Although Canada’s first newspaper, the Halifax Gazette, was founded in 1752, newspapers did not arrive in Saskatchewan until the mid-19th century after decades of evolution elsewhere. The Nor’Wester, the first newspaper in western Canada, began publication at Red River in 1860. The first newspaper in Saskatchewan (then the North-West Territories) was the Saskatchewan Herald, first published at Battleford in August 1878. Patrick Gammie Laurie, who previously worked for The Nor’Wester, was that newspaper’s founder and editor. The Saskatchewan Herald predated any railway in Saskatchewan, and consequently Laurie transported his first printing press by ox cart on a 72-day trek from Fort Garry. In 1885, however, the railway arrived and other newspapers started up in the province: the Prince Albert Times and Saskatchewan Review, the Regina Leader, the Moose Jaw News, the Moosomin Courier, the Fort Qu’Appelle Progress, and the Qu’Appelle Vidette. When Saskatchewan became a province in 1905, it had fifty-two different newspapers in print.

For the first decades, newspapers had a near-monopoly on advertising and news dissemination in their communities. Consequently, there was a vast variety of published material in each edition. Not all of Saskatchewan’s early newspapers, however, were traditional city-focused publications. In 1912 the Students’ Representative Council of the University of Saskatchewan founded The Sheaf, which was dedicated to university news. One of Saskatchewan’ largest weekly newspapers, the Western Producer, started in 1918 under the name of Turner’s Weekly and concentrated on agriculture and farming issues. Other special-interest newspapers included the Prairie Messenger, the Canadian Magyar Farmer, and the Banish the Bar Crusader. From the earliest settlement days to the present, small-town newspapers have flourished and found an eager readership across the province. In 1919, these solitary newspapers formed the Saskatchewan Weekly Newspaper Association, which now comprises eighty-five members.

Saskatchewan newspapers, like all others, have adapted to technological changes. For example, linotype slowly replaced letterpress printing in the decades after 1886; offset printing was embraced across the industry after 1950; and since about 1990, digital pagination has replaced cut-and-paste boards. In recent years, most small-town newspapers farm out their printing to facilities in larger centres. The speed and ease of the Internet and computer software usually bring about a quicker, cheaper, and sharper newspaper product. During the Great Depression, the media monopoly of newspapers was assailed by radio, forcing the industry to consolidate. In 1928, the Saskatoon Phoenix merged with the Saskatoon Daily Star to become the Saskatoon StarPhoenix. In 1930, the Regina Morning Leader and Daily Post merged to become the Leader-Post. In 1935, the Moose Jaw Times Morning Herald merged with the Evening Herald to become the Moose Jaw Times-Herald. As well, many newspapers such as the Loreburn Herald, the Dundurn Enterprise, and the Alsask News had ceased operation by 1929. Television in 1950 and the Internet in 1990 challenged newspapers both for the public’s news attention and for advertising revenue. Commencing in 1980, local ownership of Saskatchewan’s daily newspapers disappeared as the Leader-Post, StarPhoenix, and others were acquired by national media chains such as Thomson Newspapers, Hollinger and, more recently, CanWest Global. During 2000, national media chains such as Transcontinental and Glacier Ventures International also began purchasing small-town weeklies.

Gerald Heinrichs

Further Reading

Kesterton, W.H. 1984. A History of Journalism in Canada. Ottawa: Carleton University Press.

MacDonald, Christine. 1984. Historical Directory of Saskatchewan Newspapers, 1878-1983. Regina: Saskatchewan Archives Board.