Toronto Star | The Canadian Encyclopedia


Toronto Star

Founded in 1892, the Toronto Star (originally the Evening Star and later the Toronto Daily Star) grew under the direction of Joseph E. Atkinson, who became editor and manager of the newspaper in 1899. The newspaper was officially named the Toronto Star in 1971. As of April 2015, the Toronto Star is Canada’s largest daily newspaper.

Joseph E. Atkinson

Joseph E. Atkinson

The Toronto Star was originally established in 1892 as the Evening Star and later renamed the Toronto Daily Star in 1900. In 1899 its Liberal proprietors hired Joseph E. Atkinson to run the newspaper and by 1913 he had become the majority shareholder. Until Atkinson's death in 1948, the Star reflected the highly personal style of journalism he preferred. Stressing human interest and local issues over broader coverage, Atkinson made his paper dominant in the Toronto area, and then across the south-central portion of Ontario. At the same time, he maintained a liberal attitude to public affairs and used his newspaper to advocate a left of centre point of view. In 1910 he established the Toronto Star Weekly (later Star Weekly), which addressed the absence of Sunday newspapers in Canada.

20th Century

Writing at the Star was determinedly lively. In the 1920s and 1930s, writers included Morley Callaghan, Ernest Hemingway, Gordon Allan Sinclair and Gregory Clark. The Star's political stance earned it the enmity of Ontario's Conservative government during the 1940s. (See also Conservative Party) After Atkinson's death in 1948 the Star was left to the Atkinson Charitable Foundation. This resulted in the Government of Ontario to pass the Charitable Gifts Act (see Provincial Government in Canada). This Act limited charities from owning more than 10 per cent of a private company. The Act was eventually amended to give charities seven years to divest their business interests. In 1958, five trustees of the Atkinson Charitable Foundation purchase the Star under the Toronto Star Ltd (renamed Torstar Corporation in 1977).

Under Harry Hindmarsh, Atkinson's son-in-law, the Star became more partisan and was closely identified with the federal Liberal Party. After Hindmarsh's death in 1956, the paper recovered some of its independence, although it continued to favour the nationalist wing of the Liberal Party and particularly its spokesman, Walter Lockhart Gordon.


The 1960s and 1970s brought expansion and prosperity to the Star, which dominated the Toronto evening newspaper field after its longtime rival, The Toronto Telegram, ended publication in 1971. The Star would also introduce a Sunday edition in 1973 and a morning edition in 1981. In 1996, the Toronto Star launched its news website. Since 1 March 1999, the Toronto Star has been affiliated with 4 other dailies through TorStar Corporation, including the Hamilton Spectator, the Kitchener-Waterloo Record, the Guelph Mercury and the Cambridge Reporter. TorStar purchased these papers from Quebecor for $335 million.

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