Today’s edition of The Chilliwack Progress marks 130 years of publishing of the oldest newspaper in British Columbia.
The first four-page edition of The Progress was printed on Thursday, April 16, 1891.
Straddled on both sides by advertisements for J.T. Wilson Fine Boots & Shoes and A.C. Henderson Groceries, Dry-Goods, Clothing, among others, was the “news” of the day.
Prior to the common headline-story format, that first edition was less like news and was more like a laundry list of one-sentence ads, anecdotes of interest, reports on comings-and-goings of citizens, and a few items that today might be considered news.
“Wilkinson’s lots are admirably located,” with no context, read the first item in print in the first Progress ever.
“Chilliwack is noted for its excellent roads and there is not a hill throughout the entire valley,” read another.
“Mr. Isaac Kipp has just returned from the Upper Country where he disposed of his two valuable stallions at handsome figures,” readers were informed.
And then getting towards newsworthy: “It is encouraging to see that the spring of 1891 has not only been marked by great and substantial improvement in the cities of the Province, but that the spirit of enterprise and development has been extended to Chilliwack as well. Never in the history of the Province has there been such activity in the transfer and settlement of lands anywhere as in our city and vicinity, as is shown by the records within the last few months.”
And this, which seems cryptic out of context: “Owing to so much of our space being taken up with advertisements, we are obliged to leave over till next week a sketch of our trip from the East.”
Who is the “we”? The reference is to W.T. Jackman and his wife who came from Markdale, Ontario, to establish the newspaper in Centreville, “a new and flourishing village in Chilliwack valley.”
Jackman was the founder of The Chilliwack Progress.
Centreville, at Five Corners, would of course become Chilliwack, and that first edition on April 16, 1891, included a notice from the Markdale Standard newspaper under the headline: “Gone To The Coast” about Jackman’s journey to the Fraser Valley.
Of W.T. Jackman, the writer of the note, as it appeared in the first Progress, described him as a “good, practical printer, steady, industrious, and strictly honest, and richly deserves success.”
Advertising was clearly important in those pages, and the subscription to receive a year of The Progress was $2, paid in advance.
And so it went, a century and three decades on, The Progress continues to be the go-to source for Chilliwack news, information about local businesses, and of course in recent years with platform changes, a website to keep you informed 24/7.
The Progress remains the longest continuously published newspaper in British Columbia that with the addition of a thriving digital operation anchored by www.theprogress.com, delivers more news to more people than ever before.
And this is just a teaser, in June we will publish a 130th anniversary edition.
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