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Who was Vic Stein? A man who enjoyed a pint of beer at the rugby match? A young woman who worked behind the counter at a local department store? A seamstress in a sweatshop? Yes—she could be any and all of these characters, depending on the story she was chasing for her popular column in the Toronto News.
Over 100 years ago, Vic Stein was breaking ground. She was one of the New Women, a Bachelor Girl who pursued a career in investigative journalism— hardly the type of lifestyle for an upper-middle class young lady. But she had to be stealthy, secretive, and cunning if she wanted her scoop.
There are many details we do not know about this secretive and feisty journalist—we don’t even know her real name!—but one thing we know for sure: Vic Steinberg would be laughing if she knew that decades after her death, people are still wondering about her and trying to solve the puzzle that was her life.
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Christine Welldon is the author of several children’s books including The Children of Africville; Children of the Titanic; Molly Kool: Captain of the Atlantic; Canadian Pacific Railway: Pon Git Cheng; and Pier 21: Listen to My Story. Her work has also appeared in the Globe and Mail and in The Fiddlehead, Canadian Business and Omni magazines. Christine currently divides her time between Lunenburg, Nova Scotia, and Toronto, Ontario.
“Who was Vic Steinberg – fortune teller? Shop girl? Seamstress? Vic Steinberg wore many disguises but no one except her close friends and colleagues knew her real name. Vic was a rare phenomenon: the woman newspaper columnist. And more than that, she was the only reporter at her paper to have her own byline. In the Victorian Age, a time when women were destined for marriage and home-making, women columnists were almost unheard of. Vic worked for the Toronto News, a paper that middle- and working-class people read because they had a liking for sensational stories, local gossip, and crime. When the paper hit the front porches, readers would turn to her column before reading the news of the day. In 1890s Toronto, who else could take women to places they had never been – the sweatshops, the men’s smoking rooms, the taverns? Vic Steinberg entered these places without fear, then reported back with a special blend of humor and curiosity that made her readers want to know more.
Vic didn’t care about the dresses women were wearing that season, or who was holding a garden party this summer. She had no interest in women’s hats or the latest kitchen gadgets. Instead, she was determined to go to places where women of “class” did not go. She could only do these daring things if she kept her identity a secret. Disguising herself gave her the freedom to blend in with people from all walks of life. Sometimes she explored Toronto dressed as a man, but she always wrote from a woman’s point of view.”
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Book Description Fitzhenry & Whiteside, 2013. Hardcover. Condition: New. Never used!. Seller Inventory # P111554552338