By Mark Nimigan, Special Examiner (Retired)

Maria-Mark-photoIn 1974, a young Maria Mihailovich walked into my office on what I would describe as a cold call, asking if I was hiring.  After talking to Maria for a while, her keen intelligence became apparent and I decided to test her shorthand.  I quickly sensed that I had a budding court reporter in my presence and I hired her.

She soon became the best court reporter I had ever known.  She actually enjoys American medical depositions and it is telling that lawyers and doctors far and wide specifically requested she be the reporter on their deposition.

Maria tested herself against the finest typists in the country at the CNE grounds and won the title as “Canada’s Fastest Typist.”

Needless to say, Maria became indispensable to me, my office and to our association.  She became involved in association work, and in 1988 became president.  Because we wanted to surprise her with this tribute I was unable to ask her about dates, but I’m sure she served several terms as president.  She also assumed the onerous task of editor of The Reporter magazine.  Maria brought a critical, diligent approach to this task and did her usual excellent work.  She spent endless hours in the production of “our” magazine.  In 1994, Maria became chief examiner, and in that capacity nurtured many young, aspiring court reporters.

Historically it has been difficult to keep the CSRAO a viable organization because of the apathy of many of the members.  Unfortunately, if you’re not getting reporters a fee increase, they feel you are not doing anything for them.  Many of them are unaware of the concept of pricing yourself out of the market.

Younger members do not know of the struggle our association has had to keep court reporting as we know it surviving against all odds.  Many, many hours of effort have been expended by faithful, dedicated members who have a passion for our profession.

Recently, Maria told me that some members have suggested giving up our charter and Maria said, “I will not let that happen.”   If Maria says, “I will not let that happen,” it won’t happen, but it will not survive without the support of our members.

This association owes a tremendous debt of gratitude to Maria for her hard work and dedication.  Long ago Maria surpassed her mentor, and I am so proud of her and grateful for her commitment to the survival of the court reporting profession of which we are all so proud.

photo1Grandjean Shorthand Machine

French version created by Marc Grandjean in 1909









frankFrank McGuigan, C.S.R.

1921 – 2008

Frank McGuigan was a court reporting pioneer and visionary. His contributions to the profession forged a path for generations of reporters who continue to follow in his footsteps. Frank worked tirelessly for the cause of reporting and always put the education and concerns of his colleagues first. He embraced computerization from its earliest inception and foresaw its many applications. And it all started with 50 cents a lesson.

Frank began his training in machine shorthand in the 1930s at a cost of 50 cents a lesson—a sizeable sum in the middle of the Great Depression. Frank was persuaded that becoming a shorthand writer would be an excellent investment and he devoted himself to that endeavour. However, the pursuit of high speeds in machine shorthand was made all the more difficult because Frank had syndactyly, or webbed fingers. Frank would often have to take a break from speed building on the machine because his fingers were cut and bleeding.

Later in his career, when asked how he found the shorthand course, Frank replied: “Tough! The only thing that saved me was the fact I quit twice but started thrice.”1

Frank successfully completed his training in the middle of World War II and, in 1942, became the first stenotypist with the Judge Advocate General’s branch of the Canadian Army and held the rank of Warrant Officer. Frank McGuigan wrote of one incident during the war years:

Warrant Officers Hubbard and McGuigan were leading a parade of clerks (famed for the inability to distinguish between right and left feet) when a fire-eating Commanding General turned up. The volley of orders to keep those clerks out of the sight of that General probably represents the most hastily devised retreat ever executed by the Canadian army.2

Following the war, Frank became a freelance reporter in Toronto. One of his many assignments was to travel the province with Premier Leslie M. Frost reporting the premier’s election speeches. This could have been no easy feat for a court reporter, since that premier’s low key approach garnered him the nickname “The Great Tranquilizer”.

In a discussion of other of his more interesting assignments, Frank recalled:

… a meeting of Gideons at the Royal York Hotel where, since everyone else was doing it, I felt constrained to report portions of the meetings while kneeling.3

Frank had many other challenging reporting jobs including Royal Commissions, conferences and a wide variety of freelance work before joining the staff of the Supreme Court in 1951.

