The Tweed News, and the joys of an old-fashioned stationery store

The offices of the Tweed News on the main street of Tweed, Ont. The building serves not only as the newspaper offices but as a first-rate stationery store – the equivalent for me of a candy store.

The offices of the Tweed News on the main street of Tweed, Ont. The building serves not only as the newspaper offices but as a stationery store – the equivalent for me of a candy store.

Yesterday I wrote about how much I enjoy catching up on all the local news from Hastings and eastern Northumberland counties via the local weekly newspapers that we get in Queensborough. In a comment in response, our almost-neighbour Pauline made the very good point that one of those papers, the Tweed News, is one of a great (and, sadly, disappearing) breed: an independent newspaper. While the free weeklies are owned by big corporations – the Community Press is part of the Québecor empire and the EMC is a Torstar production via its Metroland division (as another reader, Gordon, pointed out in his own comment) – the Tweed News continues, as it has for a very long time, as a local family-run operation. You don’t find many of those any more, and when you do it is something to celebrate.

I suspect that one key reason why the Tweed News – which, unlike the EMC and the Community Press, is a newspaper you have to pay for – is able to keep going is that, in addition to the newspaper business, it’s also in the stationery business. Its office on the main street of Tweed has the newspaper’s tiny newsroom in the back, but in the front is a retail area, with shelves of books and cards and pens and file folders and coin rollers and pencils and pencil sharpeners and notepads and… perhaps from this you can tell that I adore stationery stores. They’re like candy stores to me. I always end up buying stationery supplies that I will never need, like pads for waitresses to write down restaurant orders, and receipt books and whatnot. So this stationery operation is yet another reason for me to love the Tweed News.

Well, that and the fact that when you go to pay for your big pile of stationery products, more than half of which (if you’re me) you don’t actually need, the person who greets you and gives you your change is none other than Rodger Hanna, publisher and editor of the Tweed News. It’s a real thrill!

In honour of my dad: a fresh package of carbon paper, on his old desk in the study of the Manse. Purchased at the Tweed News.

In honour of my dad: a fresh package of carbon paper, on his old (and well-worn) desk in the study of the Manse. Purchased at the Tweed News.

One wonderful thing I found in the store on a recent visit was a package of carbon paper. Carbon paper! Good lord – I couldn’t believe it still existed in this age of photocopiers and home printers. But exist it does, and so of course I bought it. And brought it back to the Manse to the old desk at which my dad used to work. Dad always used carbon paper to make copies of the letters he would type, and maybe his sermons and orders of service too. Sometimes he would make multiple copies with multiple sheets of carbon paper. Very cutting-edge technology at the time.

All of a sudden I’m hearing a silent thought from all readers below the age of 50: What the deuce is carbon paper?

Ask your parents. Or, if you’re younger than 30, maybe your grandparents.

Postscript: My thanks to my friend Lindi Piece (who does two splendid blogs, Ancestral Roofs and In Search of Al Purdy), who reminded me that there was an excellent article about the Tweed News in a recent issue of the very fine Hastings County magazine Country Roads. You can read the article here. (And while you’re on the Country Roads site, check out the beautiful cover photo on the most recent issue by our friend Len Holmes, of the Hazzard’s Corners area – scroll down to the bottom of the screen here to see it.) Also, I should have mentioned that the Tweed News was co-winner (with the Old Hastings Mercantile, a store and gallery in Ormsby that I am extremely eager to visit) of the 2012 Tourism Business of the Year Award at the Hastings County/Comfort Country tourism awards ceremony last fall. Congratulations to publisher and editor in chief Rodger Hanna and company!

8 thoughts on “The Tweed News, and the joys of an old-fashioned stationery store

  1. Carbon paper…conjures up prim efficient secretaries in 1950’s movies, briskly tapping sheets of paper interlaced with carbon paper into alignment and inserting them into smart-looking typewriters! Oh the independent woman’s city life, only to be dreamed of! By the way, did you see the great article on the Tweed News in the Fall 2012 issue of Country Roads magazine? I think back issues are online. If not, I have an extra copy or two.

  2. yes, the Tweed News is a great asset to the community, one I think goes often unappreciated. With respect to stationary supplies, they are cost-competive with the ‘big box’ stores, which i am not sure is well known. Definitely more convenient, and who wouldn’t support an independent local business over a mega-corporation?

  3. Love this story, Katherine, especially because I came across a brand new package of carbon paper while cleaning out an odd closet here a few weeks ago. After I “shivered” at the thought of how many times I had to use that early in my career at the University, (yes, I was hired as a Junior Clerk and Stenographer back in ’71), I just held it in my hands and thought “what the heck am I going to do with this”? As the purpose of my cleaning the closet was to rid myself of things I’ve hoarded over the years, it landed in the trash pile. It wasn’t easy to do so, though. It took Bob asking me if I was ever going to use it again (heck, no!) and then giving me permission, before I was able to part with it. It’s not easy for semi-hoarders like me to part with anything, especially something new and unused. Had I known your fondness for it, I could have passed it along to you!

    • Isn’t it funny to remember actually using carbon paper, Jeannie? Though not so funny as all that – what a pain it was when one made a typing mistake that would show up on multiple copies. But listen, if you ever start missing the carbon paper that you’ve just thrown out, you (and Bob) have but to visit the Manse! If my dad’s old Underwood ends up there, I can even re-create the typing-with-carbon-paper experience!

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