’s largest university at 31. McCullagh, who couldn’t get a job as a sports reporter, ended up owning a good chunk of the Maple Leaf hockey team. McCullagh, who once trotted up Bay Street with financial-page copy, pulled one of the greatest financial deals in recent Canadian history by persuading multimillionaire William H. Wright to lay out close to five million dollars to huy him two papers and the finest news building in the country. McCullagh, who once counted dollar bills as a bank clerk, last November counted out $3,610,000 which he raised without Wright’s help to buy the Toronto Telegram.
To'day this highly complex, many-sided man has more daily newspaper circulation under his wing than any publisher or group in Canada. (His combined Globe and Mail and Tely circulation of 414,000 is 50,000 ahead of the once dominant five-paper Southam chain.) And with Toronto’s two Tory papers under his control his power in the Progressive Conservative party is tremendous.
Yet nervous party members can’t be too certain that the unpredictable McCullagh, a former Hepburn Liberal who became a staunch Drew Conservative, might not switch again. Some saw more than irony in the banner line hailing the purchase in the Tely, which has seldom if ever deviated from its ultra-Tory, ultra-Orange line. It read:
TELY REMAINS INDEPENDENT.
His Target—the Star
MCCULLAGH always has been unpredictable.
Early in the year it was well-known he was bidding for the Telegram. Then word went around that he’d bowed out. He had almost got the paper for $3,025,000 when negotiations blew up. (Principals acting for Bill Aiken, Lord Beaverbrook’s nephew, had protested. Toronto’s Sick Children’s Hospitalsole legatee of the Tely estate under the will of the paper’s founder, John Ross Robertsoninsisted the bidding be public.)
McCullagh let it be known that he was no longer interested. On the night before the bids were opened, he bet his mechanical superintendent, Jim Harrison, $10 that he wouldn’t bid. Next morning the news was out: McCullagh had upped the ante another half a million to nose out both Aiken and a securities firm believed to be acting for Conservative stalwart F. K. Morrow. Harrison got $10 and the job of streamlining the Tely’s mechanical plant.
Why had McCullagh bought the ailing Tely? Probably not for immediate profit. His own explanation was this: “I’m going to knock that pedagogic rag right off its pedestal.” He meant the jazzy, trumpeting Toronto Star (circulation 365,000 Canada’s largest) to whose politics (leftwing liberal to CCF), principles and very existence he is bitterly opposed.
McCullagh loathes the Star as the Martins loathed the Coys. When the Star fought and lost a libel suit against the Globe and Mail McCullagh crowed that he’d been “allowed to call the Star a liar at the Star’s expense.”
“Other than making the Tely a good evening paper, knocking that rag out is my only passion,” he told interviewers last month. A week after he
took over, the Tely began to beat the drums for a new feature—a serialization of Charles Dickens’ “The Life of Our Lord.” Few readers remembered that the circulation-wise Star had serialized it 14 years before.
McCullagh plans to pour another million and a half into the Tely, but the paper will have to go some to beat the smart, solid, readable Globe and Mail whose newspages are reckoned the best in Canada. Ironically, 12 of the Globe’s keymen are ex - Star staffers who preferred working for McCullagh. Each year they send their old boss, Harry Hindmarsh, a Merry Christmas telegram, collect.
While admitting that a truly free press, like a truly free democracy, is an unattainable absolute, Globe and Mail reporters insist they now have more freedom under McCullagh than they would on almost any other Canadian newspaper. They also admit that, in his younger days, the publisher had his own list of taboos and sacred cows.
Once a memo came round that every time Bishop R. J. Renison, McCullagh’s Anglican pastor, appeared in range of a camera, he was to be photographed. The paper blossomed with pictures of the Bishop, who still writes a weekly religious editorial for the paper. When he ordered a news story attacking the government, former reporter Harold Dingman protested that you couldn’t handle the government that way. “Dingman,” retorted McCullagh, “I make and unmake governments.”
Today the sacred cows have gone. George Drew gets plenty of space in the McCullagh press, but the editors lean over backward to give equal space to his attackers. If McCullagh is publicly attacked, the story is printed. If he’s praised, it isn’t used. Senator Arthur Roebuck’s name, once banned from the paper, now appears, though McCullagh, reading the account of a speech by his old enemy, will sometimes shake his head and say: “Thank God I’ve got nothing to do with news policy.”
