Blast to the past: the Novae Res and the Glebe Gazette

The Nova Res on June 1984 – a banner year that saw production of 25 issues of the paper. Photo: Courtesy of GCI

This article was originally published in the September 2019 issue of the Glebe Gazette. Reprinted with permission.

By Hannah Bindman

Long before the days of Kachi columns and articles detailing the strange pursuits of the school’s Lettuce Club, the newspaper of choice at Glebe Collegiate Institute was the Novae Res. Unlike the current school paper, the Glebe Gazette, which is run as a student-led club, the Novae Res (“new thing” in Latin) was actually an accredited course led by a teacher. Archives of the old Novae Res papers date from 2003 back to 1965.

Not surprisingly, producing a school newspaper in 2019 is much different than producing one more than 50 years ago. Technology today allows us to compile the Gazette on a computer one day and submit it electronically for printing the next; back in the days of the Novae Res, production had to be carefully regulated in order to stay on time and ensure that every edition was published on schedule. When we set out to create a new school newspaper, we had to answer several questions before we were allowed to proceed: Who would write our articles? How would we compile the newspapers? How would we print our newspapers? As it turns out, putting out the Novae Res was a much more complicated operation.

Glebe resident Ian McKercher, who taught at Glebe from 1969 to 1995, was in charge of the Novae Res for about seven years in the 1970s. He grew up in London, Ontario, studied at Queen’s University and then attended teachers’ college. During one of his mandatory teaching placements, he ended up at Glebe, teaching English under the wing of Brian Doyle who later became a celebrated author. After 26 years at the school, Mr. McKercher moved to the Ottawa Carleton District School Board before retiring to focus on his own writing. He has since released three novels, period pieces set in Ottawa. This summer, we met him in his Glebe home to talk about his experiences running the school newspaper – and the differences between then and now.

Since the Novae Res was run as a class, he said, students were able to devote more time and effort to the newspaper. “Some of those students even ended up becoming real journalists,” Mr. McKercher told us. Nowadays, we accept all interested students for the Gazette; students who wanted to write for the Novae Res had to submit written work as an application, and Mr. McKercher chose the best writers. Because of additional time and more access to resources, the Novae Res staff was able to produce a new edition every two weeks; the Gazette puts out only seven a year.

Hearing Mr. McKercher explain the process of printing, designing and formatting the paper made us appreciate the relative simplicity of the modern technology we use now. To compile the Gazette, we sit down at a computer and, led by Mr. Fried, use a design program to put in photographs, articles and headlines. We can even use the previous month’s edition and simply filter in new content. It was far different at the Novae Res. Mr. McKercher explained the complicated process of manually justifying paragraphs, then copying and pasting onto the newspaper outline. For the first few years, the Novae Res was printed commercially but that proved too expensive so Mr. McKercher arranged to use a press after hours at a nearby vocational school. A night class was set up for students to get the paper printed. Later, they switched to using a large, industrial printer in Glebe’s main office.

Though the method and name of the Glebe’s official school newspaper might have changed over time, the sentiment remains the same. “This is the record of the school,” Mr. McKercher said at one point. “It’s going to last one hundred years.” He’s right about that. The school archives are filled with copies of school newspapers dating back decades. When you sit and thumb through them all, you can’t help but be struck by the long history of Glebe Collegiate. The Novae Res and Mr. McKercher are a part of this long history, but as he said, the Glebe Gazette and the students of the 2019-20 school year are the future.

Hannah Bindman is a Grade 12 student at Glebe Collegiate Institute and co-founder and co-editor-in-chief of the Glebe Gazette.

This is an excerpt from an article originally published in the October 2018 issue of the Glebe Gazette. Reprinted with permission.

The Novae Res, precursor to the Glebe Gazette

By Matthew Loukine

As Hannah Bindman and I began to do our research to create this new newspaper, the Glebe Gazette, we found hundreds of newspapers simply lying around in a filing cabinet. They turned out to be copies of a newspaper that was the predecessor of ours – it was known as the Novae Res. We had discovered a wonderful assortment of archives that went as far back as 1965.

After reading a few copies, we quickly realized this was a gold mine; we had discovered valuable historical documents of Glebe Collegiate Institute. The papers describe an unquantifiable variety of past events at Glebe. The newspaper ran student opinion pieces which revealed that past students shared some of the same issues that we face today. A constant flow of sports news spills from page to page. Cartoons, sketches and fonts galore dot every article. Every piece of writing and art has a name attached – some of those students are perhaps parents of today’s students. Every year, the newspaper added new ideas and concepts, forever growing and evolving. A notable year is 1984 when the Novae Res crew set a record by producing 25 editions during the school year. We noticed that the paper became more critical of the school as the years went by, as students seemed to become less afraid of voicing their opinions. In one copy, students tore apart the editor of the paper, saying that printing the exam schedule would be far more interesting than the pieces on the student council. Students even publicly critiqued the English department for setting high standards on student essays.

At the time, the Novae Res was the golden age of student journalism at Glebe Collegiate. So what happened to it? Well, it’s pretty simple really – people went online.

Matthew Loukine is a Grade 12 student at Glebe Collegiate Institute and co-founder and co-editor-in-chief of the Glebe Gazette.

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