The Georgia Straight was created in May 1967 as an anti-establishment alternative to the conservative daily newspapers. And its arrival created an uproar.
It was raided by the Vancouver police and fined for criticizing a judge and publishing obscenities, banned from distribution on city streets, and its founder, poet and UBC math student Dan McLeod, was thrown in jail.
But the straight soldiered on despite the harassment, and became the first Vancouver newspaper to give voice to Greenpeace. In fact, Straight contributors Bob Cummings, Irving Stowe and Paul Watson — who went on to found the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society — were among the founders and prominent campaigners for Greenpeace.
In the mid-1970s, McLeod hired a young Irish writer named Bob Geldof, who was the music editor before going on to form the Boomtown Rats and later achieving international fame as a humanitarian.
Since those early days—which included staunch opposition to the Vietnam War, strong support for sensible environmental policies, and a commitment to free speech and equal rights for everyone—the Georgia Straight has become a thriving, award-winning urban weekly paper and multimedia company with a strong focus on alternative news, arts, music, movies, and countless other subjects.
The McLeod family still owns the paper, which had more than 840,000 readers in its last readership survey. The straight.com website has over 650,000 unique readers and generates over two million page views per month.
Former Georgia Straight contributor Tom Crighton and Tony Wade, both residents of England, produced The Last Streetfighter: The History of the Georgia Straight, which was filmed in 1997. Crighton was also the writer and Wade was the director. It was shot by veteran Vancouver cameraman John Collins, and it won the Best Documentary and the Best of the Festival awards at the CANPRO Awards, which honoured Canadian television programming.