R. J. Huggins

R. J. (Bob) Huggins (born June 4, 1958) is a Canadian entrepreneur, director, producer, writer, and documentary filmmaker. He is best known for founding PaperofRecord.com, a comprehensive database of searchable newspaper image documents published in their original form. The company was sold to Google in 2006, and became an integral part of the Google News Archive.[1]

Huggins has since pursued innovation projects in technology, mentorship, publishing, and documentary filmmaking.

R. J. Huggins
RJ Huggins
BornJune 4, 1958
ResidenceOttawa, Canada
Alma materUniversity of Waterloo
Notable work
The Greatest Freedom Show on Earth
Spouse(s)Mary Ellen Dempster
WebsiteOfficial website

Newspaper digitization

In 1999, Huggins founded Cold North Wind, Inc., the parent company of PaperofRecord.com. PaperofRecord.com became the first company in the world to digitize over 21 million archived newspaper images from publications in Canada, United States, Mexico and Europe.[2][3] The PaperofRecord database offered its users the unique ability to view its newspaper archives in their original published format, and search the entire contents of each page, down to a single word.[4] Canada's two largest newspapers, The Globe and Mail and the Toronto Star, were the first to participate in this process, with their archives being fully digitized and accessible to PaperofRecord subscribers by 2002.[5]

The response to the PaperofRecord project was overwhelmingly positive, with economic historian Richard Salvucci describing the site as "simply essential for historians working on the history of Mexico."[6] In 2012, the Canadian Baseball Network named Huggins one of the "Most Influential Canadians in Baseball," commending his work in archiving the entirety of The Sporting News as part of the PaperofRecord project.[7]

The PaperofRecord.com collection was acquired in 'secret' in 2006 by Google and announced publicly in 2008.[8][9] Huggins described the decision as "bittersweet," expressing disappointment that the Canadian government was not able to invest adequate resources into the project, while also attesting that "without the help and vision of a company such as Google, this immense, global, educational resource would not be possible on the scale that is being contemplated."[10]

In his other involvement with newspaper digitization, Huggins was a founding member of The Globe and Mail's electronic information service team, Info Globe. He helped implement electronic “as of release” documents for Finance Canada and negotiated Soviet commercial electronic rights from Novosti Press Agency of the first commercial statistical trade information to the West for the New York Times Information Services.

Entrepreneurial work

Huggins has more than 25 years experience as a professional and entrepreneurial pioneer in the newspaper publishing, web/content publishing and high technology sectors. His publication, This Country Canada, received the Silver and Honorable Mention Awards at the Eighteenth National Magazine Awards in the Photojournalism and Words and Pictures categories respectively.[11]

In 2002, Huggins was nominated as Canadian Entrepreneur of the Year by Ernst & Young. He was the Entrepreneur in Residence (EIR) for Ottawa Centre for Research and Innovation and for Invest Ottawa between 2009 and 2014.[12] During his residency, Huggins worked with over 300 start-ups, helping emerging to refine their strategy and go-to-market positioning.[13]

Huggins was a Founding Director at L-Spark until May 2018, an accelerator and incubator program that provides mentorship to enterprise SaaS start-ups.[14] He continues to mentor technology start-ups independently, as well as working on a variety of film projects.

Personal life

Huggins attended the University of Waterloo, receiving a degree in Canadian Studies, Economics and History in 1981. He currently lives with his family in Ottawa, Canada.

Orphan Boy Films

In 2006, Huggins founded Orphan Boy Films, a production company specializing in historical feature documentaries.[15] The name is an homage to Huggins' father, a Barnardo orphan who was sent to Canada as a twelve-year-old to work on a farm outside the village of Norwich, in Southwestern Ontario.

In 2015, Orphan Boy Films released The Greatest Freedom Show on Earth, a feature-length documentary commissioned by TVO.org.[16] Cinematographer and Producer Anthony Seck played a key role in the collaboration.[17] The documentary explored the story behind the Emancipation Day celebrations in Windsor, Ontario from 1932-1967.[18] The annual event, soon to be coined "The Greatest Freedom Show on Earth," was first instigated by Windsorite Walter Perry in August 1932, and continued until his death in 1968.[19] Though Perry's death had a significant influence on the end of the tradition, the Detroit Riot of 1967 was also believed to have been a major reason behind its demise.[20]

The documentary aired on TVOntario on February 25, 2018, and made its PBS Detroit debut on May 4, 2018.[21] It was also shown at some small screenings in Ottawa, and had a large theatre debut to over 600 students across two screenings at the Capitol Theatre in Windsor.[22] It won the "Award of Merit - Special Mention" at the Impact Doc Awards in January 2016.[23]

