RIP Dennis Morgan, victim of the automobile

RIP Dennis Morgan, 63, of illness related to car dependency

Every Saturday morning around 4:45 we awaken to the “thump” on our front porch of the delivery of that day’s Toronto Star and Get Fuzzy paper. Then we go back to sleep for a couple hours. We know that downstairs on our weatherbeaten porch the outer layers of the paper are soaking in moisture, gradually expanding. It used to be the outer layers of the paper were just one section thick, but as the expansion has taken place over the years, it’s gone to two, three and even (to our groggy and unbelieving eyes) four sections. Yes, we’re talking about the so-called “Wheels” section [should be called “motors” because you’ll never read about anything without one there–ed.] of the Saturday paper.

We always thought it was because of the wet front porch, and the absorptive qualities of the newsprint, that the “Wheels” section expanded in this way. We often vowed to rouse ourselves earlier, to see if we couldn’t get down there before the section got started in its expansion. We hoped one day to get there just as the paper was sent flying toward our wet boards, to intercept its trajectory and save ourselves from some of that “Wheels” gunk.

But we learned today we would’ve been wasting our time trying. Fact is, the Wheels section has expanded by design. We read today it’s all because of the evil predations of one man: Dennis Morgan, founding “editor” of the Wheels and Car Advertiser section of the Star. You can read the story above (link at Morgan’s photo), if you are as much of a masochist as we imagine you to be. The gist is as follows: it appears Dennis Morgan, a self-described “car nut,” joined the Star and Car Advertiser in 1976 as a young Turk from Wales. His earliest days, in the paperclip department, are lost to the shrouds of time, however within ten years the noted machiavel found the opportunity he’d been waiting for. The Star decided to create a new section of the paper, to contain classified car ads and relocate the so-called “car journalism” in one place. In Jim Kenzie [who he?–ed.]’s words:

Morgan, well-known for his enthusiasm of all things automotive, was afforded the opportunity to co-ordinate this effort, which was to include moving the technical “My car goes clunk – why?” column, then written by the late Ray Stapley, from the Sunday paper, and my road test column from beneath the rutabaga recipes in the Monday Life section, and creating an automotive section in the Saturday Star, the week’s largest-circulation edition.

Morgan saw well beyond this production scheduling convenience and envisioned a proper automotive section along the lines of what he had known growing up in England. It has far surpassed that, to the point where Wheels is by far the largest newspaper automotive section in North America.

Got that? “Wheels is by far the largest newspaper automotive section in North America.” And it’s all because of one man, Dennis Morgan.

Pure evil? Or just a minion of the evil around us. You decide.

The reason any of this is news, of course, is because Mr. Morgan died the other day, a victim of the automobile: at 63, the car-dependent fellow was felled by heart attack.

Here’s to the “health” of rest of the Wheels editors! Warm up your engines, it’s time for a drive to the gym!

One Response to “RIP Dennis Morgan, victim of the automobile”


    Some say the ALLDERBLOB lacks a heart. Morgan had polio as a youth, you know. He couldn't even drive a stickshift, according to his obituary in the Star and Car Advertiser. Some would say the man was to be pitied, not despised.

    Exactly how we have long felt about Jacob Richler.

    We feel for Morgan's family. Morgan was nothing more than a tool in the hands of much bigger forces. If it wasn't him, it would've been someone else steering "Wheels" to its present situation.

    Consider the following, also from the Star's obit:

    The Wheels section, which "he was forever proud of," brought the Star tremendous credibility with auto manufacturers, said [former Star publisher John] Honderich, adding that it also earned a windfall in ad revenues.

    "I think (Morgan) was surprised by the success of that section," recalled managing editor Joe Hall, adding not only did Morgan care deeply about content, but also how to display it creatively.

    "He always used to joke that he should've asked for one per cent of the revenues that the Wheels section brought in, rather than a salary, so he could've retired years ago.

    Nuff said. Truly a lamentable situation.

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