February 24, 2012

The town the colonel built

My wife's grandfather was a newspaperman in Montreal who accumulated a mountain of books during his career.

Several of them came into our possession a while back, including one with the letters WGN embossed importantly on the cover.

That book, published in 1922 to mark the 75th anniversary of the "World's Greatest Newspaper," offers a glowing history of Col. Robert McCormick's fabled Chicago Tribune.

That history covers the great tide of events in America from the lead-up to the Civil War to the aftermath of the Great War, in which the colonel saw battle in France. (It would be 26 years before the WGN ran the unfortunate "Dewey Defeats Truman" headline, with which some of a certain generation would come to remember the WGN.)

This year, there's another WGN-related 75th anniversary being celebrated, in the Quebec town that Col. McCormick built. Baie Comeau, the colonel's vision of a model company town, rose in 1937 from the wilderness on the spectacularly scenic North Shore of the St. Lawrence River.

McCormick's insatiable hunger for newsprint for his growing newspaper empire compelled him to expand his Canadian timber territory and, with the ready agreement of the Quebec government of the day, set up a massive operation on the North Shore to feed a paper mill.

The bustling town, incorporated in 1937, featured all the amenities and facilities, from swimming pool to library, to provide the kind of healthy family life the colonel promoted.

McCormick was a regular visitor to Baie Comeau and had built a sumptuous manor to accommodate him and his entourage. He even arranged to have radio broadcasts from Baie Comeau on his Chicago-based station, WGN, and brought in famous performers.

The colonel was also responsible for much of the industrial expansion on Quebec's North Shore. The massive dam he built in 1951 to supply power to his paper mill begat an aluminium plant, which, in turn, sparked further hydropower development in the region. The construction of the deep-water port necessary for the industrial plants attracted the massive Cargill grain silo installation.

Text Only | Photo Reprints
  • ouellette.jpg Web doctor always gets it right

    I have access to the collected medical knowledge of all recorded history at my fingertips, columnist Steve Ouellette writes.

    April 20, 2014 1 Photo

  • colin_read.jpg Airport projects can benefit local economy

    Using a local workforce keeps wages and spending in the community if it can be done in a cost-effective manner, according to columnist Colin Read.

    April 20, 2014 1 Photo

  • Gast_Richard.jpg Producers can recycle tubing

    Project allows maple-syrup makers to conveniently dispose of their used tubing in an environmentally friendly way, according to columnist Richard Gast.

    April 20, 2014 1 Photo

  • Terry_Mattingly.jpg Easter with doubters and the 'nones'

    Should more pastors ask this blunt question: "Do you really believe Jesus was raised from the dead?" wonders religion columnist Terry Mattingly.

    April 18, 2014 1 Photo

  • Black_Peter_2014_cropped.jpg Canadiens are Canada's team

    The National Hockey League playoffs are underway, and for Canadiens fans, many of whom likely reside in the Montreal "suburb" of Plattsburgh, it is a time of hope and joy.

    April 18, 2014 1 Photo

  • little_mug.jpg There's no saw like an old saw Kaye and I laughed ourselves silly the other day as we tried to top each other with our own sayings from childhood, columnist Gordie Little writes.

    April 13, 2014 1 Photo

  • Denenberg_Stu1.jpg Privacy concerns make a comeback

    There's a growing concern amongst the millennials, columnist Stu Denenberg writes.

    April 13, 2014 1 Photo

  • paul_grasso.jpg Several options exist for downtown

    Pedestrian mall just one idea that could be good for city's economic future, according to columnist Paul Grasso.

    April 13, 2014 1 Photo

  • colin_read.jpg Government can't create success on its own

    It takes a grass-roots community effort of people working together to assure future accomplishment, according to columnist Colin Read.

    April 13, 2014 1 Photo

  • Hagar_mug1.jpg Farmers strive for sustainability

    Conserving the land and assuring long-term profitability are two of the key goals for farmers these days, according to columnist Peter Hagar.

    April 13, 2014 1 Photo

Peter Black: Canadian Dispatch

Lois Clermont, Editor

Cornell Cooperative Extension
Richard Gast: Cornell Ag Extension

Bob Grady

Guest Columns
Peter Hagar: Cornell Ag Connection

Health Advice

Ray Johnson: Climate Science
Gordie Little: Small Talk

Terry Mattingly: On Religion

Steve Ouellette: You Had To Ask

Colin Read: Everybody's Business

Pinch of Time