He has always resisted advertising pressure. An advertiser once complained about a feature story the Globe and Mail had written about a rival firm. “I’m under no obligation to you,” McCullagh snapped, and told him where he could put his ads. One day he caught an advertiser berating one of his editors, and ordered him out of the office. “You can’t do that,” said the businessman, “I’m an important advertiser.” The publisher seized him by coat and trousers and ousted him bodily.
At 43, George McCullagh has lost the plump, boyish look of a decade
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ago. The jet hair has turned iron-grey and the tanned face has a craggy look. His brows are still heavy and black, his j eyes probing. His employees have long since ceased to call him “The Young Master” and his enemies no longer gibe at him as “The Boy Editor.” Old staffers call him “George” and he swaps stories (sometimes offi color) with one and all at coffee time in I the Globe cafeteria. His relations with his employees once reached the point where he presented a reporter with $50 and a blond secretary and told him to take her out and show her a good time. The reporter dutifully complied.
A Born Salesman
McCullagh has been a supersalesman I all his life. As a nine-year-old newsboy in London, Ont., during the first World War, he used to rush out to suburban Manor Park with war extras to sell to the British-born residents he knew lived there. During World War II he personally sold Roosevelt and Churchill on the idea of sending U. S. publishers to England for a firsthand look at the war effort. As a reformed imbiber he has sold a dozen prominent businessmen on temperance.
When he talks he leans forward and pounds his arguments at his listeners, his lean face aglow with enthusiasm. He has an intuitive salesman’s grasp of what the people want. Some time ago, during a Drew campaign, he heard that the then-provincial premier was intending to make a speech stressing his United Empire Loyalist background and deep family roots in the Canadian soil. “If he ever says that I’ll shove it down his throat,” McCullagh roared. “You can’t tell that sort of thing to a Pole who’s only been in this country seven years.”
He still has plenty of brashness. When Henry Luce, Time publisher, phoned congratulations on the Tely purchase, McCullagh seized the occasion to chide Luce on Time’s Canadian coverage. “People think me highhanded and objectionable,” he said the other day. “I’ll confirm it, if they like.”
For a public figure he is remarkably sensitive. “Do you know of any man in Canada who’s been attacked more often than McCullagh?” he asked an editor over the phone recently. In the early days he considered all editorial attacks on the Globe as attacks on him personally. “George,” a friend has remarked, “is seven skins too thin.”
He still winces over an article the Saturday Evening Post asked J. C. Furnas to write about him in 1938. Furnas, whose wife took notes of the interview, quoted him as making such remarks as “that was the time big men first began to fear me” (referring to his stock market success).
The Post called the article “Canada’s Wonder Boy” and at first McCullagh liked it. When business friends began to rib him he changed his mind. Now he calls it “unethical journalism” and insists he was misquoted. Whether he was or not, there is evidence that, in his younger days at least, he had no worries about false modesty. At a testimonial dinner in 1936, tendered by a group of leading public figures, he made a speech in which he termed his purchase of the hidebound Globe on a no-strings-attached basis as “a masterpiece.”
The rags-to-riches theme in McCullagh’s life was recognized by the publisher himself on the night he
bought the old Globe. A reporter had written a story outlining his new boss’ meteoric career. McCullagh read it in the first edition and asked that a new one be written. There wasn’t enough of the Horatio Alger touch in the firstedition account, he said.
Certainly his life follows the Alger pattern. His father, George H. McCullagh, was a cabinetmaker and a staunch union man. (In later years, when the Globe and Mail was denouncing the C.I.O., its publisher could point to his own labor background and recall the strikes and layoffs that had kept the family budget low.) Young George was raised on Askin Street, in South London, in a substantial working-class neighborhood. After he left school he became a junior with the old Merchants Bank of Canada.
When he took his first job with the Globe, in 1921, as a circulation salesman it was only because he couldn’t get a reporter’s job. In his first week on the paper he won the weekly $10 bonus for the most subscription sales plus another five dollars the circulation manager had promised him out of his own pocket. He continued to win the bonus week after week, despite the fact that he was sent to tough districts in rural areas. One of his methods was to challenge farmers to a plowing contest—the stakes being a Globe subscription. It was McCullagh who usually plowed the straighter furrow.
