The Liverpool building that once housed the now shuttered weekly newspaper, the Queens County Advance, has been named in honour of one of the publication’s former editors, G. Cecil Day.
Those who knew Day remember him as a staunch supporter of the community he adopted as his home in 1931 and describe him as a fearless champion of the place where he plied his journalistic craft. They say the newspaper was his passion and pride, so naming the Main Street building where the paper was located in his memory is a fitting tribute.
In a presentation to Queens Regional Council in early September, Day’s daughter, Beverly Burlock, said she was concerned that since returning home in 2001, she became increasingly aware of how few people remembered her father, let alone even knew about him.
“Upon my return, out of both interest and curiosity, I went to the museum to see what they had about him in their files,” she explained.
“I discovered very little, and also, to my horror, that the photo they had was not even of him.”
Burlock said she completely understood why the paper, like so many weeklies, was shut down recently. However, she said, she was dismayed there was nothing in the final edition about him, except one mere mention in a cutline under a photo of the building.
In his lifetime, Day, who immigrated from Wales, U.K. to Canada at age 13 with his family, spent 51 years as a newspaperman, but Burlock said her father did not become rich through the media.
“Everything was re-invested back into the business,” she said. “We likely will never know how much Cecil contributed financially to things, such as the hospital. However, there is no doubt that he always contributed substantial free publicity, advertising and printing to the hospital, as well as to most other worthy causes. And he never blew his own horn.”
Burlock explained that her father could have turned tail and ran in 1931 when he first saw the newspaper facilities in Liverpool.
“Since he’d already had considerable experience with several others; more adequately housed and equipped papers around the province,” she said, “It must have been quite a heart-stopping shock … that bare-bones, 18×28 barn behind the post office.”
But he stayed. She explained that in the early days, her father used to go around on Fridays to collect partial bill payments so his staff would be paid.
“He not only promoted this town, county and province, as well as every worthwhile project until the day he died, he also invested himself fully during the 45 years he lived here. And he succeeded against many obstacles, all odds.”
He received recognitions from overseas and many national and provincial news trophies for his efforts. Yet, sadly, Burlock said, he wasn’t always treated well.
“And it wasn’t always easy being his daughter, either,” Burlock added.
“I caught it from schoolmates echoing their parents’ conversations after particularly challenging editorials. Nonetheless, he never refrained when he saw injustice or what he thought was important for discussion. Apparently, he would himself sometimes write letters to the editor — and respond — to get conversations going.”
The logo on the paper and all business stationary was of the main office door with the slogan: “Open door to Queens County.”
The Queens County Advance office, located at 271 Main St., was the heart and hub of Liverpool back then, Burlock said.
“Countless people were in and out daily, at all hours. Numerous community correspondents delivering their columns, people buying or renewing subscriptions, correcting addresses, bringing news information, wedding photos and writeups, curious items, advertising copy, printing orders, needing office supplies,” she recalled. “On Thursdays, there were lineups to buy the paper.”
And more often than not, people merely wanted to chat with Day, get his opinion and to argue. Or just seeing him as they passed the window. They’d come in to say “hi.”
“Anybody and everybody were equally welcomed.”
The Queens County Advance was a voice for sharing and receiving local news, events and meetings. For providing important information, especially actions and decisions by all levels of government, as well as a voice for citizen complaints and concerns, Burlock said.
“At one time, all governments took very seriously the voice of the people they got through community newspapers, from the news, the letters and the editorials,” she said. “If a community newspaper got behind an issue, that was a voice, a strength and a power to be reckoned with. The Advance stood up for people with the municipal government, for the people, town and county with both provincial and federal governments.”
In 1976, during the 57th convention of the Canadian Weekly Newspaper Association (CWNA) in Halifax, Day was awarded the Sydney R. Stone trophy, as being recognized for his 61-years of service as a newsman. This was only the seventh time in CWNA history that that trophy had been awarded.
The trophy inscription read: “In recognition of meritorious achievement in the service of their fellow man and their community, with great appreciation for their ceaseless effort and personal self-sacrifice.”
He died a week later on Aug. 21, at age 78, in the Queens County Advance’s 99th year.
To celebrate the life and legacy of Day, family members, former employees, local residents and government officials gathered at 271 Main St. on Sept. 18 to unveil a plaque on the same building that Day had built in 1940.
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