Canadian was a source of local news and information
Long time Camrose Canadian reader Geraldine Gumpinger. Leah Simonot/Camrose Canadian
Elmer Schroeder gained an unique, inverted view of the community when he started making pages for the Camrose Canadian in 1962.
Those were the good old hot metal days. Information was set out on linotypes and the Canadian was printed on main street from an eight-page Goss printing press. A normal paper began printing Monday afternoon, and the last pages usually came out around 3 p.m. Wednesday. It took eight men working eight-hour days to make it happen. The building reeked of ink.
“You learned how to read upside down and it was just part of the everyday thing that we did,” said Schroeder. “That’s where I read the paper most of the time. There was all kinds of information that came out of a lot of the correspondents.”
From here, Schroeder landed a byline in the sports section.
“It was just something I always wanted to do. I asked (former owner) Chuck MacLean if it would be alright if I did it every once in a while, and he said yes.”
MacLean helped him out the first half-dozen times, then Schroeder went out on his own.
“That’s one of those things that I just kind of worked on and wanted to learn how to do because I was part of a lot of things that went on in the newspaper business and I was just interested.”
Schroeder stayed with the Canadian through a 10-year apprenticeship. Running the linotype was not something to be taught, he said, but rather something you worked your way into. He met his wife, Marianne, here when she joined the Canadian as a bookkeeper in 1963.
He found out how much dedication goes into running a newspaper when he took over the Bashaw Star for about a decade after leaving the Canadian in 1973.
“You have to really enjoy working with people, you have to have a community in mind … all the time when you are being either an owner or you are working for one,” said Schroeder.
“Sometimes you are around and people would drag you into a conversation you don’t want to be in, but you have to deal with it because that’s what a small-town newspaper is all about: it’s about people and places and faces.”
The value of this, he said, is to keep up with information in the area, even more so now than when he was working in the field.
“Now, I look through it (the paper) and I look at pictures and see people I know or don’t know … There was a time many, many, many, many, many years ago when I could walk down main street and just about know everybody that was in Camrose. Well, that doesn’t happen anymore,” he said.
Geraldine Gumpinger says the newspaper sparked her interest as soon as she learned how to read. Growing up in Hay Lakes, the Canadian was her source of entertainment.
“The Canadian has news from every little town and the towns were quite vibrant in those day … it was interesting and exciting when we got the paper in the mailbox once a week to run out, open to the Hay Lakes news and see if we were in there,” she said.
The anticipation was heightened if there had been a village event lately and it was possible that the correspondent has spoken with her mom.
“When you’ve got such a big family it was just life, so to us it might not be exciting, depending on whether the correspondent decided to make it news. Well, then we’d always have to look.”
Gumpinger has called Camrose home for 75 years now. Her and her husband retired from their paper route of 10 years in April; their three children carried papers before them in the 80’s.
She would have kept with it a while longer, had she known the paper was to close. It hurts to see a piece of local history lost.
Moreover, she is unenthusiastic about the digital age.
“It’s a sign of the times,” she said. “Unfortunately, everything is going to be digital. If that’s how people get their news, I wonder how many people will actually become interested in history or what is going on.”
Schroeder, likewise, sticks to print media and continues to follow the Camrose Canadian and the Bashaw Star.
He does not like to see so many community papers closing these days.
“I’m really sad to see it happen, particularly an award-winning newspaper like the Camrose Canadian was.”
In his opinion, community news holds a singular spot in the market.
“You’re not competing. You’re a local newspaper and it’s really, really, really, sad when they go, because most of the time, I’m going to say, you’re never, ever going to replace them. Once they are out, they will be out — that’s my thought.”