Great community journalism: the North Hastings Review, 1971

North Hastings Review

The North Hastings Review issue of June 16, 1971. I don’t know if I’ve ever enjoyed reading a newspaper as much as I enjoyed reading this one.

A wondrous thing arrived in the mailbox here at the Manse the other day. It was a copy of a now-defunct weekly newspaper: the North Hastings Review, issue of June 16, 1971. Its arrival was easily the best thing that’s happened to me so far in 2015.

You’re thinking I’m addled, aren’t you? You’re wondering: How on earth could a 44-year-old copy of a tiny and long-gone newspaper be such a thrill to that Manse woman?

Well, I will tell you. But first let me tell you how this treasure – which I must emphasize is only on loan – came my way. Its sender was Ken Broad, who has been known to read and comment on my posts here at Meanwhile, at the Manse, and who, while he now lives elsewhere, is a native of the Queensborough area, having grown up on a farm just a bit west of here in Madoc Township. (Ken notably sent me a photo of his ticket to the 1971 Rock Acres Peace Festival, an incredible artifact of Queensborough’s version of Woodstock. More on that anon, as it happens, but if you’d like to see that photo, it’s here.)

Anyway, I am pretty sure that the reason Ken had held on to this particular copy of the North Hastings Review – which was published in nearby (to Queensborough, I mean) Madoc, and later became the Madoc Review before it became nothing at all (sometime in the late 1980s or early 1990s, I believe) – was that there was a story about him right there on the front page. He had just sold his fuel-delivery business to Tom Fox of Campbellford – a familiar name in this area – and there is a story about the change in ownership, and a photo of the two men, right there at top left of Page 1.

In a brief note he sent along with the paper, Ken said that his father (a remarkable person whom many people called “The Major” due to his distinguished service in both the First and Second World Wars – but that’s a whole other story, and a great one) used to call the North Hastings Review “the 7-7-7 paper: 7 days to print, 7 cents to buy and 7 seconds to read.” Oh lord – as the former editor of another small-town newspaper, the Port Hope (Ont.) Evening Guide, I am very familiar with readers’ joking comments about how one could throw our modest little daily paper up in the air and read it on the way down. But you know what? Behind the joking, people loved and (more to the point) needed that paper, that daily report on what was going on in their own community. And I am totally certain that The Major and all the other readers of the North Hastings Review also very much appreciated its community reporting, even while they made gentle jokes at its expense.

Anyway, I must tell you that, as I told Ken in my email of thanks to him, it took me a lot longer than seven seconds to read that paper. With the exception of the small print in some of the classified ads, I read every single word. And all of it was an utter joy.

Why? Two reasons.

North Hastings Review front page

This is a front page with a lot of local news. And so many of the names are familiar!

One: this was the local news from what I consider my time. On June 16, 1971, I was about to turn 11 years old. My family had been living at the Manse in Queensborough for seven years, and we would live there for four more. We were deeply embedded in the Queensborough-Madoc-Eldorado-Cooper area, and because my father was the local United Church minister, we had contacts and friendships with many, many families in that area. The people who are mentioned in the pages of this issue of the North Hastings Review are people I knew (and in some cases still know) – everyone from teachers and fellow students at Madoc Township Public School (where I would have just been finishing Grade 6 in June 1971) and Madoc Public School (where the following September I would start Grade 7), to players on the local minor-sports teams whose games are reported, to the ministers of the local churches cited in the long column of notices for church services, to the mother and father of the bride in a delightful report on a wedding that my father had conducted.

North Hastings Review church ads

Some of the church ads (people actually went to church in 1971!) in the North Hastings Review.

