Stan Morris started at Maple Leaf in 1948

Stan Morris making notes
Former Maple Leaf editor and publisher Stan Morris at work in 2010. Photo by Chas. Mitchell

Remained active at the paper until his death

STAN Morris, who for over seven decades reported on the news and events in Port Dover for the Maple Leaf and who guided the local company into the computerized era as its publisher and owner, died in his sleep on December 21st at his home in Port Dover. He was 90.

Stan grew up in the Port Dover of the 1930s and the years of World War Two. He attended the former Port Dover Public School on Main Street. In his mid-teens, his parents registered him at Pickering College in Newmarket for two years. Stan enjoyed the first year there but wanted so much to start writing stories and reporting for the paper that his parents eventually agreed he didn’t have to attend the second year and he joined the staff of the Maple Leaf in 1948 at age 17. Years later he would tell his grandchildren the importance of a good education and wished he had gone back for the second year to hone his skills.

Over the decades, Stan performed every job involved with producing a community newspaper except operate a newspaper printing press.

The Maple Leaf is a family business purchased by his father, Sam Morris, in 1921 following an apprenticeship at the paper that was interrupted with his enlisting in Norfolk’s 133rd Battalion in World War One. His mother, Frances Slocomb, and her family had been residents of Port Dover for three generations.

On joining the Maple Leaf staff, Stan was soon attending and reporting on meetings of Port Dover Town Council, Woodhouse Township Council, Port Dover Public Utilities Commission, the local school board and an earlier version of Norfolk County Council. He attended thousands of community events over the decades with his camera and notepad.

In that era, newspaper pages were put together using large machinery that created lines of lead type that were arranged in heavy metal chases for the printing press. Stan learned the printing trade from his father, brother Archie and Harold Scruton.

Reproducing timely photographs in community newspapers in the 1950s was a complicated process and soon brought about Stan’s first obvious changes to the local paper. He bought a Crown Graphic camera; built a photography darkroom and asked Parker “Spud” Leney of The Hobby Shop to teach him how to develop film and make photographs. Those pictures would then be sent to Hamilton and later to The Reformer’s plant in downtown Simcoe for metal engravings to be made for the press.

For many decades, Stan was the paper’s only photographer attending local events and taking thousands of local people’s pictures.

In the summer of 1955, Stan was at the Summer Garden dance hall on Walker Street at the beach with some friends. Across the dance floor, he spotted a young woman and asked her for a dance. She was visiting a friend from Simcoe for the weekend and when the evening was over he offered to get his father’s car to drive them home. He soon was making multiple weekly visits to Paris, Ontario and in the winter of 1957 Ione and Stan were married. They were the love of each other’s life for the next 64 years.

By the 1980s, ‘cold’ type had replaced ‘hot’ type as computerized equipment replaced the lead casting machines. Stan embraced the new technology, purchased the modern equipment and guided the company through the transformation.

Reporting and writing and presenting a fair and balanced report was not always easy but Stan remained curious about what was happening in Port Dover throughout his life and kept writing articles and taking photographs.
Stan Morris
Stan Morris
Stan was a fervent supporter of everything Port Dover. Reporting on a wide range of local news events since 1948 and living in Port Dover for 90 years, he knew the past but lived in the present and always welcomed the future.

At 90 years of age, Stan was still writing articles and local history for the paper. The week of his death, he was putting together a summary of the news stories of 2021. His first-hand knowledge of the local news over seven decades gave him a perspective that was unequalled.

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Stan was also involved in a number of local service groups and organizations helping the community. He was a charter member of Port Dover Kinsmen Club and served on the first executive.

He was a past president of Port Dover Board of Trade and also served on various committees over the years.

Stan was a Port Dover Lion for over 50 years and a past president. He was honoured by the Lions Club with a Life Membership, the Lions’ Helen Keller Award and the Lions’ Melvin Jones Award.

For his lifetime of community service, he was named Port Dover Citizen of the Year in 2002. He received the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal in 2012 and the Norfolk County Dogwood Award for lifetime achievement in 2017.

