Mayor Gregor Robertson declares today as Georgia Straight 50th Anniversary Day

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      Fifty years ago today, a radical hippie newspaper with an odd name rolled off the presses for the first time.

      The Georgia Straight was unlike anything ever published in Vancouver before.

      Stridently opposed to the Vietnam War and equally as passionate for the future of the planet, the Straight and its editor, Dan McLeod, were relentlessly harassed by the authorities, who accused the paper of being obscene.

      There were multiple arrests and the business licence was revoked, yet the Straight continued exposing the often heavy hand of the law.

      There was even an internal staff revolt, which fizzled out after McLeod won a court case against the rebels.

      Today, the paper remains proudly independent under the McLeod family's ownership.

      And to celebrate the publication's golden birthday, Mayor Gregor Robertson has declared this to be Georgia Straight 50th Anniversary Day.

      A proclamation from the mayor's office points out that the City of Vancouver believes in supporting local arts and has adopted the Agenda 21 policy statement recognizing that culture is the fourth pillar of sustainable development.

      It also notes that the "creative economy is vital to Vancouver's economic and environmental well-being".

      "The Georgia Straight has been nurturing artists, the creative economy and promoting environmental awareness in the City of Vancouver for 50 years," the proclamation states.

      Publisher Dan McLeod (right) refused to give up even when municipal governments tried to ban distribution of the Georgia Straight.
      Fred Davidoff

      Fifty years ago, the city's mayor, Tom Campbell, wanted to run the Georgia Straight out of town.

      Thirty-five years ago, the Southam family-controlled newspaper chain wanted to put the Straight out of business.

      Twenty years ago, Conrad Black's newspaper company, which owned the Vancouver Sun and Province, would have been happy to see the Straight go kaput.

      Ten years ago, the Asper family-controlled CanWest, which took over the two Vancouver metropolitan dailies, would have been pleased to witness the Straight's demise.

      But McLeod outlasted all of them: Southam, Conrad Black, and the Aspers. And on this day, McLeod's family-owned newspaper is the toast of the city.

      Nobody could have predicted this on May 5, 1967. Least of all Tom Campbell.

      Video: Watch The Last Streetfighter: The HIstory of the Georgia Straight, an award-winning 47 minute documentary by Tony Wade and Tom Crighton.