The Border City Lance

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The name of the paper itself came from the original name of The Windsor Star. The Windsor Star began life as The Border City Star. There was, at that time, no official city called Windsor. Windsor came into being in 1893 after an amalgamation of several towns along the Detroit river. Most of the towns on the North Eastern the tip of South Western Ontario shared the name "Sandwich". The amalgamation was likely prompted less by the area's growing population and more to alleviate the confusion of having so many municipalities named after something sold at a deli counter.


In 1993, Windsor was in the grips of centennial fever. Beyond anyone's most optimistic expectations, Windsor had survived 100 years as not only a city but as part of Canada. Being a painful, boring four-hour drive from Toronto and only a five-minute drive away from Detroit, Windsor could easily be confused for a suburb of America's Motor City. The first Burger King in Canada was opened in Windsor. Windsor McDonald's restaurants were the first in Canada to serve breakfast entrees. The first American bank to open a branch in Canada was in Windsor. An American software company owned Windsor's Ontario Hockey League team. About the only thing that reminded the rest of Canada that Windsor indeed existed was that "Windsoradians" got to vote in Federal and Provincial elections. At election time, Windsor could always be counted on to send four Liberal MPs to Ottawa and four NDP MPPs to Toronto. This is probably why no level of government ever tried to sell Windsor to the USA for favorable terms.


Such was the elation that Windsor reached the centennial mark that the few bookstores Windsor had stocked no less than five different coffee table books devoted to this grim industrial city's seemingly inconsequential past. It seemed anyone with half a grasp of Windsor's past got a publishing deal. Even Windsor's most chauvinistic boosters wondered aloud if maybe there were more coffee table books than Windsor's 198,000 citizens could absorb.


Terry Brown's final April Fool's issue set out to parody this somewhat excessive back slapping ("wow, in a 100 years we never went bankrupt, we were never successfully invaded, and we were never reduced to rubble by Martian attack saucers").


The Border City Lance had two principle themes:


  1. Not much has change on campus and in the city in 100 years. The problems of 100 years ago are still problems today. The only thing that has changed is the name of the politician or university president claiming a solution was in the offing Real Soon Now.


  1. Good god, weren't women poorly treated 100 years ago by the Catholic church? Again, Terry and I could not let go of our need to take pot shots at our Catholic up brining. The University of Windsor grew out of a Catholic school called Assumption College. Most of the original teachers were clergy from the Basilian order. Basilian priests at times exceeded even the Jesuits in both their orthodoxy and zeal for physical violence against moral transgressors (i.e., students).


Of the four Lance April Fool's issues Terry and I worked on I had the least physical involvement with The Border City Lance. I worked on it remotely from Toronto, mailing Terry text and art work. Despite a physically hands-off role, three of my articles made the front page. Terry even used the arched "The Border City Lance" banner I created in CorelDraw and snail mailed to him. This was 1993. Pre-email days, eh.


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