Via the Northwest History blog, I recently found that Google has been quietly archiving a large number of historical newspapers, including many defunct ones from the west. Old newspapers are a rich source of social history and can fill in some details of everyday life in the early historical period. For example, it still costs me about 2 & 1/2 cents per pound to get my sorry self from Victoria to Leech River. Or, see the table below from 1864 recounting the travel time and cost by stage or foot from New Westminster to the Columbia River. That’s better history than some dumb vote of useless politicians.
As Larry Cebula at Northwest History points out, Google has buried this feature somewhat. There is a master list of all newspapers here, though, and you can work your way through that. Many of the newspaper names are cryptic, though, and since I usually do the grunt work for you, here are some of the historic, often defunct, newspapers of particular interest to readers of this blog:
- The British Columbian (lots from 1861-1869
- The Daily British Columbian (1869; some OCR errors put issues in 1800)
- The Vancouver (BC) Daily Post (various issues available from 1864 to 1865)
- The Vancouver (BC) Times (various issues available from 1864 to 1866)
- The Pictorial Times – a Canadian Illustrated Newspaper (ca. 1887)
- The Spokane Daily Chronicle (lots 1880s to 1980s)
- Spokane Falls Weekly Review 1891 (and its Wheel of Progress!) (there’s lots of Spokane papers, for some reason)
- The [Victoria] Daily British Colonist (various 1860s and 1970s) (these are also online via here in more complete fashion, but the google interface is better – browsable)
- The [Victoria] Daily British Colonist and Victoria Chronicle (various 1868 to 1871 – apparently a different selection than above)
- The Yellowstone (Montana) Journal (intermittent issues around 1891 to 1899)
- The Yukon Sun (2 issues from 1899)
- The Yukon World (various issues 1904-1905)
The way to search these newspapers is via “Advanced Search“, entering the name of the newspaper in the “source” box (or just a key word – “vancouver” or “colonist” both work. After the first search, there will be an obvious search box displayed along with the results, and you can just change your search term in that box. Much easier. You can make a selection to show papers by month, year, decade, etc. Decade is good to show if there are big gaps in the digitized series. I searched some newspapers for terms like “Indian” and “antiquities” and “cairns” with mixed success.If more recent history is your thing, then the 1959 to 1980+ issues of Vancouver Island’s Ladysmith-Chemainus Chronicle may be of interest. And, there is a huge diversity and range of small francophone newspapers on the browsable list as well, disproportionately so.
Anyway, this is a ginormous time suck, so beware of that.