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Newspapers marched west to Macleod

The Kennefick Livery Stable has been the Main Street, Fort Macleod home of The Macleod Gazette since 1925.

Since 1882, Fort Macleod has never been without a local newspaper. In fact, during that period, there were times when two, or even three, newspapers struggling for the attention of its residents. The first of these was The Macleod Gazette, established July 1, 1882.

Only eight years after Colonel Macleod and his cavalcade of 150 North West Mounted Police ended their trek west and established Fort Macleod on a small island in the Old Man’s River in 1874, a newspaper was founded by C.E.D. Wood and E.T. Saunders, two ex-mounted policemen. It was the third newspaper to be published in the Territories, proceeded by the Battleford Herald and Edmonton Bulletin. The Bulletin later closed its doors and in 1905 the Battleford Herald became a part of Saskatchewan, leaving the Gazette as being Alberta’s oldest continuously published newspaper.

C.E.D. Wood was the Gazette’s primary publisher during its fledgling years but others did attempt the task. Clarke Bros. Publishers took over for a time, but in 1894 Wood returned. The paper was then leased to Z.M. Hamilton but again Wood returned. He left again when he was called to the bar of the North West Territories. George Scheer took over ownership and control as of June 30, 1903, replaced by George Grow in 1905. A year later Grow was succeeded by C.F. Harris who was followed by H.S. French under whom the Gazette name temporarily disappeared from the masthead in 1907.

The newspaper business flourished in the new town of Macleod and during its first 50 years there were 10 different names for residents to look for on the newsstands. Three opposition papers to the Gazette sprang up during the 1890s, two of which left almost as quickly as they appeared. The third, The Advance, survived several years and later became the Gazette’s successor. The Advance first appeared in 1899 and its editor was former Gazette publisher Tom Clark. It survived until 1908 when the name was altered and the paper became known as the Advance and Southern Alberta Advertiser.

A rival paper, the Chronicle, came into existence in 1908, published by R.W. Livingston but there was not enough room for both papers and in 1909, with John E. Pember in charge, the Macleod Advertiser became the only paper in Fort Macleod. It enjoyed this distinction until 1912. September, 1913, the Advertiser was bought out by its competitor, the Macleod Spectator. L.S. Gowe was its editor and manager. Herbert Dennis took over as editor May 20, 1915, replaced in December of that year by Charles Underwood.

The Spectator reigned until 1916 when it was sold to D.J. Grier and the name was changed. This time the masthead read The Macleod News which was lengthened to the Macleod Weekly News. At the same time, J.H. Campbell was hired as editor and Underwood moved to position of manager.

March 1920 saw the arrival of The Macleod Times, published by Dillingham and Day. Within one month the Times had amalgamated with the News and Fort Macleod’s latest newspaper became known as The Macleod Times and Macleod Weekly News. The Times remained until the 1930s when Ralph C. Jessup assumed control and on January 8, 1931 the Gazette name was revived and has topped the front page of the newspaper since.

The Macleod Gazette was controlled by the Jessup family for 44 years with Mr. Jessup holding the position of editor until he joined the armed forces in 1940. The business was then leased to H.T. Halliwell who assumed the role of editor and manager until July 1961. Upon his retirement, Jim McKay joined his sister-in-law Anna Jessup, Ralph Jessup’s widow, in the newspaper business as secretary-treasurer.

Allan Davis and Cliff Moses, two long time Gazette employees, split Mr. Halliwell’s duties filling the positions of manager and editor respectively. Mr. Davis left the Gazette in 1968 and the managerial position was filled by Jack Murphy who, along with Mr. Moses, eventually took over the business.

June 30, 1975, the Jessup family retired from the newspaper business and a partnership of Moses and Murphy took over ownership. During that partnership, the Gazette flourished and underwent two major overhauls in its production department as it kept pace with technological changes sweeping through the newspaper industry.

October 10, 1991 was a sad day for newspapering, when Cliff Moses, the steadying force behind The Macleod Gazette for close to 50 years, passed away at the age of 73. He learned the intricacies of the weekly newspaper business from the ground up, beginning with the Gazette in 1938 at the age of 19, as a printer’s devil. He was honoured with a Silver Quill award by The Canadian Community Newspapers Association in 1988. Another highlight of his long career in weekly newspapers was the Gazette’s award sweep in the 1987 CCNA National Better Newspapers Competition.

Through a transfer, in 1989, of his shares in the Gazette, the Moses family connection continued as his daughter, Allison, took over and the partnership arrangement with Murphy carried on. The title of publisher was retained by Cliff Moses until his passing.

July 1st, 1995, Jack Murphy brought the shares of Allison Falkenberg and became sole owner of the paper, taking on the dual role of editor and publisher. Like his former business partner, Cliff Moses, Murphy started working for the Gazette right out of high school at the age of 19.

In September 2001 Murphy sold the paper to Frank and Emily McTighe, extending its legacy as an independently owned and operated newspaper.

Frank McTighe came to The Gazette with more than two decades of community newspaper experience. After studying Journalism Arts at the Southern Alberta Institute of Technology in Calgary, and working two years in the composing room at the Calgary Herald, McTighe landed his first reporting job at The Taber Times in 1982. He later worked as editor of The Vauxhall Advance and Coaldale Sunny South News before joining the staff of the High River Times, eventually becoming editor of that paper.

In October 1989 McTighe and his wife Emily bought The Nanton News and owned and operated that paper until 1995 when they sold to WestMount Press. Frank McTighe continued to work for the new company, which was later sold to Bowes Publishers, until 2001, when he became an instructor in the Journalism Arts program at the Southern Alberta Institute of Technology.

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