Early Manitoba Rural Newspapers
by Major A. M. Pratt
MHS Transactions, Series 3, 1957-58 Season
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1. If you were the editor of a new weekly newspaper, how would you introduce your fledgling to the public? *
In a statement in the first column the editors, William Coldwell and William Buckingham, wrote:
"The undersigned have now commenced the publication of a newspaper in the Red River Settlement near Fort Garry entitled The Nor' Wester and devoted to the varied and rapidly growing interests of that region. Exploring parties under the direction respectively of the Canadian and British Governments have established the immediate availability for the purpose of colonization of the vast country watered by the Red River, the Assiniboine and the Saskatchewan; and private parties of American constitution following Captain Palliser are engaged in determining the practicability of rendering this great overland road to the gold deposits of British Columbia. The Red River Settlement is the home of a stable population, hardy, industrious, and thrifty; occupying a fine farming country with all the advantages of prairie and timber combined. It has churches many; and educational advantages which will endure comparison with those of more pretentious communities. And for hundreds of miles beyond stretches one of the most magnificent agricultural regions in the world, watered abundantly with lakes and navigable rivers with a sufficiency of timber, with vast prairies of unsurpassed fertility, with mineral resources in some parts of no common value and with climate as salubrious as it is delightful. Such a country cannot long remain unoccupied. We came here as "strangers in a strange land", not as enemies intent upon spying out its nakedness -not as adventurers indifferent to all considerations save those of self - not as persons resolved to further the ends of party or of faction at whatever cost to the peace of the country. We came with a view of making this place our home. We came persuaded that the time has arrived when this fertile and magnificent country, thrown open to people of all lands, needs an exponent of its opinion, its feelings, its varied yet common interests through the medium of the press."
The editors went on to discuss the "policy" of the Nor' Wester.
"Of course the Red River country will have its politics - has them now in fact. But we contend that at present these pertain to material development not to theoretical argument, still less to retrospective quarrels. The not distant action of the Imperial Government, coupled with the policy which the Canadian Legislature may indicate at its next session, will necessarily throw upon us the duty of dealing more specifically with matters to which we now generally refer. We prefer to await that action before plunging into political discussion."
The Morden Times
Editor: J. F. Galbraith (“Jeff Gee”)
Did you notice that date line - Vol. IV, No. 2, Sept. 15, 1883? That places the date of the first issue of Galbraith's Mountaineer as September 8, 1880. My curiosity in these matters aroused, I turn to our archives to see if this was the first of the local weekly newspapers of Manitoba. If there still survives in you the passion for "firsts" so characteristic of a pioneer land, you will be interested to know that as far as I can tell from our records and the bound volumes in the Legislative Building, the first English weekly outside Winnipeg was published at Morris on Jan. 1, 1877. With a bow to Framfari, an Icelandic journal which appeared at Riverton that same year, we pass to the Emerson International of 1878; then, third on the list, to the Manitoba Mountaineer of Nelson. The next four years indicate very clearly the growth of the prairie towns of Manitoba: 1881 - the Pilot Mound Signal; 1882 - the Brandon Mail and the Gladstone Age; 1883 - the Rapid City Standard and Vindicator, the Minnedosa Tribune, the Belmont News, and the Brandon Blade; 1884 - the Birtle Observer, the Neepawa Canadian Register, the Liberal and the Tribune of Portage la Prairie, the Brandon Sun, the Selkirk Herald, and the Stonewall News.
The Times of Deloraine
(Editor: W. H. Daubney)
"Thoroughly aware that the farmer is the backbone of the country, anything and everything which affects his interests will have attention, and the columns of the Times will always be open to the discussion of matters relating to the farm by farmers themselves, believing that the farmer is more competent to judge the matters affecting him and his farm than others who are not farmers" - so wrote W. H. Daubney, on Thursday, November 10, 1887, in Volume 1, Number 1, of the Deloraine Weekly Times and Turtle Mountain and Souris River Gazette; and the policy laid down by Daubney, whose own education had been enriched by his farming experience, has been generally observed by his successors. This insistence upon agricultural interest has added greatly to the value of the Times both as a current commentary and as an historical record of the fortunes of the southwest corner of our province.
