In 1874, the Nanaimo Free Press was typical of small-town 19th-century newspapers – little more than one page and bearing advertising and local social events notices next to reports on foreign wars, commodity prices and schedules of ships carrying the world’s economy, typeset from telegraphed Morse code.
First published in April 1874 by George Norris as a semi-weekly, it became the Nanaimo Daily Free Press when it began publishing daily in 1888 and the Nanaimo Daily News in the late 1990s.
After 141 years of chronicling Nanaimo’s joys and sorrows, successes and disasters, marriages, births and deaths, the Nanaimo Daily News publishes its final edition Friday (Jan. 29).
“We chronicled the mine disasters and world wars, presidential assassinations and everything in between down to minor hockey scores and everything else,” said Philip Wolf, Daily News managing editor, with the paper since 1992. “This paper has had an impact on the lives of pretty much every single person in Nanaimo.”
Such impact has been acknowledged on occasion. In 2010, late sports reporter Michael (Rhodesie)Rhode was inducted into the Nanaimo Sports Hall of Fame alongside the city’s most notable athletes.
Editorial staff have earned their share of awards. Photographer Aaron Hinks, who joined the paper in September 2013, won gold in the 2015 B.C. Yukon Canadian Newspaper Association Ma Murray Awards feature photography and special publications categories.
“Coming here was easily the greatest decision I have made and I wouldn’t trade my time or experience at this city [and] paper for anything,” Hinks said.
The Daily News has been a stepping stone for many young reporters who’ve made their mark in journalism.
“Sorry to hear that the Nanaimo Daily is closing after 141 years. It was one of my early j-jobs and I loved my time there,” Noreen Flanagan, editor-in-chief of fashion magazine Elle Canada, posted on Twitter.
Sheila Malcolmson, Nanaimo-Ladysmith MP, said the Daily provided a “lens” for people on Gabriola Island to get information about their region.
“Strength in diversity, I say, so whenever we lose a voice, there’s a loss,” she said.