Troublemaking semicentennial – corrected

Bentley-ccFriends and admirers gathered in the Midtown Tavern’s antiseptic new digs Thursday evening to honor journalist-businessman David Bentley’s 50 years of afflicting the comfortable.

Among the crowd were foot-soldiers of the late, lamented Halifax Daily News (née: Bedford-Sackville News), the once salacious Frank magazine, and the meaty, fact-packed AllNovaScotia.com, which today ranks Nova Scotia’s premier newsgathering organization. As Frank might put it,  all three began life as Bentley organs.

In 1974, Bentley, his wife, and two partners founded the weekly B-S News, modeling it after the sordid tabloids of his native England. Five years later, he took the enormous gamble of moving the paper downtown, transforming it into a daily, and taking on both the stolid Chronicle-Herald and the nacent, corrupt Buchanan administration.

After selling the daily to Harry Steele’s Newfoundland Capital Corp. in 1987, Bentley and business partner Lyndon Watkins founded Frank, a legendary tweaker of toffee-noses. In 2001, with daughter Caroline Wood, he founded AllNovaScotia, an online publication that is, ironically, today’s must-read for Nova Scotia’s ruling elites.

Boutillier-250-ccWhen future historians recount Nova Scotia’s late-20th Century transformation from a staid, British colonial outpost to an almost modern society, Bentley will emerge as an unsung central figure. He taught the province that ritual deference to one’s betters is the surest guarantor of mediocrity.

Our betters are still smarting from the lesson.

Fittingly, the quinquagenary brought out longtime Bentley protégé, celebrity shooter, and onetime Frank co-owner Cliff Boutillier, shown honing his lens in preparation for next week’s edition. The Glace Bay native grimaced at the intrusiveness of today’s bloggers with their pesky iPhones.

“Whoever told you sauce for the goose was sauce for the gander,” he demanded.

David Bentley, that’s who.

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