Port Dover Lion Chief Sue Finnie said in a message read at his funeral service that Stan “has built many bridges and created numerous visions for others over the years with his zeal for life and his fervent love of Port Dover. When Lion Stan committed to anything, he committed to excelling and enduring whatever was necessary to achieve a positive result, both in his personal life and within the community.”

“Lion Stan was an intelligent, quick-witted man with a self-effacing mild manner. Several years ago, I dubbed Stan as “Stan-O-Claus” because he encompassed the qualities that embraced the essence of Christmas all year long,” wrote Ms Finnie, adding “Lion Stan was, quite simply, a person that made a positive impact on our community, the Port Dover Lions, and the many friends he collected along his journey in life.”

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Stan had a great interest in supporting young people in the community. He mentored high school co-op students and helped youth with questions on the history of Port Dover. Working with a Port Dover Lions Club committee, he helped establish Port Dover Leo Club (a youth branch of Lionism) in 1998. While it remained active only a relatively short time, he was proud of the accomplishments and community involvement of that generation of young people who established the Memorial Fountain at Silver Lake Park, raised funds for a new children’s play park and provided labour for improvements at Camp Trillium.

Many residents posted tributes online that often noted his championing of Port Dover causes, his sense of humour or his kind nature.

In an online post, Amie Trinder Ferris shared many memories starting with a co-op placement noting “Port Dover was lucky to have Stan behind the pen and camera for so many years.”

Christine Zammit-Agnew wrote, in part, “I feel as though I’ve been one of those ‘lucky ones’ who had the opportunity to know and work for Stan Morris. I loved his love and loyalty to family and to our community. Stan created Christmas fest, yet would never admit to it. Why? Because Stan was a very humble man.”

Nick Childs, the Board of Trade president, said “Port Dover has lost a wonderful citizen. I have so many memories of Stan from Lions and Board of Trade. Mostly him taking pictures of the various local events where he was always to be found. We always managed to have a laugh and make the same bad camera jokes.”

Linda Varey said “A delight to chat with and an inspiration to work with on any committee. Stan’s smile and sense of humour could light up a room.”

Shelley Mills posted “you will be forever remembered as a kind, funny, intelligent man who gave me a chance at a job I didn’t think I could ever do. I have so many warm memories.”

Ian Bell posted “I always admired the energy and enthusiasm he brought to his work – especially when telling the stories of the town he loved – Port Dover.”

Lynda Connor noted that “Through the years he spent many hours behind the scenes helping and encouraging those needing assistance or information with numerous town events. We have lost another strong supporter of our community.”

Carrie Sinkowski wrote “Local media creates space to share our stories and collectively gather our histories. Thank you to Stan for nurturing and building such a beautiful community space in the Port Dover Maple Leaf. According to Stan, we all had a story to tell that his paper gave space to hear.”

Ian Brown posted “He told our stories, he fought our battles and he served the town he loved with grace and passion.”

Dennis Travale wrote “Would it be that everyone is as fair, honest, questioning, welcoming, earnest, accepting and warm as was Stan Morris.”

Jenna Warren noted “Many years ago, Stan allowed me to do my high school co-op for photo journalism with the Port Dover Maple Leaf. He was so nice, taught me so much and I have been forever grateful.”

Les Anderson posted “He had a wealth of knowledge and a great historical perspective. But most of all he was just a great guy.”

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At the time of his marriage in 1957, he joined Knox Presbyterian Church. Over the next six decades, he attended most Sundays, served as Clerk of the Session for many years and volunteered. However, with Knox Church having closed in 2021, his funeral service was held at Grace United Church in Port Dover.

The funeral service conducted by the Rev. Kathryn Vance, which was limited to family because of concerns around the spread of COVID-19, focused on his love of family. Eulogies were given by Paul Morris and Brooke Morris. Three members of the Grace Choir sang hymns with Cheryl Copeman at the piano.

In her remarks, Rev. Vance, also a Lions Club member, said “My life is richer for having known Stan. My experience of him was that when Stan spoke, it was worth paying attention.”

“Stan was wise. One of his beliefs was that history is not as important as future. I think that was evident in his work. The Maple Leaf contributes greatly to the promotion of Port Dover, its businesses, and its residents,” Rev. Vance said.

Interment was at Port Dover Cemetery. Stan is survived by his wife Ione, three children and their spouses, grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

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