(Editor: George S. B. Perry)
"In the march of progress and improvement of every land one of the chief factors is the Press - and by no means the least. The Dauphin district - this newer Manitoba - is fast progressing to that prominent and important position which its natural advantages and capabilities have fitted it to reach and hold. It is therefore fitting that the power of the press should be enlisted in the advancement of the district."
Perry's first editorial on April 1, 1896 might be taken as a model of propriety for the local weekly. It is excellently written and its statement of policy is admirable:
"Editorially we shall be found aiding with all our ability the true interests of the district and its residents. Every enterprise of public or individual nature which will tend to the up building of a prosperous contented people may count on our heartiest support. However, if occasion should arise that our opinions should be expressed in the course of right, while we will make no personal issues nor allow such to influence our course, our editorial opinions will be independently given without fear. This journal is not a political organ, nor is its publisher a politician. He merely reserves for himself every man's right of freedom but such will in no way be allowed to influence the course this journal will pursue."
The editor of the Pioneer Press was fully alive, as were the pioneer settlers, to the possibilities of the Dauphin district:
"It is safe to say that no new country, not even excepting British Columbia and the Lake of the Woods gold districts, is attracting so much attention at this time as the great Dauphin district with its vast areas of undeveloped farm lands of superior quality, its stores of timber and fuel, its well-watered cattle runs and hay lands, and its known sources (mostly undeveloped) of natural wealth."
(Editor: Jas. N. McDonald)
On May 12, 1892 there appeared the Virden Chronicle, Volume 1, Number 1. Its editor, Jas. N. McDonald, promised:
"The editorial columns of the Chronicle will be carefully attended to, and the opinions expressed will be the unbiased opinions of its editor gained by a thorough study and uninfluenced by personal or mercenary motives. The responsibilities of even a small country newspaper are extremely weighty and its influence for good or evil is enormous. Realizing these responsibilities, it will always be our aim to range the Chronicle on the side of right and always to the utmost oppose the wrong."
2. How would you deal with local political issues in which your policy may conflict with that of the authority involved?
The Nor' Wester
On March 14, 1860, the Nor' Wester gave voice to its first real grievance - its reporters had been prevented from attending and reporting a meeting of the Council. Its headlines flamed: The Council of Assiniboia ... Exclusion of the Press. In the course of its objection to this procedure the editors wrote: "It may be suggested that the Council is not elective and therefore the people cannot claim those privileges in relation to it which we accorded to British subjects everywhere else. We reply that if its non-elective character is a sufficient deference for all abuses with which it may be chargeable, the sooner it is made elective, the better."
On April 28, 1860, the Nor' Wester published an editorial which spoke more strongly than heretofore on this highly significant issue. Under the heading, The Political Condition of this Country, the paper stated boldly:
"There is a feeling of dissatisfaction in this Settlement with our local legislature. It is directed not so much against the councillors for not doing their duty as against the constitution of the Council which is so framed as to better free action on the part of the members. Our tariff is absurd and inadequate and the method of collecting the custom duties equally unsatisfactory. There is also a want of proper control over public funds. In regard to matters such as these the Council is passive and helpless - it looks on and cannot or will not interfere. The people have no means of redress as the councillors receive their commissions direct from the Hudson's Bay House in London and do not depend on the suffrages of the taxpayers for their seats ... A Red River Council ought to be elective and its discussions ought to be open to the public."
Toward the end of the year, the Nor' Wester explained its own attitude to the burning question of the day:
"Some of our readers would fain have us take up a position of decided and determined hostility to the Hudson's Bay Company; others would have us sustain them through thick and thin. We decline to comply with either pressure. We detest peddling partisanship and shall ever hold ourselves free and unfettered, so that at all times and with all parties we may approve or disapprove according as our own unbiased judgement may dictate."