And two: This newspaper is great journalism. And no, I am not trying to be funny. The North Hastings Review is chock-full of local news, and providing local news is what local newspapers are supposed to do. When you’d finished reading it, you really knew what was going on in the local area – from who had dined with whom the previous Sunday in Cooper and who had visited whom in Bannockburn; to who was the winning pitcher (as it happens, the late Lorna Matthews, a wonderful person who was the church pianist at St. Andrew’s United Church in Queensborough for many years) when the Cooper women’s softball team defeated the “Madoc Ladies” 24 to 7; to who gave a demonstration on refinishing furniture at a meeting of the senior citizens’ club; to where local school groups had gone for their end-of-year excursions (Sainte-Marie Among the Hurons and the Shrine Circus in Peterborough; the reports, which appeared on the front page, were written by some of the students themselves, and I can only imagine how proud their parents must have been); to what was on sale that week at George West’s Men’s Wear.

North Hastings Review Rock Acres story

The major story of the week: the latest news on the Rock Acres Peace Festival, which had been planned for the Quinlan farm near Queensborough – or “Queensboro,” as the Review spelled it.

You got the big stories – an in-depth report on what at that point looked like the defeat of the plans to hold the aforementioned Rock Acres Peace Festival on the Quinlan farm outside of Queensborough; in fact, the Quinlan family later won the legal battle against the local authorities, the festival went ahead, and you can read all about that here and here and here and here.

North Hastings Review community news

Everything you might have needed to know that week about what was going on in the hamlets of Bannockburn and Gilmour. Good stuff!

And you got the small ones: the aforementioned who-visited-whom listings for the local hamlets, like Bannockburn, Cooper and Gilmour. You got full reports on the doings of three municipal councils; the police news; the meeting of Unit 3 of St. Andrew’s United Church Women; a birth notice (on the front page); and the new officers of the Kiwanis Club. And all of it, I have to tell you, is well-written and well-edited. I think I spotted maybe two typos in the whole affair; that is very impressive, and significantly better than any newspaper (or news website) can boast these days. (Kudos to its publisher, Maurice Goulah, and its editor, Carol Foley, for that.)

North Hastings Review Letters to the Editor

A letter to the editor from Grant Ketcheson, comparing the farming life in Scotland to that in the Madoc area. Good stuff!

But there’s more! There’s a letter to the editor from a young whippersnapper farmer from the Hazzard’s Corners area named Grant Ketcheson (still a great friend to this day), who was visiting Scotland on an agricultural scholarship and sent a lively report on farming practices (and weather) there as compared to the Madoc area. There’s the report on that wedding conducted by my father, complete with the extraordinarily detailed description of the wedding dress that those reports always had: “The bride was lovely in a full length taffeta gown highlighted with a dainty lace trim around the scoop neckline, down the full-length sleeves and around the full skirt. The bodice and sleeves also featured rose appliques and her long full train with matching lace trim was attached at the waist with a large bow. The three-tiered bouffant veil was gathered to a circle of dainty white orange blossoms and seed pearls, leaving the centre open for flocks of curls. She carried a cascade bouquet of yellow daisies.” (And if you want to know what the mother of the bride and the mother of the groom wore at the reception, you’ll just have to get you hands on your own copy of the paper.) There’s a column by Bill Smiley, who was omnipresent in small Canadian weekly newspapers back in those days. It was delightful to see the late Mr. Smiley’s byline again after all these years.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

And there are the ads for businesses that bring back such good memories: George West’s, as I mentioned; Wilson’s (which only recently closed down after many years in business; I wrote about that here); Johnston’s Pharmacy (still going after all these years; that too is reported on in this post); the long-gone and much-missed Plaza cinema in Marmora (I saw my very first movie there!); and (ta-da!) the Cash & Carry! Which was having a sale that week on wood panelling. I’d almost be willing to bet my bottom dollar that the wood panelling that got put up in the Manse kitchen during my family’s tenure here – about which we were so excited at the time, because wood panelling was so fashionable; and which Raymond and I are now very keen to get rid of, because, let’s face it, it’s awful – might have come from that very sale at the Cash & Carry down there on St. Lawrence Street East in downtown Madoc.

It is community journalism at its very best.

I know that Ken Broad knew I would appreciate having a chance to go through that paper, but I bet he didn’t guess just how much I’d appreciate it. Such wonderful, wonderful memories, all thanks to a terrific community newspaper. And a person who had the excellent good sense to preserve it – and the kindness to share it.

