Vancouver Province

When you worked for the University of BC newspaper The Ubyssey, which I did during my third and fourth years there, I recall that you might get a journalism job working for Pacific Press (Vancouver Province or Vancouver Sun) after you graduated. I don't remember if you would work there during summer vacation between academic years.

I contacted The Province in the spring of 1969 and, as a result, I got a job doing freelance reviews for the entertainment section of the paper, where the editor was a fellow named Norman Wilson.

After about a dozen articles, I was sent to cover the Vancouver International Film Festival, which was sort of like throwing someone who doesn't know how to swim into the ocean.

Reviewing some of the films was pretty hairy, because The Province had deadlines by which reviews had to be completed if they were to appear in the next day's paper. I don't remember what the exact time of these deadlines were, probably something like 12:30 a.m. or 1:00 a.m.

As a result, I learned to write reviews very fast. In the case of the film festival, I would emerge from the Vancouver Playhouse, where the films were being shown, sometimes before the film wasn't even finished, hail a cab and get a ride, paid for by the paper, to Granville Street and 7th Avenue where the Pacific Press building that housed both The Province and Sun was located.

When I covered events like the Vancouver Symphony which were on Sunday afternoon, I had a lot more time to do reviews for the Monday paper, and usually a lot more space to fill.

From the beginning of my summer break in 1969 and occasionally through my final year at UBC until my graduation in the spring of 1970, I did around 100 reviews for The Province, though many near the end of this period were record reviews.

Some of the reviews I wrote were not particularly good. One of them, of a Joni Mitchell-like folk singer, was very nasty. It's been over 50 years since I did that, but I'd like to apologize to the woman if she is still around, sort of like a member of Alcoholics Anonymous who apologizes to people he or she may have harmed years after the fact. (I was interested to read more recently that my counterpart at the Vancouver Sun Lloyd Dykk, who wrote a review of this concert, was also not too kind to her.)

One of my favorite assignments, which I convinced the conservative management of the paper to let me do, was to cover the Seattle Pop Festival from July 25 to July 27, 1969. I drove with Vlad Keremidschieff, a freelance photographer whose work appeared in The Province as well as other local publications, to this event which took place on the outskirts of Seattle. At night, we crashed in the parking lot in Vlad's Karmann Ghia.

There was a wide variety of musical groups appearing at the festival over the three days, including Albert Collins, Alice Cooper, Bo Diddley, The Byrds, Charles Lloyd, Chicago Transit Authority, Chuck Berry, The Flying Burrito Brothers, Guess Who, Ike & Tina Turner Revue, It's a Beautiful Day, Led Zeppelin, Lee Michaels, Santana, Ten Years After, The Doors, Tim Buckley, Vanilla Fudge, and The Youngbloods. In 2013, Vlad published a book which contains some pictures from this festival. He also has a page on Facebook devoted to his photos.

Sending my reviews to the head office over the phone, I had to first write them (probably by hand, no computers in those days) and dictate them word by word to some guy on the other end in Vancouver who sounded like he had better things to do (no modems in those days either).

From mid-1970 to 1972, I was kind of preoccupied with working at and writing for The Georgia Straight and The Grape, though I still contributed to The Province occasionally. I was away in Japan from November 1972 to August 1973, and when I returned, I started freelancing at The Province again, writing over 100 more reviews until 1976, when I stopped because I was making the same amount of money per review ($25 each) which I had made since I started there 7 years before.

Aside from my own clippings, I managed to track down almost all but one of the articles from The Province via the ProQuest service at the Vancouver Public Library. I am told they are also available on Only one article was untraceable, a review of recordings by Schoenberg, which I think fell through the cracks between the different "star" editions. This picture shows what's on the front and also the back of that review, which looks like something written by David Rodger, who was a director at the Vancouver Planetarium.

Click here to see a list of all my articles that I wrote for The Province over the next 7 years. Articles which have some special interest, most of which are connected with classical music, have the dates in red.

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