Canadian recorded the history of Camrose
The old Camrose Canadian now onsite at the Camrose and District Centennial Museum. Supplied
During the early years of a young and blooming Camrose, a gentleman by the name of George P. Smith opened the Camrose Canadian in December 1908.
Smith later became M.L.A and Minister of Education for Alberta. Originally, the Canadian was printed in Wetaskiwin, but following the closure of The Camrose Mail in early 1909, Mr. Smith purchased the plant and began publishing in Camrose in February 1909. Type-setting machines quickly replaced hand setting and the first linotype set paper was published on March 25, 1915.
Mr. Smith sold the business in 1922 to Mr. Fred Slight and Thomas Gray. Following Gray’s retirement in 1927, Slight continued as sole proprietor of the newspaper with Mrs. (Ila) Slight continuing the business after her husband’s death in 1930. In 1947, the Canadian was sold to Rae King and Kenneth Patrige. Fred King joined in 1949, but sold his share to Charles (Chuck) Maclean in 1951. Following the deaths of (Rae) King and Patrige, Maclean became sole owner of the business. By the late 1980s, the paper was published by Bowes Publishers Ltd. which morphed into Sun Media, which was owned by Quebecor Media, and evolved into Postmedia.
I had the pleasure of digging briefly into the Camrose Canadian Archives. While this article is short, I decided to highlight some interesting features of Camrose Canadian editions from the years 1912, 1955, and 2018.
In 1912, the Camrose Canadian was a weekly journal published by the Camrose Publishing Co. The 1912 editions included recognizable Camrose resident names such as Burrows, Sampson, Farley, Duggan, Hoyme, Burgar, Adam and Layton. The cost of a subscription to Canada and Great Britain was $1 for the whole year while a subscription to the United States for the year cost $1.50.
There were several different facets to the paper from today’s Canadian. Sections of the paper included Provincial news, Camrose news, Country news, District news (for example: “Mrs. John McLeod who has been visiting her parents for the past week went to Daysland last Saturday”), Social and Personal (“H. Mott was called to Wainwright very suddenly this week on account of the illness of his father”) and Heard on Main Street (a section for various events or opportunities happening on or around Main Street).
Even American news wove its way into the paper, with letters to the editors being published by an American audience. On the other side of the ocean a curious Scotsman inquired to the Canadian about the living conditions in the Camrose district to see if it would be a right fit for him to immigrate to the area. The audience was quite vast! Canada was booming in 1912 and the Canadian highlighted that fact by covering the excitement of the growing railway lines and new settlers arriving.
By 1955 the subscription price rose to $2.50 for Canadians and $3.50 a year for a foreign subscription. The paper remained similar in style with a more direct focus on local news as it remains today. Interestingly, the Canadian used to split district news by local towns. A section about Bittern Lake news for example could be found in the pages discussing various events or news specific to the village and its residents: “Bethany Baptist Church was filled with parents, relatives and friends for their annual Sunday school programme on Christmas Eve.” A highlight of the year was Camrose also becoming Alberta’s eighth city in 1955. Tiny details regarding the citizens of Camrose and district remained clearly marked amongst the papers. Whether it was congratulating couples on their wedding or noting the holiday whereabouts of families, the Canadian was on top of it all.
By 2018, with the exception of a few Postmedia network articles regarding provincial news, the paper’s focus was and is still on local news. The theme of getting to know people within the community continues with the “20 questions” on the opening page. Besides the employees at the Camrose Canadian, residents contribute to the paper by writing articles about local history, food to eat around Camrose, and home renovation tips.
As staple of Camrose for more than 100 years, the Canadian has kept a keen record of life in the small city and surrounding areas of Camrose. It will be greatly missed as well as the lovely staff who has worked tirelessly to bring us local news to our doors.
Dariya Veenstra is the Museum Coordinator at the Camrose and District Centennial Museum.