But the "Jeff Gee" who had "perpetrated" Both Sides could, and did, write in a vein far from genial when he was tilting at his most villainous wind-mill giant-the railway monopoly. Turn carefully the mouldering pages of the Mountaineer - for they are getting very fragile - and read a two-column editorial in the issue of July 19, 1884 - Gabbling of the Manitoba South-Western by the C.P.R.: "This iniquity was consummated last fall. Winter has come and gone but not a single additional mile has been constructed ...
"President Stephen may luxuriate in his new million dollar mansion and listen to the captivating music of his ten thousand dollar piano; but what of the starving settlers in South-Western Manitoba? The lordly Van Horne, it is true, has been good enough to say that the southwestern road will be built as soon as money can be provided; but in the meantime who will provide bread for the hungry mouths or clothes to cover the nakedness of shivering little ones? Has the time of William Lyon McKenzie(sic) come again, and are women and children to `gnaw the bark off the trees for food'? If farmers' wives and little children in the west grow hollow-eyed, fade and die, who will be guilty of MURDER?"
It was with a feeling of genuine disappointment that I found in the News of March 26, 1887 - Valedictory: "With this issue the Manitoba News ceases to exist and the publisher withdraws from a connection which has now lasted over seven years.
"In the discussion of political questions I have occasionally hit out hard and have been struck back with corresponding vigour. But the hitting has always been in manly fashion above the belt and from the shoulder and there has been no smoke or dust after the conflict. I now retire from the lists under a serene sky and I hope with many pleasant remembrances of staunch political friends and honourable political opponents" ... It seemed a pity for him to retire.
Galbraith's avid interests were wide-flung-but of special concern to him were matters pertaining to the development of the community he served. Jan. 21, 1887 - Water and Sewerage: "At the present the town of Morden is being supplied for the most part with water obtained from shallow wells sunk in contaminated soil. The water at best is not good for it carries a solution of alkaline salts varying in quantity in different parts of the town, but in the absence of sewerage these wells develop into traps for fever germs and other poisonous emanations of the soil, and in the natural course of things must constantly grow worse under the system now in vogue. Now there are two methods by which a generous supply of reasonably pure water can be obtained. One is to dam Dead Horse Creek on the old Dubberley place a mile to the West, by which means a large lake could be formed sufficient for the needs of a city population."
St. James Leader
In April of the year 1930, the Leader exploded with indignation. Those of you who are familiar with the development of the municipalities of Manitoba will know the story of the supervisory activities of the Municipal and Public Utility Board. You may remember that when legislative sanction was given in 1873 for the establishment of municipalities with financial powers, the Manitoban gloomily predicted that the province would soon be staggered with municipal debts. To some extent that prediction was justified - a number of local authorities did exercise their borrowing powers with a considerable degree of optimism. Some curb was inevitable if financial stability was to be assured. In 1927, the provincial government had established the Utility Board which from time to time looms large in the news - usually when conflict arises! The St. James Leader came out on April 4 with the startling caption: The Council Receives Orders.
The Board had directed that the Council should raise the millrate three mills and cut down certain expenditures. What followed is of interest to any student of democratic government - an elective body, with the full support of its electors, came into direct clash with an appointed commission. Fundamental principles of representative government emerge-for both the municipal council and the commission are the creations of the authority which set them up, and with that authority, in this case, the provincial government, must rest the last word.
"Our many times one-man delegation, Mr. John Steven, appeared before council and made one of his well-known and earnest pleas on behalf of his fellow citizens. This time he urged that they were delinquent in general adult knowledge inasmuch as they were not sufficiently well-versed in municipal affairs. He hesitated to call them ignorant, but thought that St. James being brought to such situation of financial well-being in comparison to by-gone years as it was today; and in view of the poor school facilities which had been its lot in the past with no thought of expenditures for adult education, it was perhaps time that the council considered some adequate means of educating the adult members of the citizenry to a better understanding of municipal affairs."
