We can only assume it was a cold winter’s day back on December 28, 1830 when the first edition of the Hallowell Free Press hit the streets of the two villages- Picton proper and Hallowell Bridge (which was the area south of Picton Bay)- that make up our town.
The daily meteorological state of this community is the kind of detail that’s tough to nail down when your legacy predates the Environment Canada’s Historical Climate Data by a decade.
What we might safely presume is the state of mind of Hallowell Free Press editor Joseph Wilson as he put the finishing touches on the inaugural edition of the first newspaper to spring up between Kingston and Toronto.
Surely adrenaline and excitement coursed through his viens as his efforts were circulated amongst those who could and would read the written words in that very first edition and this corner can admit to those feelings every Thursday morning when the latest edition of the seed planted by Wilson 190 years ago shows up from the printing press.
It goes without saying much has changed for this paper, our community and the world since the term ‘Upper Canada’ was used in the masthead of this outlet.
But what hasn’t changed in nearly two centuries of continued publication of the Picton Gazette is the dedication to informing, enlightening and entertaining readers in Prince Edward County and beyond.
I can only speak from personal experiences but this newspaper has always been a part of my life and anyone that’s spent a substantial amount of time in Prince Edward County would almost certainly have to say likewise. At the farm house I grew up in, the Picton Gazette and the Toronto Star were as close to required reading as an elementary student could have. Not that I ever viewed reading newspapers as such.
Local and national news was consumed at the kitchen table over breakfast in equal portions, and, if you looked close enough in either edition of that week’s Gazette, you might just see a picture of someone you knew.
Or, at the very least, find your family get togethers chronicled in the always well-read social news. This is part where we tip our caps to the likes of the late Rose Simpson and Betty Matthie, two of the last social news contributors who added so much life to the Gazette pages of the past.
The responsibility of carrying on Canada’s Oldest Community Newspaper is one that carries a significant amount of weight with anyone employed here. A reporter or staff member doesn’t have to look too hard to see faces of the past- such luminaries with last names like Conger, Calnan and Morrison- peering back from the pages and stirring inspiration to stay true to the mission of community journalism and the service of Prince Edward County, its businesses and her residents.
While your correspondent might initially had aspirations to be Rodney Radio as opposed to Ned Newspaper as a young Athol Township lad, I can say without question fates have aligned to put your humble scribe in the right place at the right time.
I offer this unfailing submission this 190 year old institution will continue to be a firmly woven part of the unique fabric of Prince Edward County and serve its fine readers ad infinitum.