This year marks the 130th anniversary of The Chilliwack Progress. In celebration of the occasion, we asked four former editors and publishers to submit feature articles on their years at B.C.’s oldest community newspaper founded in 1891.
By Andrew Franklin
The first day I walked into The Chilliwack Progress, I knew I was joining a team with a huge responsibility to the community. At that time, May 1995, I knew little about Chilliwack or the people who worked tirelessly to make it a better place to live and raise a family.
In the 1990s, it was all about print and the delivery of news via the newspaper. Content mattered. Timely news mattered and a real connection with residents and businesses made for an incredible information ecosystem.
The deep connection with non-profit organizations was also integral to The Progress. I remember getting a call from two or three Rotarians within the first few weeks. The likes of Marian Dyck, at Odlum Brown, Dave Sliman at Waterstone Law Group and others about joining the local Rotary Club.
In no short time I became a Rotarian, later becoming president, and the same with the Chilliwack Chamber of Commerce. Belonging to these organizations showed me not only the importance of why they do what they do, but also the importance of how The Chilliwack Progress was able to play a role in helping achieve their objectives.
I was truly humbled to see the incredible number of volunteer hours given by so many people. Chilliwack has always been such a giving community. Volunteers like Harry Mertin, Craig Barton, Ana Macedo, Brenda Dehn, Kevin Wood, Brad Whittaker, or Jeff Fortin, to name but a few, were all part of a very large number of people giving back. Volunteers are the backbone of this city and kudos to you all!
I am extremely proud of the history recorded through The Progress since 1891 and also the fact that it is the oldest, consecutively published, newspaper in British Columbia. So much storytelling, so much history. From two world wars to the flood of ’48, Progress reporters covered stories that mattered to residents. During the snowstorm of 1996, few people could get around the city, however somehow, we managed to get a ‘special edition’ printed and distributed.
W.T. Jackman, founder of The Chilliwack Progress really created much more than a newspaper. The Progress very quickly became the way residents of Chilliwack relied on accurate trustworthy news and this has been the case for 130 years.
As the 10th publisher at The Progress, I was honoured to be its steward for a 10-year stretch and during that time we continued to change the way we do business. By early 2000, our readership had expanded considerably through a new website (theprogress.com) and not long after, social media arrived.
Part of the Back Press Media network of 80 news operations, The Progress is recognized as one of our larger news sites and continues to deliver vital news through the printed newspaper, but now also via a website, multiple social channels and of course its daily newsletters.
I was proud of the team back in 1995 and equally proud of all the efforts of the team here in 2021.
One thing remains the same – Chilliwack citizens rely on accurate and trustworthy news. As the go-to news platform in the city, our journalists, marketing professionals, circulation staff and carriers continue to do an outstanding job and despite the ever-evolving world of media, The Progress has continued to play a vital role in the past, present and now, the future.
Congratulations on 130 years of serving news and information to the people of Chilliwack.
Andrew Franklin is the former publisher of The Chilliwack Progress and is currently Black Press Media’s vice-president of Digital Operations for Canada.