The Pigeon Press


Chronicling Our Youth

 

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December '65

 

January '66

 

February '66

 

May '66

 

 

 

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Historical Perspective

 

            It was a very exciting time in their lives.  Some highly creative and energetic Mimico students found a timely outlet to express their personal interests by writing and producing The Pigeon Press, Canada’s largest and only independent high school newspaper.

 

            Originally founded under the school’s jurisdiction by Maggi Redmonds in 1965, a crisis developed for the paper when Principal Charlie Burns sought to censor it.  Enraged by this, in a radical act editor Robin Wigdor rallied the support of staff and students to publish the Pigeon Press out of the school, free from administration censorship.

 

            It had all the ingredients of a minor revolution, a real ‘60s story;  independent thinkers and supportive teachers (who gave us school mimeograph paper with which to print) versus an unpopular school administration in an era of growing youth empowerment.  Even one of our teachers and Mimico Mayor Hugh Griggs, himself a journalist, wrote letters of support for the students’ position.

 

            In their ariticles, regular columnists Maggi Redmonds, Harold ‘Woody’ Woodside, Brenda Pellier, Gary Muth and David Platt took square aim at the ‘stay-at-homers’ who rarely ventured downtown and thought that fraternities, sororities and beauty pageants were the ultimate school aspirations.  In retrospect, the Pigeon Press writers were  ahead of  their time, expressing  informed views on music, avant-garde film and art, cultural and political trends.  They even campaigned to save Toronto’s OldCity Hall from demolition.

 

           Wigdor eventually handed editorial control of the paper over to Platt who brought more writers on board together with a greater sense of student entitlement.  Chris Curry expanded the paper’s marketing, advertising and sales team.  In its own way, the paper provided real opportunities for dozens of students to become involved by publicly expressing themselves, building confidence and developing a variety of valuable life skills.

 

           How successful was Pigeon Press?  Well, it always sold out.  Each edition was larger and more ambitious than the last.  During its short life span, its writers amazingly managed to interview the likes of Muhammad Ali, Donovan and Gene Krupa, as well as photographing student Patti Allan with actor Sal Mineo in Yorkville.  Not lacking in ambition, Muth and Woodside even donned waiters’ uniforms and ‘borrowed’ a King Edward Hotel room service trolley in a bold, but unfortunately failed attempt to interview the Beatles in their hotel suites.

 

            Contributing to the Pigeon Press also gave some participants their first successes in fields that would later become their lifelong careers.  Remarkably many Pigeon Press staff members are still close friends after all these years.  Maggi summed up the experience best with, “It gave us empowerment at an early age.  You had to develop good organizational skills and we benefited by learning things without the school’s help or control.”

 

            Please enjoy all the four complete editions of Canada’s largest and only independent high school paper as written by students who cared and dared to be different.

 

 

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