The Minnedosa Tribune – The Oldest Weekly Newspaper in the Canadian West
The story of the oldest weekly newspaper in the Canadian west begins in early 1883 with a man by the name of William Gibbens.
Gibbens came to Canada in 1868 and worked for a number of Ontario newspapers, including the Prescott Tribune, Brockville Daily Recorder, and The Ottawa Citizen. During this time, he served as the Ottawa correspondent for the Montreal Gazette and The Chicago Times. In 1881, at the age of 27, Gibbens came to Manitoba and began publishing The Rapid City Standard. Two years later, he founded The Minnedosa Tribune.
The Tribune’s founder published the paper for only fourteen months before selling to one of his employees, Dave Cannon. Cannon had met Gibbens in Ottawa and followed him to Manitoba, working as the typesetter for both the Rapid City Standard and The Minnedosa Tribune.
Publisher Cannon ran The Tribune from May 1884 until August 1919. When he retired from the newspaper business at the age of 77, Cannon was considered by many of his colleagues at the time to be the oldest printer in Canada.
During his time as publisher, Dave Cannon resided on the farm near Bethany. Before he owned an automobile, Cannon rode his pony Daisy or used horse and buggy or cutter to travel back and forth from the farm to The Tribune office. In 1917 when one of his horses died, Cannon reported that the animals had made 50,000 miles carrying him back and forth to work.
Following Dave Cannon, Adam Crossley published The Tribune into the early 1930s. Adam had worked at the newspaper under Dave Cannon. Later in life, Adam Crossley was credited as founding The Minnedosa Foundation.
The next man to take the reins of The Tribune was Robert “Bob” Sanderson, who purchased the paper from his employer, Adam Crossley in 1931.
In the mid 1930s The Tribune employed a young editor by the name of Paris Eakins, who had aspirations to one day own the paper himself. Unfortunately, this was not to be as Paris was killed in action in August 1942 during the Battle of Dieppe. He was 28.
The current front portion of The Tribune building was built in the early 1940s during Sanderson’s ownership. This replaced a two storey wood framed office, which had been built to replace the original log structure which housed The Tribune printing office.
In 1950 Sanderson chose to change careers and opened a sporting goods and radio shop across the street from his newspaper office and sold The Tribune to his employee Earle Gordon.
In the mid 1950s, Earle brought one of the most colourful, and poetic writers to the Tribune staff. He was a gentleman by the name of Patrick Ryan, who served only a few short years as The Tribune’s editor. Before coming to the Tribune, Ryan had spent some 20 years behind bars for his earlier ill-fated career as a professional armed robber.
During the Gordon era, The Tribune underwent a number of changes. In the fall of 1966, The Tribune received its new offset press. In addition to a smaller, easier to handle page size, this allowed the paper to print two-colour advertisements. The October 17, 1967 edition featured The Tribune’s very first colour photograph on the front page.
Gordon upgraded again in 1975, when he introduced the first computer to the back shop of The Tribune. This machine called a “computgraphic photo composer” streamlined production and produced a more readable type for readers.
In October 1984, Earle sold The Minnedosa Tribune to his daughter Ruth Spencer, who had literally grown up at The Tribune office. Ruth operated the paper for five years selling it to Robert “Bob” Mummery in November 1989.
Bob, like the Tribune publishers before him, had worked at the paper before owning it. Mummery had worked for Publisher Gordon in the 1960s, melting lead for the linotype machine, as well as contributing the occasional article and cartoon for publication.
During Bob’s tenure as publisher, The Tribune again underwent some major changes and upgrades. In addition to a building renovation, Bob switched the operations and layout of the paper to a fully computerized system.
In the fall of 1990, the Comp/Set that was introduced by Publisher Gordon in the mid 1970s, was replaced by The Tribune’s first desktop publishing computer system. This brought hundreds of new fonts, borders and graphics to the pages of The Tribune.
Within the first year of Mummery’s ownership, The Tribune reached two milestones. The 64-page Christmas 1989 edition was the largest edition to be printed. Street sales and subscription numbers also reached an all time high on over 4,000 in 1990.
Publisher Mummery made newspaper history in 1996 when he introduced The Minnedosa Tribune as the first newspaper in Canada to be offered in its entirety on the internet. This service took off immediately and within a short time, The Tribune had over 200 “subcyberscribers.” The novelty soon wore off as readers missed receiving their hometown news in old fashioned paper format and dropped their internet subscription for a traditional subscription.
On November 1, 2006, exactly 17 years after he became publisher of The Tribune, Bob sold the business to his daughter Jennifer Muth. The Muth’s upgraded the interior appearance of The Tribune front office as well as undertaking a number of equipment upgrades during their ownership.
The historic newspaper changed hands again in 2008, when the Tribune’s reporter and editor, Darryl Holyk, purchased the business from the Muth’s. Holyk is the current and ninth publisher of The Minnedosa Tribune.
Throughout its long and rich history, The Minnedosa Tribune has undergone a number of changes. But through it all, one thing has remained the same: local content. From reporting major events throughout Minnedosa’s history, such as the 1948 dam collapse and the recent Husky Ethanol plant expansion, to small hometown news such as the social activities of our friends and neighbours, The Tribune has recorded it all within its pages. There is no better record of local happenings than a local community newspaper and the current owner and staff of Minnedosa’s oldest business look forward to the years ahead as we help record Minnedosa history.