Orphan Boy Films is currently developing their next film, A Barnardo Boy, an episodic docu-drama exploring the experiences of the Home Children sent to Canada between 1969 and 1930, particularly those children who came from Britain to Canada as a ward of Thomas John Barnardo in 1930.[24]


Year Film Credited as Notes
2015 The Greatest Freedom Show on Earth Director Documentary Feature


Year Nominated Work Awards Category Result
2016 The Greatest Freedom Show on Earth Award of Merit Special Mention Won


  1. ^ "Paper of Record". Paperofrecord.hypernet.ca. Retrieved 2013-09-09.
  2. ^ "PaperofRecord.com: Building the World's Largest Searchable Archive of Historical Newspapers". Retrieved 2018-06-13.
  3. ^ ""PaperofRecord.com Completes Sale of Digital Newspaper Archives to Google": Canadian Digitized Newspaper Content to be Featured in Google News Archive". marketwired.com. Retrieved 2018-07-01.
  4. ^ "Bruce Gillespie: All the news that's fit to scan". www.brucegillespie.com. Retrieved 2018-06-13.
  5. ^ "All the news that's fit to scan". Bruce Gillespie. Retrieved 2013-09-09.
  6. ^ ""Paper of Record" Disappears, Leaving Historians in the Lurch | Perspectives on History | AHA". www.historians.org. Retrieved 2018-07-01.
  7. ^ "2012 Most Influential Canadians in baseball". Canadian Baseball Network. Retrieved 2018-06-13.
  8. ^ "KYndnp: Google again". Kyndnp.blogspot.com. 2009-04-20. Retrieved 2013-09-09.
  9. ^ "Need an archive of newspapers? – Google has it!! | Re-living Passions". Sathisraj88.wordpress.com. 2008-12-10. Retrieved 2013-09-09.
  10. ^ ""PaperofRecord.com Completes Sale of Digital Newspaper Archives to Google": Canadian Digitized Newspaper Content to be Featured in Google News Archive". www.marketwired.com. Retrieved 2018-07-01.
  11. ^ "Eighteenth Annual National Magazine Award Winners". www.sources.com. Retrieved 2018-06-24.
  12. ^ "Leave innovation to business community, ex-Invest Ottawa startup mentor says | Ottawa Business Journal". www.obj.ca. Retrieved 2018-06-13.
  13. ^ "Bob Huggins: Executive Profile & Biography - Bloomberg". www.bloomberg.com. Retrieved 2018-06-13.
  14. ^ "L-SPARK | Crunchbase". Crunchbase. Retrieved 2018-06-13.
  15. ^ "Ottawa-based producer Bob Huggins is filming a documentary on Emancipation Day. He is shown here Thursday July 28, 2011, at the British Methodist Episcopal Church in Windsor, Ont". Windsorstar.com. 2011-07-30. Retrieved 2013-09-09.
  16. ^ "The Greatest Freedom Show on Earth". TVO. Retrieved 2018-07-12.
  17. ^ "Detroit and Windsor's Underground Railroad History at Center of "Greatest Freedom Show on Earth" Film's Kickstarter Campaign". PRWeb. Retrieved 2018-06-25.
  18. ^ Morrison, Tom (2015-02-18). "Windsor's Emancipation Day celebrations remembered in new film". OurWindsor.ca. Retrieved 2018-06-13.
  19. ^ "HISTORY | Emancipation Day Windsor". edcw.ca. Retrieved 2018-07-01.
  20. ^ Morrison, Tom (2015-02-18). "Windsor's Emancipation Day celebrations remembered in new film". OurWindsor.ca. Retrieved 2018-07-01.
  21. ^ "The Greatest Freedom Show on Earth". TVO. Retrieved 2018-07-12.
  22. ^ Morrison, Tom (2015-02-18). "Windsor's Emancipation Day celebrations remembered in new film". OurWindsor.ca. Retrieved 2018-07-01.
  23. ^ "Awards of Merit January 2016". impactdocsawards.com. Retrieved 2018-06-24.
  24. ^ "A Barnardo Boy – in preproduction – Orphan Boy Films". orphanboyfilms.com. Retrieved 2018-06-25.

PaperofRecord.com (POR) is a website that hosts digitized newspapers online. Cold North Wind Inc. is the parent company of Paperofrecord.com, which was founded by R. J. Huggins of Ottawa Canada in 2001.

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