From hot type to picture pixels: Guardian editor ends 44 years of journalism

Bill McGuire retired from the Charlottetown Guardian last Thursday after more than four decades of journalism in the Maritimes, covering politics, sports, agriculture, and just about every other imaginable topic in the region.

Bill McGuire watched decades of sociological and technological change

Bill McGuire retired on Thursday, and will now spend more time reading the paper than writing it. (Stephanie Kelly/CBC)

Bill McGuire retired from the Charlottetown Guardian on Thursday after more than four decades of journalism in the Maritimes, covering politics, sports, agriculture, and just about every other imaginable topic in the region.

For the last five-and-a-half years, McGuire has been editor of the op/ed page, which with PNP, high-capacity wells, abortion, proportional representation and municipal amalgamation he described as a particularly busy time.

"There were a lot of topics that really kept the old editorial juices flowing there," said McGuire.

'Clickety clacks and the hot lead pots'

McGuire has seen huge technological changes since he started work in the 1970s. At the time the newsroom was full of typewriters, and hot lead typesetters were working in the backroom.

"The clickety clacks and the hot lead pots, which was used to create the text," he said.

"Everything was upside down reversed. That's the way the lead came out. Then they were rolled, the newspaper, for proofing … It was so labour intensive. With the Guardian and Patriot there had to be over 100 people just in the press room and the makeup room and the composing room just to get those papers out."

He watched as that workforce dropped to a handful, with the advent of word processing and digital typesetting.

Blurring lines

In the newsroom McGuire saw news photographers disappear as reporters were given digital cameras. They not only took pictures but started shooting video as well, blurring the line between newspapers and broadcasters.

There were memorable news moments as well, in particular when Hurricane Juan struck the province on election day in 2003.

"I was in Morell and I was up early in the morning when the wind started and the trees were crashing on top of my car and I drove in about 7," said McGuire.

"No power of course. Just devastation, trees down, and everybody had just slept through it in Charlottetown. I started phoning staffers, 'You have to come in it's a disaster here.' And they were saying, 'What are you talking about?' They never heard or saw or felt a thing."

Retirement plans

McGuire remembers another election day, back when the district he lived in in Morell was known as Second Kings, and one particular poll that caught the interest of party workers.

"There was one person that didn't vote," he said.

"There were three parties out trying to get him to the poll to get 100 per cent turnout, but it was only 99.5 so it was a big disappointment. That's the kind of interest there was in getting the vote out."

McGuire retains a keen interest in sports from the days he reported on it, and he looks forward to attending more Panthers and Islander games in retirement. He is also aiming to break 100 in golf in 2019 — in rounds played, that is.

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With files from Island Morning


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