History told on the fly

For 100 years, the News Review has been a focal point for the Saanich Peninsula community

Sidney Museum and Archives manager Brad Morrison

Sidney Museum and Archives manager Brad Morrison

Whether it was to read local gossip, or find details of more serious matters, such as who was going to war or coming home, Saanich Peninsula residents have looked to the Peninsula News Review in all its forms for information over the past 100 years.

The newspaper, which published its first edition on Dec. 13, 1912 as the Sidney and Islands Review, has been a consistent source of local news and entertainment over the decades, says Sidney Museum and Archives manager Brad Morrison.

He has, on many occasions, gleaned information for research projects on the Peninsula from the pages of the Review.

“To learn the history of this area, it’s categorical – you need the Review,” he says.

He likens the goings-on in early 20th-century Sidney, for example, to the scenario featured in the period movie about the same era, The Music Man, starring Robert Preston and Shirley Jones.

Sidney was like “River City,” he says, a place where the local pool hall was a gathering point for town merchants to catch up on the news and gossip of the day. And the Review played a part in spreading that news.

The paper was a community focal point, he adds. With no TV or radio available early on, that was their communication and their entertainment, outside of playing cards, going to dances or watching silent movies.

“This filled in the void of what the (Daily) Colonist and (Victoria) Times were not reporting about the area,” Morrison says. “Often the Review’s stories were subsequently reported in the dailies.”

Early on, writers used subtle humour to get their message across, especially in columns detailing residents’ comings and goings.

A sense of that humour was in full view in the very first issue, under the heading “Editorial Announcement.”

“The Review is a little thing at present,” it said. “But remembering it is yet scarcely out of its swaddling clothes, it will grow bigger and better, let us hope.

It goes on to say, “We might mention our newness to the town as an excuse for the meagre news columns of the paper … We might say that the Intelligent Compositor was standing on his ivory dome when he committed some of the typographical atrocities. Or we might say that the proof reader and his satanic majesty were conniving at our downfall. But we have nothing to say. We ask our readers to accept this poor effort in the spirit it is meant. Bear with us till we get at least a tail hold on the situation, and see if we don’t do better.”

For readers who receive home delivery, your newspaper today (Sept. 19) includes a special magazine, The Review: Stories that shaped the last century 1912-2012. It’s a cross-section of items that made the news through the decades, from community reports and political goings-on, to wartime drama affecting families in the region.

We hope you enjoy thumbing through the pages and glimpsing the Peninsula’s past through the lens of Review writers past and present.

Heritage Party benefits Tour de Rock

On Saturday (Sept. 22) the News Review celebrates its 100th birthday with a community party at Heritage Acres. The event, running from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., includes musical entertainment from bands The Archers, Chick Wagon and Fir Cone, as well as a kids’ obstacle course and other activities organized by Panorama Recreation Centre.

A barbecue and refreshments provided by Peninsula Co-op, and pie and ice cream supplied by Fairway Market, will be available by donation to Cops for Cancer Tour de Rock. Co-op staffers will also be raising money for Tour de Rock with head shaves done during the breaks between bands.

Flader, Hale, Hughesman chartered accountants and Beacon Law co-sponsored the Heritage Acres fees for the day to enable the Review to donate 100 per cent of the proceeds.