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The Toronto Telegram (previously the Toronto Evening Telegram) was a conservative, broadsheet afternoon newspaper published in Toronto, Canada, from 1876 to 1971.

Toronto Telegram
Type Newspaper
Format Broadsheet
Owner John Ross Robertson; John Bassett - part owner
Founded 1876
Political alignment Populism, Conservative
Ceased publication 1971
Headquarters Toronto Telegram Building (now part of Commerce Court) and later 444 Front Street West, Toronto, Ontario



The Toronto Telegram was founded in 1876 by publisher John Ross Robertson. The Telegram's editor from 1876 to 1888 was Alexander Fraser Pirie (1849-1903) who was a native of Guelph, Ontario. Pirie had previously worked for the Guelph Herald which was his father's paper. He was already well known throughout 1870s Toronto as the "Sun Skit Urchin" - a newspaper column consisting of humorous political commentary.

Editorial position

The newspaper became the voice of working-class, conservative Orange (Protestant) Toronto.

It was purchased in 1952 by John Bassett. The newspaper had a reputation for supporting the Conservative Party at both the federal and provincial level. In the 1960s, the paper competed with the liberal Toronto Star.

The Tely strongly supported Canada's imperial connection with Britain as late as the 1960s.

The paper became a daily for a very short period during the early 1960s when it began publishing a Sunday edition that was short-lived and doomed to failure (it was said in the newsroom at the time) because the launch date, the publisher's birthday, was in mid-summer.

Sale and the end of the Tely

In the early 1960s Telegram owner John Bassett made a deal that involved selling the Bay and Melinda Street property where The Telegram was produced, in return for which he acquired a major interest in television network CTV and acquired property on Front Street West (which was subsequently occupied by The Globe and Mail). New presses were installed that allowed the newspaper to use a four-color print process. Pink paper was no longer appropriate.

In 1964, the International Typesetting Union called a strike at three newspapers in Toronto: The Telegram, The Toronto Star, and The Globe and Mail.

The paper was linked to the new TV station CFTO-TV via Telegram Corporation from 1960 to 1971. The Bassetts shut down the money-losing paper in October 1971.


The Toronto Telegram's photograghs are now stored at York University's digital archives.

Notable staff members

A number of the Telegram's key writers and staff started a new conservative tabloid, the Toronto Sun the Monday following the Telegram's last issue. As there was no time gap between the two papers, The Sun is generally considered as direct continuation of the Telegram, and is the holder of the Telegram's archives. York University's library holds about 500,000 prints and 830,000 negatives of pictures taken by the Telegram's photographers. Only a small number are searchable on line.

In the book The Death of the Toronto Telegram (1971), former Telegram writer Jock Carroll describes the decline of the paper, and provides many anecdotes about the Canadian newspaper business from the 1950s until 1970.

Well-known reporters, editors, columnists and cartoonists at "the Tely" included:

See also


  1. ^ "Toronto reporter and writer Gordon Donaldson dies at 74," Expositor, Brantford, Ontario: June 12, 2001, pg. A.24.
  2. ^ Biography at the Joe Shuster Awards
  • Carroll, Jock (1971). The death of the Toronto Telegram & other newspaper stories. Richmond Hill, Ont.: Simon & Schuster of Canada. ISBN 0-671-78184-7.  
  • Poulton, Ron (1971). The paper tyrant; John Ross Robertson of the Toronto Telegram. Toronto: Clarke Irwin. ISBN 0-7720-0492-7.  
  • Toronto: Past and Present / A Handbook of the City. C. Pelham Mulvany (Toronto: W. E. Caiger Publisher, 1884). Toronto Evening Telegram history: pp. 193-194.


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