Opinion Column

’Canadian’ told Camrose’s story for 110 years

By Josh Aldrich, Camrose Canadian

There is an old cliché about those who win a battle get to write the history books. 

 

My addendum to that is, if you really want to find out what happened, dive into a newspaper's archives for the unvarnished truth. 

When I first became interested in becoming a journalist back in high school, my dad — a native Chicagoan — passed me a book called One Last Time, by Mike Royko. Royko was a syndicated columnist in Chicago from the late 1950s through to the ’90s. The book was his greatest hits anthology set in chronological order. Many of the columns dealt with, in detail, the civil rights movement and the Vietnam War. It was not a text book you could find in any school, but it gave a true sense of what was really going on and what life was like. He did not just focus on those two topics for 40 years, however, he ranted about his beloved but cursed Cubs, civic disputes, even the best cure for a hangover. He told the story of Chicago like no one else could. 

The Camrose Canadian began telling this community's story in 1908. Today, that ends. 

The goal of this paper for the past 110 years has been to keep those who are in power honest, to inform the public, and to even entertain. We have been the paper of record in this community for almost as long as the community has been around. 

If one wants to find out how major world events like the world wars, the Great Depression, the oil booms and busts, or national and provincial political shifts affected Camrose, the Canadian covered it. 

If you wanted to find out what life was like in the region in the 1940s or 60s or 80s or 2000s, you could leaf back through the pages of old copies of the paper. Even the day-to-day of how much a loaf of bread cost at the Co-op 50 years ago, or how much a truck cost in the ’70s. Sometimes mundane, yes, but it paints a proper picture of life in Camrose like no other resource. The devil is always in the details. 

The Canadian chronicled the growth of Camrose from a little hamlet, through all of its many milestone and major events, like the expansion of the railroad which helped transform it into a regional hub, or as it played host to the province with the Alberta Games or other major events. 

I have had the privilege to cover the city for the last 19 months. I have lived and worked in many communities, but none has been quite like Camrose. 

There is a reason why MacLean's Magazine recently named Camrose the No. 11 place in Canada to live in its annual rankings. It is a beautiful city that never let itself get trapped in the stereotype of many Prairie oil towns. While we could argue naturalization versus park-like aesthetics till the cows come home, there is no debating the city's beauty, its great parks and trail system. 

Pound-for-pound Camrose's arts and culture community is second-to-none in the province. Between two different but jam-packed theatres, an active liberal arts university, and a vibrant music and arts scene, I am hard pressed to come up with a better offering in Alberta. There are bigger communities with more going on, but on a per capita basis they cannot touch Camrose. 

When it comes to sports there is a lot going on as well from the Camrose Kodiaks to the University of Alberta-Augustana Vikings to thriving minor sports organizations. I only wish I could have covered more, as many of the athletes they are producing are of the highest calibre. 

I am grateful for how I have been embraced by the community. More so, though, I am impressed with groups like the Camrose Women's Shelter, Neighbor Aid, the Camrose Public Library and Camrose Open Door, among others. They reach out and help those who have been forgotten or are in need. They take care of those who often get swept under the rug by the rest of society when the city is considered. 

As a paper we do what we do to be a voice for the people, for our readers. We've had many great community partners and contributors over the years that I cannot list them all. All I can do is say "Thank you." 

Camrose, it has been an honour to tell your story. 

 

Jaldrich@postmedia.com  



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