30th Anniversary: First edition of Saanich News proves to be elusive

Reporter follows a trail from museum archives to the provincial legislature in search of newspaper's first issue

Reporter Travis Paterson holds up the third edition of the Saanich News

Reporter Travis Paterson holds up the third edition of the Saanich News

It is with tremendous pride and excitement that we celebrate the Saanich News’ 30th anniversary.

But I must admit, there is hollow feeling that comes with the defeat that I could not, despite my efforts, locate a first issue of the Saanich News.

Finding that first Saanich News soon turned into a matter of pride. When our team committed to creating a special section for the Saanich News’ 30th anniversary, I jumped at the task. It was my assignment, my choice to chase it down.

Granted, even if I had located the first issue, it wasn’t going to hold the value of a first-edition Spiderman comic. But it was an adventure regardless. And while the adventure didn’t draw the Indiana Jones out of any local archivists and librarians, I thank those of them who assisted me throughout the campaign.

It grew obvious to me that there was more uncovered trying to find a copy of the first edition, than finding out what our first lead story was. And what I found was that the deeper I dug, the more fascinating the Saanich News’ history became.

Like Rogue One and the Titanic, we know what happens in the ending, but the journey’s been a heck of a ride.

The first thing I discovered was that Steve Hanson was part of the Saanich News’ startup in 1986. It was a three-person office on Penrhyn Street in Cadboro Bay. Sadly, Hanson passed away earlier this year. Archival records suggest that the Gordon Head News predated the Saanich News by 10 months to January of 1986. But in all my searches, there was no physical evidence of the Gordon Head News prior to 1988.

As for the Saanich News office, it grew to 11 people by the end of 1987 and relocated to 1020 McKenzie Ave. (by the Monkey Tree Pub). By 1989, it was purchased by David Black, who had moved to Oak Bay in 1985 and was quickly buying up the Island papers. Black, with newspaperman George Manning, continued a model on the Island that Black started in Williams Lake and put together a cluster of newspapers and a printing press.

I met with Black to talk about the paper’s 30th anniversary, but he knew little of the paper’s origins that preceded his purchase.

Still, I didn’t think finding the first Saanich News issue was going to be the most challenging task for the 30th anniversary edition, which it soon became.

It would have to be somewhere in the massive pile of blue books that make up the Saanich News archives. We are blessed that bound copies for 22 of our first 30 years in print have followed us to our most current office, at 3550 Saanich Rd., next to Uptown. And while the issues date back to 1986, the year we started, it comes up strangely short.

With all this talk about the elusive holy grail of Saanich News issues, here’s what we did find. The earliest Saanich News edition in our office is the third issue, for the week of Nov. 28 to Dec. 3, 1986. That’s just two weeks after what is logically believed to be the first issue.

“I’m close, I can work with this,” I thought.

Next came a trip to Greater Victoria Public Library’s Centennial branch at Pearkes, home of the Saanich Archives, where Saanich archivist Sonia Nicholson confirmed the first copy could not be found there. However, she did locate two copies of the 1939 Saanich News, which is quite likely the first ever. A completely different incarnation, that pre-Second World War paper was short lived but strived to serve the community in the same manner as we do today.

By the end, I had pored through the online Library Archives Canada, visited the Central branch of the Greater Victoria Public Library and B.C.’s Legislative Library.

All had references to the Saanich News, but not what I was looking for.

The closest I came was in the B.C. Archives next to the Royal B.C. Museum. I opened a drawer and inside were several spools with Saanich News handwritten on the boxes.

For a moment, I thought I was Saanich’s Indiana Jones. I thought, “This is it.”

A silver-haired fellow looking up 20th century logging on a microfiche next to mine helped me set up the 1986 Saanich News microfilm. There I found the second issue. Closer, but not the first.