But he could hardly be called a Globe type. Under its strait-laced publisher, William Gladstone Jaffray, the paper refused ads for cigarettes, girdles, whisky, sanitary pads and cheap clothing. It panned sexy movies and covered every religious revivalist who came to town. It refused to praise Sinclair Lewis’ novels because the author was an atheist.
One day McCullagh returned in triumph from North Bay after selling 200 subscriptions to a group of school children. Jaffray sent for him at once. McCullagh arrived, expecting a pat on the back. Instead, Jaffray chided him for drinking in North Bay and playing poker on the train.
At the same time Jaffray told him if he continued to show the same amount of ginger, he’d end up as publisher some day. This was the first of a series of prophetic remarks which culminated in McCullagh’s own statement to Jaffray when he finally left the Globe: “When I next walk into this office, I’ll be buying the paper out from under you.”
McCullagh, the hustler, was put in charge of the Globe’s circulation office in London. He still had a yen to be a reporter, preferably a sports reporter. In London he attended hockey games, invaded the dressing rooms and sat in the Press Box under the Globe aegis. A London reporter found out he was only a circulation man and ordered him from the box. Later the same reporter moved to Toronto and decided to get a job on one of the morning papers. He found McCullagh owned the Globe. He started to try the Mail. McCullagh had just bought the Mail. He ended up on the Tely, where he still works. Now McCullagh owns the Tely.
At the age of 17, McCullagh established a continent-wide record by enrolling 300,000 members in the “Just Kids” safety club, which the Globe was sponsoring along with other papers which carried the Just Kids comic strip. His salary went up and his commissions increased but he threw it all up to take a job as financial reporter at half the pay. His old boss—Wellington Jeffers—is still financial editor under McCullagh.
It was through this connection that he got a job in a Bay Street brokerage firm in 1928. In a month he was
managing the firm’s stock exchange business. He made fat commissions. Then the crash came. McCullagh took a deep breath, postponed his marriage to Phyllis Laidlaw of Hamilton for a year and plunged ahead.
A Rich Man at 30
By 1931 he was on his own selling and investing in oil and mining shares. Gold soared from $20.67 an ounce in 1931 to $35 in 1934. By 1935, McCullagh was a director of Mining Corporation, one of the country’s largest mining companies, and a partner of stockbroker Richard Barrett, a onetime bank man whose father had answered an ad for missing heirs and inherited several million dollars. Business was so good the firm’s staff increased from three to 40 in two months. By this time McCullagh’s own assets were estimated at close to a million. He had just turned 30.
One of the men who joined the Mining Corporation directorate with McCullagh was the late W. R. P. (Percy) Parker, millionaire oil and mining man, corporation lawyer and reputed to be largest single backer of the Liberal Party in Canada. Parker had taken a liking to George McCullagh, who was a red-hot Liberal in the days when Toronto was solidly Tory. McCullagh became Parker’s protégé and, when Parker died, came as near as anyone to replacing him as behindthe-scenes Liberal boss in Toronto.
Early in the 30’s, McCullagh had helped to found the Centurion Club, a group of newcomers to Liberal politics. One night a young member of Parliament, Mitchell Hepburn, talked to the club and made a great impression. A few months later, with a hoist from Percy Parker and his protégé, he won the leadership of the party and subsequently became Premier of Ontario. In the summer of 1936 Hepburn gratefully made McCullagh a governor of the University of Toronto—the youngest in its history and the first stockbroker to sit on the board. (McCullagh still holds the post and works hard at it. Last year the university gave him an honorary degree.)
The Discovery of Wright
At this point in his career McCullagh made his biggest sale.
In the Canadian scene there are two sure-fire ways of becoming a success. One way is to find a gold mine. The other way is to find a man who has found a gold mine. Bill Wright found the gold mine. George McCullagh found Bill Wright.
