History of The Cord

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Photo by Nick Lachance

On Sept. 26, 1926, the College Cord published its first issue as a campus newspaper for the students at Waterloo College.  

Over many years, Waterloo College eventually transformed into the academic institution we know today, Wilfrid Laurier University. 

Through these developmental years, as Laurier saw changes in its name, educational affiliation and culture, the campus newspaper remained consistent.   

“The College Cord shall be ‘a tie that binds,’” was printed in the paper’s first issue as an explanation of the publication’s name.  

The then editorial staff of three explained that The College Cord would bind the students at Waterloo College together through common feelings of love, sorrow, joy, hope and sympathy.   

Today, after dropping ‘College’ from our name, The Cord operates with an editorial and managerial staff of nine.  

Despite our ever-changing society, past and present members of The Cord have continued to bind Laurier students together using the publication’s voice.   

Through this exploration of The Cord’s history and conversations with past Editor-in-Chiefs, new and returning Golden Hawks will discover what students have done for The Cord and what The Cord has done for students.  

The students working on The College Cord in 1926 made a statement in the first issue about the efforts that led to the birth of the newspaper and their goal for the future of the publication:  

“… this paper which we present today is laid upon the foundations of former attempts, which it is itself only a step toward a much larger and better publication which we hope Waterloo College will soon be able to present.”   

As the student population grew and The College Cord’s production improved, the goal outlined by the original editorial staff was made a reality through student efforts. 

“To think back to what we were doing at that point in time, it’s actually quite impressive. You are students just starting out in your post-secondary career, but you’re also managing the whole execution of a newspaper every single week while going to school,” said Caitlin Smith, nee Howlett, former Editor-in-Chief of The Cord in 2005. 

“Just thinking back to all the things we did and the fact that we were able to produce a really impressive publication every week, it’s quite incredible.”  

Contributed Image

Every academic year saw its own set of monumental moments.  

Behind each shift in society, there were student writers who reported back to inform students on campus.   

In 1945, following the end of World War II, the editorial staff of The College Cord reported to its student body about the changes that would be coming to the institution as a new influx of war veterans enrolled.   

Concerns about expansion within the institution were outlined by those writers and an assertion was made to continue to bind students despite the sudden changes.  

The editorial staff in 1945 wrote, “And so with a word of welcome on our lips to the Freshman class, and a nod of pleasant recognition to advanced students, we hope our colleagues, along with the faculty, will make this year Waterloo’s best.”   

Waterloo College took on the name we know today in 1973, and The College Cord became The Cord in 2009 after two name changes. Regardless, the passion from student journalists carried on.   

As Justin Smirlies, former Editor-in-Chief in 2014, outlined, contributing his takeaways from writing with The Cord:  

“Find a passion. Take passion in what you do. Be enthusiastic. … you’ll start seeing the benefits if you have that passion.”   

 “I think [The Cord] really did help me define what I wanted to do,” Mark Wigmore, former Editor-in-Chief in 1981, said.   

Following the publication’s name change, the way in which The Cord operated changed along with it.  

Instead of publishing solely in print, content was delivered to students online, through evolving social media and photo galleries.   

Editor-in-Chief, Laura Carlson, wrote in the first issue after the name change, “We recognize that we need to continuously adapt to serve our readers, and though the medium we exist in may continue shifting, The Cord’s mandate of serving our readers in the Laurier community will never falter.”   

Shelby Blackley, former Editor-in-Chief of The Cord in 2016, explains, regarding her experience at The Cord, “I always joke that I didn’t go to school for my degree, I went to the school for The Cord. Every single day at The Cord I was writing so many articles in a very quick amount of time, I was interviewing so many different people on many different levels, learning different communication styles, learning how to learn what information I needed from these stories. I was creating such meaningful networking connections too.”   

The Cord in the newsstands today reflects the efforts of the writers who came before while continuing to evolve in our society, and remains a tie that binds.   

For this upcoming academic year, The Cord encourages interested new or returning Laurier students to join The Cord across our many sections.   

“It set the foundation. I don’t think I would be doing what I do now without having had that experience at The Cord,” said Linda Givetash, former Editor-in-Chief in 2012.  

“…if you’re interested in joining The Cord, just try it… It’s not as scary as you think it is,” Smirlies ‘14, outlined.    

“It’s such an important part of my Laurier experience because I learned so much as a student volunteer and made some incredible friends who are still some of my friends today,” Smith ‘05 explained.   

The Cord has five sections: News, Sports, Opinion and Arts and Life.  

All sections are  accepting contributing writers. Issues are uploaded biweekly online at thecord.ca and printed once a month.  

“…enjoy the experience. Use it to hone your skills, both in journalism and writing and your understanding of events, whether that’s local, sports, entertainment, politics,” said Wigmore ‘81.  

Interested students can also join The Cord’s photography, social media or website design teams.   

“… it was such a diverse experience in terms of what I was able to do [at The Cord] … there’s the actual job of being an editor, of being a reporter, and then there’s the broader experience of the friends you make, the things you learn. Whether it’s laying out the newspaper or actually going out and reporting, researching various stories, whatever it might be,” explained Givetash ,‘12.   

“The Cord gave me a ton of skills that still translate every single day. But beyond that, I was also able to really build out my relationships, my friendships… I am now in journalism, but I kind of ended up in the position that I am because of circumstances that happened because of The Cord,” said Blackley, ‘16.   

“To me [The Cord] was my degree. To me it was my school,” explained Smirlies ‘14.    

In the publication’s first issue, the editorial staff featured a message to all students in the first editorial excerpt. “We are viewing today the birth of a College year as well as the birth of a College paper. They lie before us with all their unbounded possibilities hidden in the glamor of the unknown.”   

To discover the unbounded possibilities that lie unknown this 2023/2024 academic year, contact Editor-in-Chief Brontё Behling at editor@thecord.ca 


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Serving the Waterloo campus, The Cord seeks to provide students with relevant, up to date stories. We’re always interested in having more volunteer writers, photographers and graphic designers.