From the Trail Creek News in 1895 to the Trail Times in 2015

Newspaper grows from humble beginnings in 1895

2015 rings in 120 years of the Trail Times, which started as the Trail Creek News in the late 19th century.

The source of prosperity of the Trail Creek county is, of course, its magnificent ore bodies, according the first edition of the Trail Creek News. “Our interests at present lie centred in and about the noble structure that is rising foot by foot on the brow of the hill overhanging the beautiful town of Trail and of its growth and magnitude we now write,” noted the paper’s writer and editor W.F. Thompson on the inaugural front page.

The day was Saturday, Oct. 19, 1895 when Volume No. 1 of The Trail Creek News was hot off the presses.

Under the headline, “This Means You! When You Patronize the News You Help Trail Grow,” Thompson writes that it is now in order for every citizen of Trail to subscribe for the home newspaper, The Trail Creek News, and “the times are right for such a movement, the price is right and if the News of today is not all right, we will make it right in future issues.”

The price was said to be “cheap” at $2 per year, and the News office would be found open all day long and far into the night, and future readers were expected to hand in their subscription at once, so they would not miss one issue of the Trail newspaper. “If you want the news, you must read the News,” Thompson proclaimed almost 12 decades ago.

While there’s no silver or gold commemoration for more than a century of news reporting, the Trail Times staff decided an honorary pat on the back is deserving to all the people who have typed, pressed, written, delivered, or simply read their way into the 120-year history of the Silver City’s only surviving newspaper.

Over the course of the year, we will actively seek stories from people in the Greater Trail community such as long time subscribers, past paper carriers and retired office workers, who have memories to share about how the Trail Times has impacted their lives.

Local stories are key to staying connected to our readers, so we hope that sharing personal memories will spotlight how a local newspaper can deeply affect the community that surrounds it.

Also in the works, is a once a month Trail Times feature that will highlight an outstanding event or moment in each decade from 1895 until present.

While in today’s world we strive to convey stories both accurate and interesting, they don’t really compare to the colourful front page articles from the Trail Creek News. Thompson recounts in detail, the daily goings-on of a dusty remote town that wasn’t incorporated as a city until six years later.

In the first edition, he explains a brave deed by Chief Engineer Sproat of the steamer Lytton, who encumbered by clothes and extra heavy shoes sprang into the chilly waters of the swift Columbia and brought a nearly drowned man, Redney Robinson, to shore.

The story is replete in description and a little judgemental as Thompson writes, “if the man had kept still and allowed himself to be rescued – the chief would have been able to complete the feat without much trouble.”

Then two columns to the right, Thompson writes “He Lies On the Mountain Side, Near Trail,” in a separate rendition about the subsequent burial of Mr. Robinson, who succumbed to acute congestion of the lungs. Thompson writes, he was “taken to a beautiful place on the high plateau about half a mile above the town and there consigned to the friendly bosom of Mother Earth.”

Another cheeky headline titled  “A Bull in a China Closet,” tells of Topping & Hanna’s bull, that after a long picnic during the summer was nearing its end due to ‘midnight depredations. ‘ The story is a play-by-play according to ‘a certain cook in a certain hotel in Trail,’ who was awakened by a noise in the kitchen. Upon stepping into the dining room, the unfortunate man was met with ‘bellows’ and chased through the establishment by the animal.

“Then ensued the usual proceedings that follow the entry of a bull in a china shop, until the cook succeeded in driving the bovine out of doors,” he added.

Unfortunately the 120-year document, which is said to be written on wrapping paper borrowed from a neighbourhood grocery store, is in tatters, so the ending must be left to the current reader’s imagination.

In the Historical Portraits of Trail, provided by Sarah Benson from the Trail Museum and Archives, Thompson sold the business to W.K. Esling and W.E. Blackner in 1897, who sold the paper to Mr Elmer Hall, who later formed Hall Printing, in 1919.

The Trail Creek News became the Trail Daily Times in 1928 and continued to run the presses on Cedar Avenue until the 1980s. Black Press purchased the daily newspaper in 2010, and through an advanced computer system print the now four-day-a-week Trail Times publication in Penticton.

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