Upstream

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Upstream got its start with a notice posted at the Ottawa Women’s Centre in January 1976 . Seven women showed up to the first planning meeting. They agreed on the need for a women’s newspaper to link up different groups and organizations in the city and, more importantly, to reach out to a general audience about issues and events that would help raise awareness and swell the ranks of the women’s movement.

The sisters who produced the very first issue in 1976 had it right:

 “Putting out this first issue has been full of surprises for all of us for although we realized there is a huge amount of news about women not covered consistently in the daily press, we have found the number of events and issues beyond our wildest expectation. We have discovered while reporting that those who say the women’s movement is dead are way off course. Women are moving out and broadening the degree of their involvement in this society every day.”

The first issue appeared in October 1976 with front-page coverage of the Canadian Labour Congress national day of protest against wage controls. Covering women at work and in the labour movement remained a focus, not without internal controversy, for the next four years. Publication ceased in July 1980.

Initial plans for an Ottawa women’s publication were ambitious. With forty active volunteers, it seemed possible to produce a bi-weekly paper with news, arts and sports coverage along with columns on the law, and on women’s physical and mental health. After five issues, it was clearly unrealistic and Upstream shifted to a monthly publishing schedule. In late 1977, the collective decided to become a national publication in order to expand both the subscription and advertising base.

Over four years, so many women came through the doors and learned about writing, design, layout, working in a collective, politics inside and outside the women’s movement, running a small business and much more. With support from the Secretary of State Women’s Programme, Upstream Typesetting was established to create a source of revenue and jobs for the paper, which continued to rely on a combination of meagre advertising and subscription revenue, government funding and mostly volunteer labour.

With so much energy spent on just getting the job done, there was little time to sharpen the editorial focus or collective decision-making process. Eventually, the flame burned out. The collective reported regularly to readers on its own progress and, in the final issue in 1980, explained the reasons for ceasing publishing. That final issue also listed other Canadian feminist newspapers, newsletters, arts and academic journals, both English and French – a grand total of 22 at that time.

Pat Daley, Upstream collective member, 1976-1980

Title Date
Upstream – Vol. 1, Issue 1 – October 1976 October 1976
Upstream – Vol. 1, Issue 10 – September/October 1977 Autumn 1977
Upstream – Vol. 1, Issue 2 – November 1976 November 1976
Upstream – Vol. 1, Issue 3 – December 1976 December 1976
Upstream – Vol. 1, Issue 4 – December 1976 December 1976
Upstream – Vol. 1, Issue 5 – April 1978 April 1978
Upstream – Vol. 1, Issue 6 – March 1977 March 1977
Upstream – Vol. 1, Issue 7 – April 1977 April 1977
Upstream – Vol. 1, Issue 8 – May/June 1977 May, June 1977
Upstream – Vol. 1, Issue 9 – July/August 1977 Summer 1977
Upstream – Vol. 2, Issue 1- November 1977 November 1977
Upstream – Vol. 2, Issue 2 – December 1977 December 1977
Upstream – Vol. 2, Issue 4 – May 1978 May 1978
Upstream – Vol. 2, Issue 5 – June 1978 June 1978
Upstream – Vol. 2, Issue 6 – July 1978 July 1978
Upstream – Vol. 2, Issue 7 – August 1978 August 1978
Upstream – Vol. 2, Issue 8 – September 1978 September 1978
Upstream – Vol. 3, Issue 1 – October 1978 October 1978
Upstream – Vol. 3, Issue 10 – October/November 1979 Autumn 1979
Upstream – Vol. 3, Issue 2 – January 1979 January 1979
Upstream – Vol. 3, Issue 3 – February 1979 February 1979
Upstream – Vol. 3, Issue 4 – March/April 1979 Spring 1979
Upstream – Vol. 3, Issue 5 – May 1979 May 1979
Upstream – Vol. 3, Issue 6 – June 1979 June 1979
Upstream – Vol. 3, Issue 7 – July 1979 July 1979
Upstream – Vol. 3, Issue 8 – August 1979 August 1979
Upstream – Vol. 3, Issue 9 – September 1979 September 1979
Upstream – Vol. 4, Issue 1 – December 1979 December 1979
Upstream – Vol. 4, Issue 2 – January 1980 January 1980
Upstream – Vol. 4, Issue 3 – March 1980 March 1980
Upstream – Vol. 4, Issue 4 – April 1980 April 1980
Upstream – Vol. 4, Issue 5 – July 1980 July 1980

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Upstream

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