Yesterday’s News: May 1970

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Back in1970, the McGill News surveyed the growing popularity of recreational drugs among students. Also, the McGill Daily’s founding editor delivers some shocking news about the Red Baron.

It had been only 10 years since Harvard psychologist Timothy Leary began experimenting with hallucinogens – turning on – and students at campuses all over North America were doing some experimenting of their own. McGill was no exception, and the editors of the News decided to “put the campus drug scene into perspective.”

They started with a primer on the more popular drugs, including marijuana, LSD, mescaline, hash and heroin, offering “a description of their gratifications—and some of their dangers.” They also helpfully explained terms like “pusher” and “freaked out.” Interviews with students indicated that marijuana was the drug of choice, with about one-third of students having smoked it in the last year. In fact, during the fall of 1969, the lounge of the University Centre on McTavish had become a major marketplace for Montreal drug dealers and drifters, most of them non-students. After a knife fight over sales territory, the lounge was closed down and the “booming drug market crashed.”

Students mostly tried drugs at parties or were introduced to them by frat brothers or club members. However, for one final-year law student, it was a family affair. He introduced his parents to hash and smoked it with them at their Cote St. Luc apartment. “They dig the stuff as much as I do,” he declared.

The News also reported that the search was still on for a principal to replace H. Rocke Robertson, but a new chancellor had been chosen. Donald Olding Hebb, a world-renowned psychologist, was to fill the largely ceremonial role – although his selection seemed a little puzzling. He told the media he had “no great taste for convocation” and grumbled that he wasn’t looking forward to filling his obligation to attend Senate meetings. “I was on Senate for six years and it was bad enough then. From what I hear, it’s worse now.”

The issue’s obituaries included William E. Gladstone Murray, BA’12, founder of the McGill Daily. Apparently Stephen Leacock had encouraged him to turn a weekly called the Martlet into a student paper. Murray won a Rhodes Scholarship, interrupting his studies at Oxford to join Britain’s Royal Flying Corps when the First World War broke out. As a wing commander, he was selected to fly over a German airfield and drop a note to inform the Germans that their air ace, Baron von Richthofen (the Red Baron) had been shot down.

Murray joined the BBC in 1923 and founded three corporation magazines, among them the Radio Times which is still being published. He came back to Canada at the invitation of Prime Minister R.B. Bennett to advise on broadcasting and went on to head the CBC when it was formed in 1936.

by Diana Grier Ayton

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