It was a different world when the Chilliwack Progress went to press for the first time 125 years ago.
Queen Victoria was still on the throne; John A. MacDonald was serving his last months as Canada’s Prime Minister; and Marie Curie, who pioneered our understanding of radioactivity, was a first-year student at university in Paris.
In Chilliwack, the lure of gold that had brought Europeans to the area had been replaced by the promise of agriculture. Roads were being built, farms established and industry taking root.
Optimism was evident in those early pages of the Chilliwack Progress.
Wrote W.T. Jackman in the April 16 first edition: “We are most decided in our opinion that there is a grand future in store, both for the Chilliwack Valley, and the great province of British Columbia with all her varied and inexhaustible resources.”
That confidence would be tried. (Indeed, three years later the city was virtually submerged in the great flood of 1894.)
But the path forward was constant.
“Chilliwack has now entered upon a career of prosperity,” proclaimed the front page story announcing plans for a fruit cannery. “The village of Chilliwack is booming.”
As the Chilliwack Progress begins to mark its 125th year chronicling this march, we are cognizant of our past, but confident the best days are still to come.
As British Columbia’s oldest community newspaper (published continuously with the same name in the same community), we’ve watched (and recorded) the growth of our community.
We’ve also witnessed the changes in our own industry – from the lead type and early offset presses, to an online presence that includes video, social media, and even a digital version of (almost) every paper we’ve published since that first issue on April 16, 1891.
In the months ahead we’ll be doing more to recognize that unique history, including a special edition later in April.
In the meantime, readers will note a new addition to our banner. It’s a reminder of where we’ve been, and how far we’ve come.