Postscript: I had intended to end there, and indeed had drawn three asterisks, which is my way of saying "30", when an open letter in the issue of November 10, 1954, came to my notice. It was written by the editor to Mr. John Steven, and as it throws a light not only on the character of the man to whom it is addressed but also on the kindly nature of the man who wrote it, I think it is worthy of your attention:
"First let me comment on your consistent use of your local newspaper to which we are aware that you and your father are original subscribers, which has resulted in bringing before the people many public questions of the day with your usual intelligent comments thereon. We do not always agree with these, your fundamental ideology being somewhat different from ours, but have the highest regard for your sincerity and admiration for your sturdy defence of your Canadian Citizenship and your observance of these rights as a Canadian citizen first and last."
3. How would you deal with a rival paper in your own district?
In an editorial written for the August 18, 1904 issue, the Spectator expressed editorially the dim view it took of a friendly reproof which had appeared in a neighbouring paper, the Grandview Exponent. Entitled "The Sage of Grandview," the article ran:
"Our learned and sacred friend of the Grandview Exponent having laid down new doctrines which he says must be respected and adhered to, launches out in a tirade of abuse against this journal.
"In his issue of the 12th instant he says the Spectator resorted to low personalities and that it is not a commendable paper to have about one's house on account of its insuavity and monkey-trick attempts at ridicule. Well we must admit that there is a vast difference between the flea-bitten sheet which says nothing or something so dull and in-comprehensive that people fall asleep reading it, and an up-to-date newspaper that caters to the public and their welfare; and the sooner some of those Noah's Ark editors pull themselves from that old rut of quoting: "Bill Hoskins' cow had a calf" and "Mrs. Jeannette Bluebottle is visiting her 32nd cousin" the sooner will we have an up-to-date rural press that would be recognized as such and not a patent medicine almanac.
"The Spectator, like all honest newspapers, enjoys a controversy on public affairs but will take no part in direct attacks upon another journal in an endeavour to injure its circulation or standing in the community.
"The worthy editor of the Exponent with a tear-stained cheek and a sudden outburst of sympathy extends a small decoction of commiseration to the editor of this paper in referring to his early newspaper tuition. We are very thankful for the consideration shown us and we earnestly hope that the learned journalist will take a trip into civilization and become infused with some twentieth century ideas and impart them to the public.
"Professor Graham ends his article on the Spectator with the following: There is an old adage about people who live in houses of glass which we would commend to the Spectator man's attention and by honestly observing the advice contained therein he may avoid a whole lot of unpleasant truths which could be put in cold type.
"Thus it will be observed that in his first breath he condemns personal attacks and in the next intimates that if the Spectator dares to say any more about him or his actions he will bring his cold type (kept for such occasions) into play and attack both the Spectator and its editor.
"Owing to the fact that we have all due respect for the truth when told with good motives and none for the slanderous lie we have nothing to fear from that cold type proposition and invite him to load his little cannons and discharge it upon the unwary public without delay."
For two years the Virden Advance and its "esteemed contemporary" the Virden Chronicle, existed side by side in an atmosphere of mutual disesteem. There were naturally many rumblings to indicate a coming eruption. The top blew off in May, 1894 over what may seem to us today a comparatively trifling matter - the Advance claimed that the Town Council had paid the Chronicle for printing its financial statement, two dollars and forty cents more than it need have paid had the job been put up for public tender. The Chronicle replied somewhat unctuously:
"The Town Council, like the majority of our citizens, believe in getting printing done neatly even at an extra cost of a few cents, and not where a blacksmith and a boy of a few months' experience are the sole members of such an elaborate establishment as the Virden Advance job department."
