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Amidst a storm of anti-hippie sentiment, the first issue of The Georgia Straight appears on Vancouver’s streets, with a cover price of ten cents.
“It was fuelled by large amounts of idealism,” Pierre Coupey, one of the Straight’s original founding editors, will explain, in a 2010 interview with The Dependent. “The idea was to give voice to an anger against establishment values, and their assumption of power. People were crying for a voice. It was fundamentally, in the beginning, opposed to private ownership, and was designed primarily as a collective to fight for social justice. Vancouver had, at that time, a very repressive Mayor, Tom Campbell, and there was a very repressive ethos within the police force. It was the beginnings of drug culture. We were finding a sense of ourselves as writers and activists, and we had a desire to work for social justice. There was a sense among us that the World Order needed to change, and we felt that we were in a position to affect that change. It was this convergence of energies, where one refuses to knuckle under, and behave oneself.”
The Straight is one of dozens of underground, activist publications that have sprung up all over North America, making up the Underground Press Syndicate, whose other member publications include such papers as the East Village Other, the Los Angeles Free Press, and The Inquisition. The paper is tied directly to the city’s growing hippie community, and several of its creators and early contributors -including Rick Kitaeff, Dan McLeod, and “Zip” Almasy, are already well-known counterculture figures, known to both the public, and the police.
“At one time I had an escort of 2 or 3 police cars following me on a regular basis,”Coupey will recall. “We were always getting tickets and getting pulled over for minor infractions. Rick Kitaeff fought most of that in court; he got more tickets than all of us.”
The paper will create such a controversy, that not a single printer in town will dare to touch the second issue.
However, by the end of 1967, its circulation will be well over 60,000.
Image: Interior image from an issue of the Georgia Straight, circa 1967.