Determined to achieve financial stability, we launched Cruiseline, a telephone chat line for gay men in Toronto, in 1989. The Press was an early entrant into this new and growing industry. By 2005 Cruiseline was Canada’s leading name in gay chat line services, operating everywhere in the English-speaking parts of the country. (Pursuant to a change of strategic direction, in 2011 the Press sold the Cruiseline business to First Media Group.)
The invention and subsequent success of Cruiseline had profound consequences for the Press.
Xtra West & Capital Xtra
In 1993, the Press deployed some of its Toronto chat line profits to expand dramatically, adding both Vancouver and Ottawa to its theatre of operations in just three months.
After a year of planning, the Press launched Xtra West in Vancouver in July 1993. Conceived on the model of Xtra in Toronto but managed independently by local staff, Xtra West met with immediate success, going on to become an anchor of Vancouver’s long-established gay and lesbian communities.
And when Ottawa’s Go Info suddenly collapsed, the Press quickly stepped into the gap with the launch of the monthly Capital Xtra in September 1993. Since then, Capital Xtra has been an important engine of community-building in Ottawa and a permanent reminder to federal officials that gay issues are an inescapable facet of Canadian life and politics.
As with Cruiseline, this expansion also changed the Press and carried it farther from its origins, as it reorganized itself into a divisional structure to accommodate its on-the-ground engagement of workforces and communities in three widely separated cities.