Now when the editor of the Advance wanted really caustic comment on any subject he turned the job over to "The Old Jackdaw". In the issue of May 24, 1894, that old bird went to work:
"Our worthy (or unworthy) contemporary down the street apparently, to quote the well-known though somewhat brusque axiom, forgets the hole from which he was dug." After a few biting comments on the Chronicle he concluded: "I cannot help regretting that he had not used a milder and less objectionable argument than the one of 'only a blacksmith'. Why should not a blacksmith manipulate facts as well as those that are supposed to be of finer clay? Only a blacksmith! Yes! Michael Faraday was only a blacksmith and what did he become? Ray was only a blacksmith, but what rays of light did he reflect upon his own and succeeding generations! Watt was only a ship-wright, Franklin was only a tallow chandler, Dalton only a hand-loom weaver, Fraunhofer only a glazier, Davy an apothecary's assistant, Stanley only a butcher boy, Lincoln and Garfield only canal boys! But what did they become? Giants of intellect, invention and usefulness. Please, Mr. Chronicle, to remember that a plebeian birth is no disgrace but an invaluable stepping stone to fame and usefulness. The majority of eminent men in every department of life have been drafted from the village, the farm or the workshop."
To this the Chronicle in its issue of May 31 replied at length:
"Our esteemed local contemporary takes umbrage at the terms 'a blacksmith and a boy of a few months' experience' being applied by us to the sole employees of its elaborate job printing department.
"We will not condescend to notice any of the innuendoes made by our contemporary which may be termed not only vulgar and unseemly but unbusinesslike in the highest degree. The cap that he has taken so much pains to manufacture does not fit us so we will not wear it. He evidently had in his mind's eye while writing his malicious and libellous innuendoes the practices of his own journal with which he is on more familiar terms than he is with ours.
"In conclusion we may state that we do not think there is another paper in the province that could stoop to such a low degraded standard as to let its columns contain such malicious statements as appear in last week's Advance, even as a last resort to avert the breakers ahead towards which this edifying journal has been gradually drifting during the last few weeks, to gratify the malice of its ignoramus editor."
On which the Advance commented:
"In its impotent fury at the well-made blows given it by the 'blacksmith', our contemporary down the street lashed the dirty water surrounding itself until it was all but wallowing in mud. The result of this was about two-and-a-half columns of its last issue taken up with abuse of the Advance.
"In conclusion we may inform our contemporary that we do not set up to be 'a Faraday, a Ray, or a giant of intellect.' We may simply claim to be a common everyday local editor who runs his business on fair, honest principles publishing a clean, wholesome local newspaper, guided in doing so by certain moral principles from which no offers of gold or threats of disastrous consequences can swerve us."
4. How would you deal with ill-mannered criticism?
Just one glance at the Chronicle of April 2, 1903.
Shots at Passing Shadows. By a Cynic of the Sidewalk: "A gentleman in whose sober judgment I have the greatest confidence has expressed a very strong opinion that nothing would grace the head of our mayor so well as a good silk hat. But without some additional wardrobe I am afraid that the top hat and a pair of pistols would smack too much of an African Chief only half-converted to Christianity and would spoil that instinctive sovereignity of bearing which we now chiefly admire in the head of our city." The "Cynic" did not stop there - well for him had he done so! He might not then have been quite so severely castigated in the next issue of the Chronicle in a letter headed, Superque Satis - a phrase which some of you may recognize from your early studies of Virgil's Aeneid as "enough and more than enough". -"The last shot of our learned satirist was, we feel, cowardly aimed for we know as he does, that the victim has not the necessary weapons to retaliate with a dose of literary abuse. Such an act might be overlooked in an empty-headed youth, but in the name of common sense and justice is it becoming to a man living in this Christian age and gifted, we hope, with a common store of reason to so far forget himself as to indulge in such puerile ridicule of a fellow citizen - His contemptuous abuse and grating satire is not personal but general - it reflects as well on those whose votes have made Mr. Schmitz mayor of Morden."