In describing what persuaded him to leave freelancing to join the Supreme Court of Ontario, Frank McGuigan wrote the following:

When I joined the SCO staff back in the starry-eyed days of 1951 it took careful weighing of the pros and cons first. The pros were all nicely laid out by the then Chief Reporter, Horace Taylor. There was job security, pension, adequate salary, liberal time off for doing transcripts and ample vacation. The cons were all worse than anticipated: acoustically abominable courtrooms, extended out-of-town sittings with not, as now, guaranteed room reservations but rather “guaranteed no-sleep” rooms, and all the innumerable individually little but collectively large hassles of life of an extensive circuit court with the accepted mode of travel of the day being the “iron horse” and, infrequently, an unpressurized DC-3.

Anyway, it was when the “liberal time off” was thrown into the balance that the scale weighed in favour of signing up and carrying on. I suspect it is such that motivates teachers and others to make their job choice. Perhaps it’s for the “moonlighting possibilities” or just the chance to unwind from a demanding job. While I once didn’t think it was so tough, with each passing year it is obvious court reporting has become more demanding. The few foreign witnesses a month of the ‘50s have become the almost daily ordeal of the ‘70s. Short weeks with Fridays, occasionally Thursdays, off are gone. Uninterrupted long court (summer) vacations are gone. The lawyers who specialized in trial work and were wondrously proficient in it are, for the most part, on the bench, gone to just rewards or merely staying out of the courtrooms I’m in.4

When Frank McGuigan joined the staff of reporters at the Supreme Court of Ontario, he became the first stenotypist to be included among the ranks of Pitman and Gregg pen writers. Though the stenotype machine had been in existence in various incarnations in the United States for over 50 years, Frank introduced the new system to various venues during his work on Supreme Court of Ontario assizes. Frank became a celebrity throughout Ontario with his “newfangled” machine and often made the front page of newspapers.

The Evening Citizen of March 19, 1952 reported:

Frank McGuigan, an Ontario Supreme Court reporter, came to town Monday and he brought with him a gadget which first came into prominence during the 1935 drama-packed trial of Bruno Richard Hauptmann for the murder of the Lindbergh baby. The stenotype, a small black box not unlike an adding machine in appearance and similar to a typewriter in operation, may soon replace the court reporters’ fountain pen in Canada.

The Kingston Whig-Standard of September 25, 1952 also reported:

Mr. McGuigan started studying the stenograph in 1937. He has many firsts to his credit. During the war he reported army courts-martial on the machine and recorded testimony heard during sittings on the Massey Commission, the first time a stenograph had been used on a Royal Commission.

Because the machine is silent and sometimes partially hidden by a desk, court officials are inclined to wonder where the court reporter is when the machine is introduced to a new locality. But it is soon known that Mr. McGuigan, one of Canada’s foremost stenographic operations, is taking down testimony on the tiny machine.

By the late 1960s, technology had begun to advance to the point where Frank and others on the cutting edge of the profession had begun to see the promise that computers might hold for the process of transcription. Frank was enthusiastic about the concept of computerization and was indefatigable in sharing information about technological advances and in trying to convince his colleagues to refine their shorthand theories to take advantage of the possibilities.

frank_robertFrank McGuigan with Robert T. Wright, President, Stenograph, at the CSRAO Convention in 1978

After 25 years as a court reporter with the Supreme Court of Ontario, Frank was appointed the Assistant Chief Reporter in 1976 and continued in that capacity until his retirement in 1979.

Throughout his career, Frank McGuigan was very active in the Chartered Shorthand Reporters Association of Ontario. He was elected to every position on council, at various times, culminating with his ascendancy to President, a post which he held from 1975 to 1976.


CSRAO President Frank McGuigan in 1976, with Ray Cuthbert and Jeanie Morrison

Frank was well known as the long-time editor ofMachine Writers Corner, a regular section of the newsletter which focused on the theory, history and development of machine shorthand. Frank was a friend to all shorthand writers, but played a large role in mentoring such luminaries as Bruce R. Crockett, CSR; Mike Mealing, CSR; and John Trotter, CSR.

The CSRAO and court reporting lost a sagacious advocate and supporter in 2008 with the passing of Frank McGuigan, CSR. He is fondly remembered by his wife Monica, his children and extended family as well as his many friends and former colleagues.

The CSRAO salutes Frank McGuigan as the first inductee in the new Reporting Pioneers and Luminaries section of our association’s website.


1 CSRA Newsletter, Fall 1970.

2 The Chartered Shorthand Reporter, Summer 1971.

3 CSRA Newsletter, Fall 1970.

4 The Chartered Shorthand Reporter, Spring 1975.


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