In October 1918, a four-sheet newspaper appeared in the shacks that served as a campus for the fledgling University of British Columbia. It had an odd name with an odd spelling, a rhyming corruption of The Odyssey invoking the university’s initials. For one hundred years, the Ubyssey newspaper has outraged, entertained and, on occasion, informed its readers. It has been called the greatest school of journalism in the land, producing poets, pundits, humorists, reporters, judges, financiers and even a prime minister.
Over the years, readers have found much to admire in the paper’s pages. In its early days, the Ubyssey argued for the hiring of a dean of women and crusaded against the brutality of fraternity hazing. During World War II, it defended the right of Canadian-born students of Japanese descent to continue their studies. While the commercial press timidly obeyed the censorship dictates of Ottawa during the October Crisis of 1970, the Ubyssey staff bravely risked arrest by publishing full accounts of events in Quebec.
Author Tom Hawthorn was co-editor of the Ubyssey from 1979 to ’80. His centennial retrospective of the people behind the newspaper includes the likes of Earle Birney, Pierre Berton, Lawrence Hill, George Bowering, Allan Fotheringham, Joe Schlesinger, Sarah Galashan, John Turner, Katherine Monk and many more. In signature Hawthorn style, The Vilest Rag You Can Imagine is fun, informative and cheeky.