To which the Cynic replied weakly in the next issue - "To find what we intended as moonshine received with solemn shakes of the head as though I were dealing with grave facts is to say the least not encouraging. On this particular occasion the editor of the Chronicle was away from home and I seized the opportunity to give my imagination a somewhat looser view than usual ... I have no ill-feeling against the mayor. I do not profess to know anything about him and I care less. I believe he is an excellent mayor; indeed I do not know anyone better fitted to fill that position."
That was, as far as I could learn, the last shot fired by the Cynic of the Sidewalk. He had overstepped that undefined but very rigidly drawn line that marks off things that ARE NOT DONE!
Look at him as the editor of the Chronicle administers a well deserved reproof to a fellow editor - Editorial Duties: "The Manitou Mercury last week contains a publication from a councillor in the municipality of Derby. We know nothing of the subject upon which the communication bears; our interest is in another direction. The writer is unmistakably an uneducated man and his letter is badly constructed, ungrammatical and indeed as faulty from a literary point of view as it well can be. The editor of the Mercury has seen fit to publish this letter with all its glaring faults brought out in minutest detail, the object being to bring the writer into ridicule.
"His letter decently edited would be a vast improvement on the editorials in the Mercury which flow from the pen of that journal's gifted editor. It is a well understood fact that a trained editor stands between an immature writer and the public. His duty it is to correct and revise and make presentable. Every editor recognizes this task as just as legitimate and obligatory upon him as writing editorials - in fact a great deal more so . . . " Mr. Galbraith did not stop there!
5. How would you deal with local distress?
May 30, 1934 - A Serious Situation: "One of the difficult tasks that an editor must face at this time is the writing of a weekly weather and crop report. It is bad enough to live in the midst of conditions as they exist today and to listen to the discouraging reports that come in from day to day without having to bring them forcibly to one's mind.
"It can be said without a doubt that this district has never in its history faced such a serious situation as it does today, emphasized the more by the failures of the past few years. The last week continued hot and dry - the only relief being the lack of high winds that prevailed earlier in the season. So dry has it become that crops, grass and foliage are burning up and turning brown with lack of fodder for livestock becoming more serious from day to day.
"Hopes for rain have not been realized and the continuation of this dry spell for a few more days will make conditions really critical. Stock in many places are already reported as dying for lack of feed. The dry area is so wide-spread that it is difficult to find a place where stock might be taken.
"Added to the drought problem is the grasshopper menace which has now become apparent. This menace does not appear to cover the whole district but only in spots."
From now on the notes made from our archives read like weekly bulletins of a serious sickness vitally affecting a whole community, with an occasional gleam of hope serving only to accentuate the gathering gloom.
June 6, 1934 - Joy: "Joy came to the hearts of everyone in this district when on Monday afternoon it commenced to rain and continued throughout the afternoon and part of the evening, in all about half an inch ... Farmers in this district are busily making plans to locate feed and land in northern Manitoba where they can move their stock. This is a sad state of affairs."
June 13 - Stock leaving: "A large amount of stock has already left the district and some farmers have moved their whole equipment."
June 20 - Grasshoppers: "The optimism created by frequent showers is, however, considerably offset by the discouraging reports coming in as regards the grasshopper menace. Hopes have been buoyed up by reports of the grasshoppers dying in thousands from some worm but although this may be true to some extent yet there continues to be sufficient grasshoppers to do enormous irreparable damage and they are making up for the time they lay dormant on account of the cool weather."
June 27 - Dust: "The rain has ceased to fall and has been replaced again by dust storms - today being the worst we have had for several weeks; a strong wind from the west filling the air with dust, and so far no indications of rain.
"During the past few days grasshoppers have been moving in from the dry areas further west and mowing down everything before them. Now that most of them have taken wing, they are beyond control by poison."
