Edwardian Fernie was perusing the January 18, 1908 edition of the The District Ledger and was suddenly struck by how in some ways The District Ledger, and one dare say The Fernie Free Press and other small-town newspapers of the day were like social media in a way that modern newspapers are not.
Many editions of small town newspapers included sections like the following extract from the District Ledger under the title:
“News of the City”
“Nurse Daly returned from Waldo on Monday.
The air compressor is being installed at Coal Creek.
W.G. Ross paid a business trip to Coleman on Monday.
D.F. Hughes of Crow’s Nest visited the city this week.
Owen Ross made a trip to Calgary on Sunday on business.
J. Bates of Cranbrook was here on Monday and Tuesday last.
L.P. Eckstein was up to Cranbrook on Tuesday on a business trip.
Mr. Naismith, the inspector of the Home Bank, was here on Tuesday.
H. McMillan of Calgary, well known here is registered at the Napanee.
R. W. Woods is getting along nicely and was able to sit upon Thursday.
T. Labelle, of Pincher was visiting around the city on Thursday and Friday.
The sheriff’s sale advertised for last Tuesday has been postponed till January 24th.
Mrs. “Paddy” Hughes is reported very sick at present. We hope to see her around town.
H. Frechette left for Ottawa on Tuesday. Mr. Frechette was with the Coal Co., here.
W. Tuttle is under the weather these days, but will be around soon now we trust.
John Harrington left last night to attend the International Convention as a representative of the Gladstone Local.
See Liphardt about that watch he has them at any price $1.00, $2.50, $2.75, $5.00, $6.50 and up.
A carpenter named Snow was injured by a fall from one of the arches of the new rink on Wednesday.
W. Symonds was in Coleman on Tuesday, in connection with the Socialist Party of Canada Local No. 17 here.
Note the increased advertising we have this week, especially the page of Trites Wood Co, on page three.
The dog races last Saturday resulted as follows: David Anderson 1st. Percy McDougall, 2nd. Albert Dickens 3rd.
A.C. Liphardt has a very find selection of loose diamonds which he can mount in his own workshop. His prices are right. “
This is but an example of one column in the Ledger dedicated to the goings on of the town that were very much the equivalent of what one might call social media news. Not really news at all but still the doings of the town. Mostly these columns reported the activity of the more well-known people of the town. In the example above several notable people stand out.
R.W. Woods is almost certainly the partner of A.B. Trites in the Trites-Wood Co. Ltd. and together with Trites will go on to become very wealthy as a retailer, wholesaler and investor in several mines in British Columbia and Washington State. His home in that part of Fernie known as the Park is one of the stately residences that still stand and reflect the wealth of the early magnates of Fernie.
T. Labelle, is quite possibly a misspelling of the name Timothee Lebel a prominent merchant of Pincher Creek who is still remembered in that city for building the Lebel Mansion which is now a centre for arts and culture in Pincher Creek.
W. Tuttle likely refers to Mayor Tuttle who had just been acclaimed to office in an acclimation of the entire City Council reported in this same edition of the District Ledger. Although Mayor Tuttle may have been feeling a little unwell, one can only presume he was very happy to have been acclaimed thereby saving the expense and effort required to run in an election.
Clearly not only the high and mighty were chronicled in the Ledger, and so there is notice of the injury of a man by the name of Snow, who was working on the skating rink. Given Fernie’s current ice rink tragedy and the issues arising therefrom this is a particularly interesting entry and Edwardian Fernie will look for more information about the ice rink under construction in 1908.
Edwardian Fernie notes that the travels of a number of labour leaders were also listed. This should come as no surprise as the District Ledger was the voice of the miner and official chronicle of the United Mine Workers of America in the Valley. It was also a competitor to the Fernie Free Press, which although an independent publication, was clearly a voice for the mining company and the mercantile elite of the community.
Another aspect of the Ledger that reminds of social media is the clever placing of advertisement in the column noting the “News of the City”. The ads read like a part of the main text, there is nothing to distinguish them from the rest of the little news bullets. Thus, the reader of the news was unlikely to filter out the ads, very much a ploy seen in some social media today.
No doubt these postings excited as much a feeling of FOMO (feeling of missing out) as do social media posts today, but perhaps the greater FOMO was occasioned on the part of those aspiring to see their names in the paper denied that prestige by the editor. For in this aspect the “news of the city” were very different from social media – the content was curated by the editor – were it but so today!