William Henry Wright had been a butcher’s apprentice in England, a hussar in the Boer War and a house painter in Cobalt, Ont. When he arrived in Toronto in 1908 he had a dollar and a quarter. In 1911 it took him six months to raise a $40 grubstake. Then, with his brother-in-law Ed Hargreaves, he went out prospecting up Kirkland Lake way. He was hunting rabbits when he stumbled on a quartz outcropping nine feet wide, aglitter with free gold. At $10 apiece he and his partner could only afford to record four claims. But from this spot sprang the WrightHargreaves mine which has since paid out $47 millions in dividends to stockholders. A short time later Wright froze his toes in 42-below weather to stake another group of claims next to an American prospector named Harry Oakes. This became the equally fabulous Lakeshore Mine which has paid out $98 millions in dividends. Wright is vice-president of both mines. At one time his income was estimated at more than $2 millions annually and his income tax the highest in Canada.
Wright, aged 40, went off to war in 1916 as the only millionaire private in the army. He served under shellfire two years and came back to Barrie, Ont., to find every promoter in the country hammering on his door. When McCullagh linked arms with him, the hammering had been going on for 16 years and Wright’s affairs were in a financial tangle. In 1935, ready to flee the country to escape heavy taxes, he told a reporter: “More than 60% of my time is taken up talking to people who want to sell me something. What I want is peace. I think I was happier when I had no money.”
At this point McCullagh proved himself a salesman. At their first meeting Wright turned him away and McCullagh withdrew without a murmur. Later, Wright remembered him as “the only promoter I ever met with the sense to take no for an answer.” McCullagh became Wright’s secretary in charge of his financial affairs in the fall of 1935. Wright stayed in Canada and by 1936 McCullagh had his affairs straightened out and had talked Wright into buying the Globe. “We can’t get far without a bundle of money,” he told Wright. Wright laid out $1,300,000.
In two days he had 63 columns of ads that hadn’t been in the Globe for two years. When the first cigarette ad went through the stereotype machine the apparatus jammed and McCullagh, who was standing nearby, remarked that the antitobacco feeling even permeated the Globe’s machinery. But the paper still does not run liquor advertising.
Gracie Allen on Page One
McCullagh jazzed up the news and bought Walter Winchell’s and Gracie Allen’s column (which he ran on the front page). The rival Conservative morning Mail and Empire quivered. McCullagh let it be known that he had no interest in the opposition paper but intended to run it out of business. This was too much for the Mail’s owner, pulp-and-paper magnate Isaac Walton Killam. One month after the Globe’s purchase the phone rang in McCullagh’s home. Said McCullagh, “1 bet that’s Ike Killam.” He was right. Before the Conservative party knew it, he had bought the Mail and Empire with $2,225,000 of Bill Wright’s money.
He phoned Wright: “Bill, we’ve bought another paper.” “Which one?” Wright asked. McCullagh told him. Said Wright with dry humor, “All we need now is a weekly. Why not buy Hush? It’s a ’ell of a good paper.”
The sudden purchase of the flourishing Tory Mail by the weak Liberal Globe shook the city. As the last edition of the Mail went to press, two printers played “Flowers of the Forest” on their bagpipes. Next day the Globe and Mail blossomed forth.
Work started almost immediately on a new building, also built with Wright’s money—$1,600,000. On completion it was reckoned the most modern newspaper building in the world. On the top floor adjoining the publisher’s office was an elaborate suite of rooms including a squash court and a bathroom whose walls were French grand antique black and white marble and whose ceiling was set in gold leaf.
Bill Wright visited his building for the grand opening, poked his head into the telegraph room and was told bluntly by the telegraph boy that “the public isn’t allowed in here.” Meekly, he withdrew’. His visits since have been infrequent though he sometimes stays in the penthouse apartment.
The new publisher plunged his hybrid paper into the thick of the
Hepburn anti-CIO battle which preceded the provincial election of 1937. He is credited with getting Hepburn to invade theenemy territory ofOshawaon election eve a shrewd, vote-getting move. Just before the election, McCullagh went on the air with a one-hour broadcast in support of the Liberals. His radio personality was such that his office was swamped with 2,000 letters and 14,000 phone calls in the days that, followed. At the end of the broadcast he remarked that his wife, seeing that he appeared downcast, had handed him a copy of Henley’s “Invictus” (“I am the master of my fate; I am the captain of my soul”) which he read over the air.
