My wife's grandfather was a newspaperman in Montreal who accumulated a mountain of books during his career.
Several of them came into our possession a while back, including one with the letters WGN embossed importantly on the cover.
That book, published in 1922 to mark the 75th anniversary of the "World's Greatest Newspaper," offers a glowing history of Col. Robert McCormick's fabled Chicago Tribune.
That history covers the great tide of events in America from the lead-up to the Civil War to the aftermath of the Great War, in which the colonel saw battle in France. (It would be 26 years before the WGN ran the unfortunate "Dewey Defeats Truman" headline, with which some of a certain generation would come to remember the WGN.)
This year, there's another WGN-related 75th anniversary being celebrated, in the Quebec town that Col. McCormick built. Baie Comeau, the colonel's vision of a model company town, rose in 1937 from the wilderness on the spectacularly scenic North Shore of the St. Lawrence River.
McCormick's insatiable hunger for newsprint for his growing newspaper empire compelled him to expand his Canadian timber territory and, with the ready agreement of the Quebec government of the day, set up a massive operation on the North Shore to feed a paper mill.
The bustling town, incorporated in 1937, featured all the amenities and facilities, from swimming pool to library, to provide the kind of healthy family life the colonel promoted.
McCormick was a regular visitor to Baie Comeau and had built a sumptuous manor to accommodate him and his entourage. He even arranged to have radio broadcasts from Baie Comeau on his Chicago-based station, WGN, and brought in famous performers.
The colonel was also responsible for much of the industrial expansion on Quebec's North Shore. The massive dam he built in 1951 to supply power to his paper mill begat an aluminium plant, which, in turn, sparked further hydropower development in the region. The construction of the deep-water port necessary for the industrial plants attracted the massive Cargill grain silo installation.
McCormick also indirectly provided Canada with one of its more memorable prime ministers in recent years. Brian Mulroney, known throughout his political career as "the boy from Baie Comeau," was born in the town, the son of the head electrician at the colonel's paper mill.
During his years as prime minister, 1984-1993, he represented the riding containing his hometown.
It's part of the Mulroney lore that as a musically precocious young man, he was summoned to sing for the colonel whenever the powerful American boss was in town. He was mocked for this later in his career, particularly when he went to work for a big American resource company, but the jokes didn't faze him.
The colonel also left a bit of a mystery that this scribe has not yet resolved. One of the many distinctive buildings McCormick had built in the town was the lovely Tudor-style Church of St. Andrew and St. George, which also celebrates its 75th this year.
The central stained-glass window in the church is the work of Clara Fargo Thomas, heiress to the Wells Fargo/American Express fortune and an acclaimed artist in her own right.
She was also, according to a biography of McCormick, the colonel's mistress for several years. The fling apparently ended in 1931, which, apparently did not deter Clara from accepting the colonel's commission for the stunning work of art in the modest Anglican church now serving a sparse English population in a remote town in Quebec.
Seventy-five years on, the town the colonel built is still a going concern, with his paper mill, now under ownership several times removed, still churning out newsprint, and the aluminium plant undergoing a major expansion.
The WGN may not be the world's greatest anything anymore, but it created what locals and visitors alike would say is a great little town on Quebec's North Shore.
Peter Black is a radio broadcaster and writer based in Quebec City. He has worked on Parliament Hill in Ottawa, in Montreal as a newspaper reporter and editor, and as a translator and freelance writer. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.