Every day a star is born

Every day a star is born
(PIP #5)

 By Louise Peloquin

 “A little star dust caught”, posted on October 17th, conjures up Louis Biron’s routine. He continues…


Lives are full of repetitive acts. The most simple, like hugging a grandchild, reading a favorite author or having breakfast, give us the courage to carry on. At Prince Street we carry on by carrying out our tasks.

Every day, the men and women of L’Etoile Printing and Publishing adapt to the demands at hand. Their versatility explodes any stereotype about who should be doing what. Linotypists turn into translators and reporters. Publicists serve as newspaper couriers. Editors convert into canvassers, investigators and poets. Secretaries become accountants. No pair of hands, be they rough and calloused or dainty and white, shies away from handling blackened bits of lead to create catchy headlines and captivating accounts. Furthermore, everyone is an expert broom-pusher and tidy-upper. All hands on deck; tous, les mains à la pâte. (1)

All of us know a bit about the other’s specialty. Leo mentors Jeanne. Armand assists Marthe. Antoine teams up with Marguerite. Roland, Robert and Louis join the ranks to fill in the gaps. Not being chained to a single function makes for quite an exciting ambiance. How can boredom creep up on any of us?

Other key players are our mechanical “colleagues.”

The Mergenthalers

Without them, stationery, business cards, programs, order slips, let alone a foreign language newspaper, could not exist. The many components of our equipment are really the queen bees of the Prince Street hive. We pamper them by feeding them strips of lead, rolls of paper, bottles of ink, drops of oil. In turn, they deliver the panels, leaves, folios and pages which enhance our lives.

Our queens’ residence takes up the better part of our premises. They must have breathing room and we gladly provide it.

Large open space with tables

Ours are the narrow cramped corners whose austerity is most conducive to reflection. It is out of the question to print stale news or provide defective office supplies.

Biron in his office with his secretary in 1917.

While we workers buzz, our queens perform a symphony of clicks, clings, clangs, claps and occasional bings, bongs and boings. Each instrument plays to the beat of its own metronome. We never find the din cacophonous. On the contrary, it is as reassuring as the whoosh of the nearby Merrimack and as energizing as the hustle and bustle outside – the early morning passers-by filing down narrow “Petit Canada” streets rushing to work, the children gleefully pouring out of red brick buildings at the end of the school day, the fuzzy outlines of figures heading for tenements and shops at dusk. These sounds fill our lives. Silence would indicate the end of our mission, the end of our world.

Listen. That’s today’s paper going to press. Every day a new birth.

Big roll of white paper being printed.


1) French expression – everyone, hands in the dough – meaning everyone pitches in.