July 11 - Unparalleled Situation: "As a result of drought, grasshoppers and extreme heat, the citizens of this community find themselves faced with a situation unparalleled in the fifty years' history of this district. It is now a foregone conclusion that in the area from the eastern boundary of Winchester to the Saskatchewan boundary no grain will be threshed this fall. This is a bleak picture to paint but it is well that we face the facts and prepare for the future."
In a thoughtful article which occupied almost the whole front page of the Deloraine Times, the editor described the grim situation very clearly. A social historian may see one of our weekly newspapers called upon to justify its claim to be the voice of the community - and he may note how nobly the editor of the Times, Mr. J. M. George (now His Honour Judge J. M. George), met the challenge. In his long and careful appraisal, he outlined what he considered to be the responsibility of the individual, of the municipality, and of the provincial and federal governments. He proposed an immediate survey of the needs of the whole community - "Such a work," he wrote, "if undertaken properly by a local organization or by the Council at the request of the people, could be completed in very few days, and when completed and summarized could be presented to the government by a committee or by municipal officials, thus presenting accurate information in which immediate action could be taken." - In all, an admirably level-headed piece of writing done in a time of crisis.
On July 8, 1934, the Times was able to report that the Council had been asked to make a survey of the distressed districts; and the following week it announced the appointment of a Central Relief Committee for the whole drought area.
September 12 - Citizens Organize to Meet Emergency: "All citizens will be united in the face of the present need. Already word has come that carloads of vegetables and fruit and bales of clothing are being sent by friends in various parts of the country. Churches, fraternal societies, farmers' organizations, women's institutes, and private individuals are responding to meet the need of the southwest. Garden crops have not been so large as last year in the north and west but the willingness to help seems greater and there is every assurance that there will be enough to supply every cellar and every home."
It is always enheartening to see the way in which the men and women of Canada respond to such an appeal as this. Many of us living in the more favoured northern districts that year well remember the filling of those box cars - all of us recall the more recent spontaneous aid from all parts of the country to the Red River Valley in time of flood. The Deloraine Times that fall tells the story - More Vegetables and Fruit Arrive ... A Car of Apples from Penticton ... Big Bundles of Clothing from the East ... Car of Mixed Produce from Marquette ... Penticton Co-operative Fruit Growers Send Another Car ... until on November 7 the Times was able to announce, "The need for vegetables and fruit in the district is being met."
6. How would you pay tribute to a great editor?
The Deloraine Times of February 14, 1895, came out with black edged columns: "It is with profound regret that we record the death of the editor of this paper, Mr. W. H. Daubney, on Sunday evening last ... In private life he was sincere and one of nature's true gentlemen. His most prominent characteristics were his sterling honesty of purpose and his sturdy independence of opinion, refusing to be led where his conscientious beliefs would be in the least compromised."
His widow, Mrs. Florence E. Daubney, became the editor of the Deloraine Times, one of the first of the women of Manitoba to run a weekly newspaper.
But the most touching tribute to "Bill" Marsh was that written by his daughter, Helen, who had assumed editorship of the Dauphin Herald in February, 1946. It ran:
"During the past eighteen years we who have been under the influence of the Herald way of reporting, editorial writing and business management can feel nothing but pride and thankfulness for the high principles, and standards that have been set for our guidance. We have learned that it is not easy to stand alone and call a spade a spade, but that on the other hand there is a lasting satisfaction in saying and doing what one feels is right without thought of personal gain. We have learned that it is not too important that everyone agree with what is written in this column nor that we should expect to be a hundred percent right in our judgment at all times, so long as this newspaper served to keep others sufficiently informed and challenged to work in what they consider to be the best interests of the community and country."
Miss Marsh concluded her tribute with the words her father himself had used when he took over the responsibility of editorship.
"The success or otherwise of the Herald will depend almost entirely upon the closeness and fidelity with which it follows the ideals that have been consistently in front of it for over a score of years."
* Editor's Note: This paper is presented as it was delivered. Major Pratt posed several questions and then, so to speak, let the newspapers answer them.
Page revised: 22 May 2010