 

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Island Health has confirmed the first long term care facility outbreak in Greater Victoria at Veterans Memorial Lodge in Saanich. (Google Maps)
Island Health records first long-term care COVID outbreak in Greater Victoria

Veterans Memorial Lodge in Saanich confirms one positive staff member

Itty, a Siamese cat, has been missing since a house fire in Victoria’s Fernwood neighbourhood on Friday, Nov. 27. Her owner says she has white fur with blonde and grey markings. (Facebook/ROAM)
Cat goes missing after house fire in Fernwood neighbourhood

‘Itty’ has white fur, blonde and grey markings and blue eyes

The Saanich Fire Department Station #2 C-Battalion members (left to right) firefighter Clayton Tilon, firefighter Bonnie Fiala, firefighter Zay Hamilton, Capt. Dawrin Schellenberg and firefighter Charlie Rivers show off their BC Emergency Health Servicecs Vital Link Award. (Photo courtesy Darwin Schellenberg)
Saanich firefighters receive Vital Link Award from paramedics for life-saving CPR

Award issued to C-Battalion, civilian for help saving cardiac arrest patient in June

An aerial view over Oak Bay. (Black Press Media File Photo)
An aerial view over Oak Bay and the Marina. Oak Bay residents pay the highest taxes on Vancouver Island. Don Denton/Black Press
Oak Bay secondary suites study considers units old and new

Secondary suites draft report due in new year

(Dave Landine/Facebook)
VIDEO: Dashcam captures head-on crash between snowplow and truck on northern B.C. highway

Driver posted to social media that he walked away largely unscathed

Black Press Media and BraveFace have come together to support children facing life-threatening conditions. Net proceeds from these washable, reusable, three-layer masks go to Make-A-Wish Foundation BC & Yukon.
Put on a BraveFace: Help make children’s wishes come true

Black Press Media, BraveFace host mask fundraiser for Make-A-Wish Foundation

A B.C. Ambulance Service paramedic wearing a face mask to curb the spread of COVID-19 moves a stretcher outside an ambulance at Royal Columbia Hospital, in New Westminster, B.C., on Sunday, November 29, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Top doctor urges Canadians to limit gatherings as ‘deeply concerning’ outbreaks continue

Canada’s active cases currently stand at 63,835, compared to 53,907 a week prior

A Canadian Pacific freight train travels around Morant’s Curve near Lake Louise, Alta., on Monday, Dec. 1, 2014. A study looking at 646 wildlife deaths along the railway tracks in Banff and Yoho national parks in Alberta and British Columbia has found that train speed is one of the biggest factors. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Frank Gunn
Study finds train speed a top factor in wildlife deaths in Banff, Yoho national parks

Research concludes effective mitigation could address train speed and ability of wildlife to see trains

A airport worker is pictured at Vancouver International Airport in Richmond, B.C. Wednesday, March 18, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Canada extends COVID restrictions for non-U.S. travellers until Jan. 21 amid second wave

This ban is separate from the one restricting non-essential U.S. travel

Menno Place. (Google Street View image.)
B.C. care home looks to hire residents’ family members amid COVID-19-related staff shortage

Family would get paid as temporary workers, while having chance to see loved ones while wearing PPE

A man walks by a COVID-19 test pod at the Vancouver airport in this undated handout photo. A study has launched to investigate the safest and most efficient way to rapidly test for COVID-19 in people taking off from the Vancouver airport. The airport authority says the study that got underway Friday at WestJet’s domestic check-in area is the first of its kind in Canada. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO, Vancouver Airport Authority *MANDATORY CREDIT*
COVID-19 rapid test study launches at Vancouver airport for departing passengers

Airport authority says that a positive rapid test result does not constitute a medical diagnosis for COVID-19

A small crash in the water south of Courtenay Saturday afternoon. Two men had to be rescued, but reports indicate there were no serious injuries. Photo by Mike Chouinard
Small plane crash in Comox Valley waters Saturday afternoon

Two rescued from plane that had flipped in water; no serious injuries reported

A photo from 2017, of Nuchatlaht First Nation members outside court after filing a land title case in B.C. ( Submitted photo/Nuchatlaht First Nation).
Vancouver Island First Nation calls on B.C. to honour UNDRIP in historic title case

Nuchatlaht First Nation says Crown counsel continues to stall the case using the ‘distasteful’ argument that the Nation ‘abandoned’ their land

Most Read