More than a few decades and many hands later, two bound copies of archived newspapers dating from 1960-1965 have finally returned to the 100 Mile Free Press.
The newspapers, under the banner of the 100 Mile Herald – the predecessor to the Free Press – fill an important gap in the newspaper’s history, much of which was lost in a fire in April 1980. The blaze destroyed the Free Press building and all the equipment, the plant and 20 years of irreplaceable newspaper files, pictures and negatives.
“I am so happy that they have found their way back to where they should be and they’ll be here for future reference,” said Marianne Van Osch, one of the newspapers’ caretakers over the years. “I’m just very pleased they’ve returned to where they should be, they’ve come home.”
The story of how the archives were preserved begins in Forest Grove and in the founding of the Free Press itself. In 1960, former Vancouver Sun reporter Carol Shaw moved from Vancouver to 100 Mile House with her family and, shortly after arriving, realized the community needed a newspaper.
READ MORE: From the archives of the 100 Mile Free Press
In those days, it was an extremely difficult thing to do, Van Osch said, because there were no facilities for producing or printing a paper. In addition, much of the town at the time was owned by the Emissaries of the Divine Light led by Martin Exeter so there wasn’t a lot of advertising revenue to be had.
To get her paper printed, Shaw relied on her friend Irene Stengle, whose family had founded the Williams Lake Tribune to help get her started. Shaw would write the paper, go to Williams Lake to help layout the type for printing and then transport the papers to 100 Mile House herself.
“Carol started this by flying by the seat of her pants with little funds and she worked extremely hard because she was the only writer,” Van Osch said.
In 1965, the 100 Mile Herald and South Cariboo Advertiser, owned by Steve Smele, was purchased by Herald House Publications Ltd., a company formed by U.S. chiropractor Dr. Joe Maynard. Maynard became the publisher of the new paper, which carried the masthead of the 100 Mile News Herald, assisted by Shaw as editor.
In 1967, the name was changed to the 100 Mile Free Press. Chris Foster took over the editorial slot, while Fred Traff replaced Maynard as the publisher.
Shaw kept meticulous copies of the newspaper she had founded, which were eventually inherited by her daughter Sherri McLean. McLean then gifted them to Van Osch, who went through them one winter before passing them on to Shelley Minato, a teacher at Peter Skene Ogden Secondary School. Minato then donated them to the Free Press.
Van Osch said keeping in touch with history – be it that of an individual, community or newspaper – enrichens our lives, by giving us a sense of the past that makes the future that much more interesting.