Academic journal article Alberta History

Red Deer Newspapers 1894-1996

Academic journal article Alberta History

Red Deer Newspapers 1894-1996

Article excerpt

From the time Red Deer was recognized as a hamlet in 1894 to its present stature as a city of more than 60,000, newspapers have played a major role in the lives of the city's and district's citizens. During the early years, the first newspapers experienced only a brief existence in the community, with the first three lasting only a few weeks each.

The first was The Red Deer Review, started under the editorship of D. H. Murphy who had arrived from Donaldson, Minnesota, a month earlier. The first issue was published in March 1894 by the Saskatchewan Land & Homestead Company. In that same month the Red Deer Board of Trade was formed and paid the express charges and the costs of distributing the newspaper. The Board of Trade had high hopes for the newspaper but everyone's good intentions were short-lived. According to Michael Dawe,

It had been hoped that this four-page weekly would become a vigorous promoter of the district. Instead, the paper was beset by financial difficulties almost immediately and ceased publication by the end of April. (1)

No surviving issues of the Red Deer Review have been located.

It wasn't until 1898 that Red Deer's second newspaper began publication. The Red Deer Gazette & Lacombe Advertiser, a weekly, began as a supplement to The Innisfail Free Lance. The paper was edited by George Wellington Green (1862-1936), an Ontario lawyer who had arrived in Red Deer in 1893. Unfortunately, this paper did not last long either and ceased publication the following year. Similarly, a weekly, The Alberta Independent, established by a Mr. Becker in February 1898, did not last and disappeared the following January. No surviving issues of either of these Red Deer newspapers have been located.

Red Deer's fourth newspaper, The Red Deer Echo, began publication in June 1900. It was the first to survive for any length of time. It was owned by George Fleming (1854-1926) and was edited by his son Orville (1880-1917). George was born in St. Mary's, Ontario, and began homesteading in central Alberta prior to entering the field of journalism. His son Orville was born in Essex, Ontario, and also homesteaded in the Red Deer area. Orville edited The Innisfail Free Lance from 1898 to 1901 and went on to become publisher and editor of The Penhold Reporter in 1903 and 1904.

In 1901, Red Deer was incorporated as a town, following its elevation to village status in 1895. In that same year The Red Deer Echo built a newspaper office and changed its name to The Alberta Echo. A year later, in August of 1902, the paper was leased to O. A. Butterfield who had arrived in Lacombe from Iowa in April 1900. Within a year of leasing, Butterfield sold his interest to The Advocate Publishing Company Ltd. and left for Seattle. Like other early Red Deer newspapers, there appear to be no surviving issues of The Red Deer Echo or The Alberta Echo.

The Advocate Publishing Company -- whose shareholders included John Thomas Moore, Edward Michener, and George Albert Love -- continued publication of The Alberta Echo but changed its name to The Alberta Advocate. A stalwart Liberal newspaper, it began publication under that name in May 1903 on a weekly basis. The newspaper's masthead boldly stated, "An independent journal devoted especially to the interests of Central Alberta," while its motto proclaimed, "Hew to the line, let the chips fall where they may." For the first six months of 1904, the paper was published and edited by George Albert Love, one of the more fascinating personalities involved in journalism in Red Deer.

Born in the Bay of Quinte area, Love was ordained a Methodist minister in Ontario in 1885 and moved to the Willowdale district of Alberta in 1893. Two years later he went to New Denver, B.C., where he was a minister and chief owner and secretary of a silver mine at Slocan but returned to Red Deer in 1897, citing reasons of health for the move. By 1899 he had purchased the interest of D. …

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