In praise of the paper carrier

June 2023

Before I was born, my dad, Archie Angus, held one of the favourite jobs of his life – that of the Circulation Manager of the Fort William Times Journal newspaper in the 1940’s. I was born in 1957. One of my earliest, most vivid memories with my dad was of people stopping him on the street to remind him that they had been one of his paper boys or that their son had been one. The people who stopped him, now grown men and older women, remembered Archie because of the role he played in their lives or in the lives of their sons.

During the war years, many mothers were left alone with their children because their husbands were away in the armed forces. Many of the families needed extra money, so their teenaged sons got paper routes. Archie saw that the boys also needed something more to do, with their dads gone and their moms often busy with other kids or working themselves. So, he and other staffers at the Times Journal organized sports teams. The carriers formed leagues for lacrosse and hockey. My dad had himself been an athlete. While in high school at FWCI, he won the opportunity to travel to Toronto to compete in the Ontario Secondary School Athletics competition where he won the gold medal in the 50-yard dash. I used to tease my dad that he had been the fastest runner in Ontario at one time, so walking around the block shouldn’t be as much of a challenge for him. He laughed and blamed his smoking for slowing him down! He’d also had a stint as the goalie (who didn’t wear a mask!) for the University of Toronto Blues hockey team during the one year he spent in Toronto.

When I was going through some old photos, I came across some of those photos of the Times Journal teams he coached, likely taken by one of the T.J.’s photographers. I could identify my dad in the photos but no one on the team. It’s too bad that their names aren’t listed but perhaps someone will look at these photos and recognize one of these youngsters.

I never had a paper route growing up.

I took up babysitting for a few extra dollars. My brother had been a paper boy when he was in school and he always had stories about the weather, the people that would be nice to him, as well as the challenging clients he had on his route. He said that having a paper route made him smarter because he always had to tally up what clients owed him! That was always the difficult part – getting them to pay him what he was owed.

Today, I get the newspaper delivered.

I look forward to the sudoku, the crossword, the comics, and the stories and photos that local folks submit. I have collected a few treasured clippings over the years of family members and friends when their photograph or letter appeared in the paper. I remember meeting a man who had carried around a clipping of himself and his wife when they were delivering Meals on Wheels. He had that clipping in his wallet for over 25 years.

I think about today’s paper carriers. Although many people get their news on their phones or computers, I still like to read the paper. For years we had a paper “boy” who came to our house with the Chronicle-Journal. Jim McKever was one of a kind. His route took him all over our neighbourhood for almost four hours each day. And he did this route on foot BEFORE he went to his “day” job! When Jim got sick a few years ago, he was devastated to tell us that his doctor had told him that he’d have to give up his paper route. “Imagine,” he’d told us, “a doctor telling me that I was getting too much exercise!”

Jim made friends on his route. He always stopped to talk to people and knew all the local dogs by name. He was out in all kinds of weather and when he actually took a few days off, there would be an explanatory note stapled to our paper. After he passed away, many of the people on his route were present at his Celebration of Life to recognize what this man had meant to them. Yes, he delivered the newspaper to our houses, but he was also our friend. He knew when folks were on holidays or in the hospital. You didn’t have to have a newspaper delivered to your house to benefit from his big “hello” that he’d holler across the street when he saw you.

I often see advertisements for paper carriers in the C.J. Want Ads. Many picking up these routes are retirees who enjoy a walk with a purpose and a pay cheque. Other folks pick up a route between jobs or before work. And yes, there are some young people, who, like my brother years before them, just want a little spending money. Maybe their parents encourage them to learn about responsibility and earning an allowance or perhaps they have their eye on something they want to save up for or a sports league they want to join.

For the past few years, we’ve been lucky to have a young man, now in Grade Seven, bringing our paper. Grady Satten is a charming young man who has delivered our paper on mornings when the wind is howling, the snow is falling or the rain is coming down in buckets. He’s made his way through snow drifts and slid along on the ice to make sure we get our paper. I’m so encouraged by his continuing to do this job. He has even recruited a friend to help him with the route when he has something else on.

I realize that someday he’ll retire from his job as our carrier.

I’m so grateful to Grady for bringing my paper to my house. I hope he realizes that I’m one of those clients that appreciates the effort that carriers put into getting the paper to our homes.

I also want to acknowledge the Circulation Manager, like my dad, who recruits and encourages the carriers to be proud of the work they are doing. To me, paper carriers represent one of the life lines that connects our community. My dad helped young men carry papers. Jim McKever connected with us, his neighbours with his hearty hellos. Grady Satten and others like him are following in their footsteps.

Nancy Angus is a freelance writer and regular contributor to Bayview. Contact her at

Zircon - This is a contributing Drupal Theme
Design by WeebPal.