The next night at Toronto’s Massey Hall, Earl Rowe, the Conservative leader, remarked at the start of a speech that his wife hadn’t handed him any poem to read. The Globe’s report of this, written under McCullagh’s orders, called it a “personal attack” and a “sneering jibe at George McCullagh.” Hepburn took up the cry in a pre-election night speech in which he protested “the entirely uncalled-for statements which Mr. Rowe made in regard to Mrs. McCullagh.” He added, virtuously: “ƒ don’t fight women.” Next day the women voted in droves for Hepburn.
The Great Crusade
There are both idealism and evangelism in McCullagh’s make-up. When he first broached the idea of a paper to Wright he asked him to “link arms and join me in a crusade.” The crusade occurred in 1939 with a series of halfhour speeches by the publisher which launched the Leadership League. In his broadcasts McCullagh, whose mother once supplemented his meagre education with readings from the classics, quoted Longfellow, Shakespeare and Ruskin. He urged the government to stop “wild spending” and advocated the abolition of provincial governments and the formation of a national federal government. The League enrolled 125,000 members and the Globe and Mail gave it a full page of copy daily. McCullagh called it the greatest single idea in the history of journalism. Forty-two thousand subscribers filled in a printed ballot attesting to their support of the League and mailed it to Ottawa. But few supported it financially. A year later the League died from lack of leadership and the paper paid its bills to the tune of $30,000.
By 1943 McCullagh was ready to go on the radio again in support of the Drew-led Conservatives who, ironically enough, were opposed to the very centralization of authority which the League had called for. Until the last moment he was a power in the Liberal camp. In his radio address he contended that the federal party had asked him to rig the Liberal nominating convention in favor of Harry Nixon, Hepburn’s successor. McCullagh’s pro-Drew speeches are credited with helping the Conservatives to win.
Meanwhile, the 34-year-old publisher had served his country well. He joined the Air Force in 1939 and topped his class at an administrative course in Trenton. He was invalided out two years later after a bout with pneumonia. He then took a group of U. S. publishers, including Frank Gannett, owner of an important string of New York state dailies, and Mrs. Ogden Reid of the Herald -Tribune, on a McCullagh-conducted tour of Britain. This resulted in tremendous favorable publicity for the British war effort, and McCullagh’s stock in Britain is still sky-high.
Recent ill health has cut down
McCullagh’s 90-hour work week, but he still rules his editorial page with an iron hand. Seventy-two-year-old Bill Wright, whom McCullagh calls “the noblest, loveliest little guy you’d ever want to meet,” has no direct influence on the paper’s policies. He only interfered once: to enquire, mildly, if a cartoon panel “Gals Aglee,” which he liked and which had been dropped, could be reinstated. It was.
Inevitably, however, the common interests of the two are reflected in the Globe’s editorials. Despite the 30 years difference in their ages, the two men are like brothers. Both love horses and Wright breeds McCullagh’s racing stock. Both are self-made and believe firmly in hard work, individual initiative and a minimum of state control. Both are interested in mining (the Globe has the best mining news of the three Toronto dailies). Both have been called Imperialists.
McCullagh lays down the editorial line in daily two-hour luncheon conferences in his paneled dining room in the Globe penthouse. At times there is discussion, but as one staffer put it, “When McCullagh waves that fist you just don’t talk back.” Lie makes few speeches nowadays. Recently he turned down an invitation to address a group of Montreal businessmen. Said McCullagh, “If they want my opinions let them pay five cents and read my paper.”
McCullagh says he is out to “knock the Tory label off the Globe and myself.” He insists that he’s a liberal, though his definition of the word might differ from Mackenzie King’s. McCullagh believes that the Progressive Conservatives are the real “liberals.”
He has the traditional liberal attitude in regard to civil liberties. Any curb on individual freedom disturbs him. For this reason his paper attacked the handling of the Japanese evacuees from the Pacific Coast during the war and the conduct of the spy trials. When the CCF’s E. B. Joliffe made his famous charge that Premier Drew was operating his own private Gestapo, McCullagh sent word to Drew that unless he disproved the charges and ordered an immediate investigation, he’d attack him editorially. Drew countered with the radio speech which is credited with winning him the 1945 election.