23 thoughts on “Great community journalism: the North Hastings Review, 1971

  1. I started with the OPP in 1972, so when this newspaper edition was printed, we still worked at Imperial Life?

    Sent from my iPad


  2. Your blog brings to mind communication in 1971. I called gayle early in march when i arrived in the UK. I called an overseas operator on Sunday morning, she said she would call back “when an overseas line was available”. One hour later she called and said. “we are ready on your call to Canada.” We kept our call to the magic three minutes and i paid something like $15 to my host family for that call!. (Farm workers were working for about that amount per day in Britain at that time.)

    • Wow, that brought back memories for me too – of the one or two long-ago times when I called overseas and had to wait for a callback when the overseas line was available. Amazing! And amazing too to think of how expensive that call was. Where was Skype when you needed it?

  3. Katherine — I really enjoyed this post about the North Hastings Review. Ancient pages of the paper turned out to be the biggest single source when I set about digging up stories of my family in Madoc’s old days. Spent hours in the Madoc library scrolling through microfilm of the paper’s early editions. I believe there was a note attached to the microfilm saying that creating it was the work of a history class at the Madoc high school. Three cheers for that!

    • Absolutely, Keith! And while I love handling the actual paper (though with very great care), I realize that microfilmed and/or digitized copies are the way to really see a lot of old issues without much trouble. If they have copies of the North Hastings Review and Madoc Review from the 1960s and ’70s at the library, I could easily see myself getting completely lost in them!

      • Keith and Katherine – I recently discovered that the later copies of the Madoc Review have also been put on microfilm, and are available in the Madoc Public Library. One issue you may want to look at is from April 6, 1977 – it was a special to mark the 100th anniversary of the weekly paper in the Madoc area. Lots of historical features, plus “then and now” pictures of the village. We had a great time putting it together!

  4. In the late 1970’s I had the privilege of being the editor of the Madoc Review (successor to North Hastings Review) and Marmora Herald. I got to know some of the people, such as Maurice Goulah, mentioned in your blog. Almost 40 years later I still have such fond memories of Madoc, Queensborough and the whole Centre Hastings area. Best wishes.

    • So wonderful to hear from you, Vincent! As a fellow veteran of small-town-newspaper editing, I have a pretty good idea of what long hours you must have worked as editor of the Review and Herald – but also of how much fun you must have had. I don’t think there’s a better job (okay, the pay is terrible, but aside from that) than working at a small newspaper when that newspaper is an important part of its community. Glad you found my post and stopped by Meanwhile, at the Manse!

  5. I have just come upon this article and am very curious, as I am doing some research about a fire that happened here (cloyne) in 1895. I have a photocopy of the article that was written in a Newspaper, and in handwriting there is a note “North Hastings” Do you think that the North Hasting Review existed in 1895?

    • The North Hastings Review was set up by Col. John Orr and his brother in 1877. They sold it to A.H. Watson in 1912, and his family held it until 1971 when it was bought by Maurice Goulah who changed the name in 1972 to the Madoc Review. In 1974, Mr. Goulah sold it to Don Mullan, and he in turn sold it to Joe Cembal in 1975. When I worked for the Madoc Review in 1977 we put out a 100-year retrospective on the paper; one of the highlights of my brief career as the paper’s editor.

    • Carolyn, I see that Vincent has answered before I could – all I was going to say in answer to your question was “Yes,” but he’s provided lots more information about the North Hastings, later Madoc, Review. For which I thank him!

  6. Keith Kincaid is correct, although I’m not sure if they have all of the older papers. Last year I was able to access the 1977 issues, but without finding the 100-year anniversary issue. The library staff (very helpful) mentioned that none of the old papers has been digitized for access through the internet.

      • Just a follow-up to the above note: recently I visited the Madoc Library, and am happy to report that they have a copy of the 100-year anniversary retrospective of the Madoc / North Hastings Review. It’s in one of the vertical file boxes, quite near the microfiche cabinet.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s