Ottawa Citizen Redesign

As someone who used to make up the front page of a daily newspaper using bits of paper and wax, I take more than a usual interest in the design of newspaper front pages. And so it was interesting to see the redesigned Ottawa citizen today.

Here’s Saturday’s paper, with the old design, on the left, compared to today’s paper, with the new design, on the right:

Ottawa Citizen Cover: before and after redesign

The new design certainly owes a lot to the USA Today redesign from 2012, albeit using squares rather than circles and a calmer colour palette. I was always a fan of the old flag – the “Ottawa” and “Citizen” separated by a rendering of the clock tower on Parliament Hill – but I admire the newly-conceived “works as an icon” version too. I’d love to get my hands on a paper copy; I’ll have to wait until it arrives at the public library later this week.

Droopy Quotes

You may recall my “krisis,” written about here last week, wherein I found myself without any capital K in 12 point Bodini, an important gap as I had to set the name Carl F. Klinck as part of the Confederation Country Cabinet project.

I’m happy to report that the krisis has been averted: my typefounder performed yeoman service and quickly cast and shipping sufficient K to keep me going. While he was at it, I had him cast some capital G, some capital B and some quotations marks, the later allowing me to change:

— from Letter to Canadians by Jack Layton (1950-2011), August 20, 2011.


— from ‘Letter to Canadians’ by Jack Layton (1950-2011), August 20, 2011.

The type arrived on Friday, and I sorted it into the type case this morning and in doing so I learned that not all quotation marks are created equal: there are “droopy quotes” and “66/99” quotes.

For my #375 Bodini, the Swamp Press type catalog entry looks like this:

Bodini 375

Notice how the quotation marks in the face look like this (and are “droopy”):

Droopy Quotes

Compare this to the Swamp Press type sample for #137 Caslon Old Style:

where the quotation marks provided are of the “66/99” style:


What this means is that there are actually two ways of setting the quotation marks for ‘Letter to Canadians’:

These variants are described in the book Designing Type as follows:

Although modern digital systems now provide a specific key and code for quotation marks, the form of the quote remains the same: a pair of evenly-spaced commas. While some designers prefer a top-heavy orientation (also called ‘droopy quotes’), the normal configuration is ‘66’ and ‘99’.

In my case it will be less “preference” and more “circumstance” that makes me a “droopy quote” man.

I thought it might be useful to print myself a visual aid to help setting quotes droopily, but it turned out that all I need to concern myself with is that the “tails” of the quotation marks point inwards:

I had no idea about any of this until an hour ago: setting type is a neverending learning experience.

Everything You Wanted to Know about Iced Tea

It’s 24ºC outside as I write, the warmest it’s been all year. And so it’s a good time to revisit this CBC Mainstreet piece I recorded a decade ago in 2004 about iced tea many years ago with host Matthew Rainnie.

It may be my favourite piece of radio of all those I’ve ever produced, and it’s clear that I was channeling both Ann Thurlow and the late, great Marg Meikle, my radio mentors.

Matthew was, and remains, one of the easiest people to do a back-and-forth on the radio with: he’s inveterately curious and has an appreciation for the quirk. I had so much fun doing the research for this piece.

So pour yourself a tall glass of iced tea, sweetened or not as your preference dictates, and have a listen…

(In September of 2004 I went on to do the piece in radio syndication, deliverying a variation of what I did with Matt with 12 CBC radio hosts across the country in the course of a single afternoon; it was both facsinating and mind-numbing).

A Week of Dog Guide Fundraising

Hachi Poster for Charlottetown, May 24, 2014.Over the last six months I have become intimately aware of what a great organization Dog Guides Canada is. From initial application for an autism assistance dog for Oliver a year ago, through our in-home interview in the fall, our acceptance in early 2014, our 10 days of training at their facility in Oakville in March and the follow-up they provide now and onward, Dog Guides is an amazing group of dedicated people devoted to a noble cause: provide dog guides to Canadians who need them, at no cost.

It’s hard not to feel a tremendous urge to financially support the efforts of Dog Guides when you’re living the benefits every day, and when, like us, you’ve been embedded in their Oakville facility and have learned about how dogs can assist a broad range of people live better lives.

And so next week we’re launching ourselves into a week of fundraising for Dog Guides Canada.

On Saturday, May 24 at 2:00 p.m. Oliver and I are sponsoring a screening of the film Hachi: A Dog’s Tale at City Cinema in Charlottetown. Tickets are $20 each, $15 for children, and are available online in advance or at the door. All proceeds from ticket sales go directly to Dog Guides Canada. If you are a lover of dogs (or even if you aren’t), Hachi is, dare I say, a “heartwarming tale” about the love between a man and his dog. It’s a tale of both sadness and joy. I really enjoyed seeing it in London, by chance, and I’m happy to bring it to Charlottetown. Please come if you can (there’s even a Facebook Event if you want more information and to share with friends and family).

The next day, Sunday, May 25 starting at 1:00 p.m., Oliver and Catherine and I are walking in the Purina Walk for Dog Guides as “Team Ethan” with the Lions Club of Winsloe. Lions Clubs across Canada are generous benefactors of Dog Guides Canada: the walls of the Oakville facility are recognize millions of dollars of support that have come from Lions over the years. The “Walk for Dog Guides” is a great opportunity for those with dog, dog guides and not, to go for a walk on a crisp spring day to raise funds for the program.  If you’d like to support Team Ethan with a donation right now, please visit the Team Ethan page and click “Make a Donation.”

And if you’ve got a dog in your life you’d like to take for a walk, and you’re willing to help raise a little money, whether you’re in Charlottetown or not, visit the Purina Walk for Dog Guides website and find the location nearest you.

Oliver at the Virtual Poetry Summit

I’d been hearing Frances Squire talk about the Virtual Poetry Summit for several years now, mostly in the vein of “gee it would be nice of the technology in Island schools supported this sort of collaboration,” but I hadn’t really been paying close attention to what the summit was actually all about.

Until this morning when it came time for Oliver to share his poem with students in New Jersey, Iowa, Pennsylvania and PEI over a Google Hangout. He came up with the poem on the way to Louisbourg in 2008.

When we talk about “computers in the schools,” it’s easy to fall into the trap of imagining the “data processing” aspects of computers as being what we’re talking about – and it’s rare in these discussions that poetry is top-of-mind.

I’m so proud of Oliver for participating, and proud of Frances and Birchwood for overcoming significant technical hurdles to allow them to be part of this event.