On the Wagon Now
Though McCullagh prefers to keep his private life in the background, there have been times when he has injected it into the field of public controversy. The best-known instance of this was the column-and-a-quarter editorial he wrote on his temperance views in which he called himself “a product of the prohibition era” and confessed that he had “personally experienced great sorrow through drunkenness.” The Ottawa Journal referred to the editorial as journalistic “nudity.”
McCullagh quit drinking shortly before he acquired the Globe, telling friends that a man with that much responsibility couldn’t afford to drink. Acquaintances recall with some nostalgia his early boisterous days when, by way of greeting, he would loh one of Child’s Restaurant’s silverrimmed sugar bowls at a friend. Today he’s known as a gracious host with a well-stocked cellar. During the Quebec Conference, when Winston Churchill called for a special brandy, it was McCullagh who got it for him. A Globe policy—that any reporter caught with liquor on his breath will be fired— is never rigidly enforced.
His main outside interest is still sports. He holds a sizeable interest in the Maple Leaf Gardens. He rarely misses a football or hockey game and
flies to out-of-town games in the Globe and Mail plane, a Grumman Mallard which he also takes fishing and hunting. He’s an ardent gin-rummy fan, likes tennis, but thinks golf is “an old man’s game.”
His primary sporting interest, however, is racing. He has a stable of a dozen horses, most of them bred by Bill Wright whose one passion has been horses since he was a hussar. (Wright lived on horseflesh during the siege of Ladysmith.) McCullagh’s Speedy Irish is a prohibitive favorite to win the King’s Plate this year. Last season it captured the Orpen Cup and Saucer and other leading two-year-old stakes. The horse is equaling the record of Archworth which won the 80th King’s Plate for McCullagh the year of the Royal visit. Archworth was bred by Wright, who was on hand to witness the triumph and recall that just 30 years before he had to watch the races at Woodbine through a knothole.
McCullagh’s stable costs him upward of $30,000 a year exclusive of purchase price. (He paid $6,700 for Speedy Irish.)
A Legend at 43
He lives on a 100-acre country estate at Thornhill, six miles north of the Toronto city limits, not far from his 120-acre farm and stables. His home is a big mansion of stone and white clapboard set at the top of a series of terraces molded into the turf and leading down to an artificial spring-fed lake. In the basement there’s a movie theatre where McCullagh shows new movies flown up from New York.
His home life is as unruffled as his public life is turbulent. “George is a sentimentalist of the first water,” a friend has remarked of his passion for his family. He has three children: Bobby, 14, at Trinity College boarding school, Ann, 11, at swank Havergal College for girls, and George, 10, at Upper Canada Prep. The McCullagh family is never mentioned in the Globe’s society or news columns.
The McCullagh progeny have hobnobbed with the great and the neargreat. A photo in the McCullagh home shows the Duke of Kent, who stayed at the house during his Canadian tour in 1941, holding one of the children in his arms. Another shows eldest son Robert John (named for Bishop Robert John Renison, the Globe’s religious editorialist) reciting Kipling’s “If” while his father and Anthony Eden look on in bathing trunks. McCullagh calls Eden “Anthony,” Lord Beaverbrook “Max” and Lady Astor “Nancy.”
Conversely, lowly newsboys call him “George” and he likes it. “Hi ya, George,” one of them called out at him as he entered the Royal Winter Fair last fall as one of the principal spectators, “Hi ya, George—you gotta get something better in this sheet. It’s not going at all.” McCullagh grinned. Perhaps he remembered the days, 35 years ago, when as a boy of eight he hawked the old Globe through the dawn-lit streets of his home town. In those 35 years he has bought up three of the four papers which were alive when he hit Toronto, has helped to make two provincial premiers, has carved out a fortune for his family and a man-sized niche for himsel f.
What’s next for him? Probably a national weekly paper to fight the mighty Star Weekly. At 43 his story is only half told. Yet already it is becoming a Canadian legend. And the Canadian who feels that his country produces only drab, colorless, cautious figures can take heart at the unconventional tale of Clement George McCullagh, the newsboy who made good. *