It is with pride The Drumheller Mail is marking its centennial in 2011. For 100 years, The Drumheller Mail has been bringing area readers their news. The look has changed, the style has changed, and even the format has changed. What has remained constant is the dedication to the craft of journalism, the value The Mail puts on community news, dedication to the growth and prosperity of the community, and acting as the paper of record.The paper today has its roots about 10 miles north of Drumheller in the Village of Munson. While the exact date is unclear, in 1911 Homer Moore set up a newspaper and was soon thereafter joined by Grover Cleveland Duncan, a Kansas City man who cut his teeth in the newspaper business in Sherwood, North Dakota, and the Edmonton Journal as one of the advertising staff. He then worked under MLA Frank Whiteside, who founded the Castor Advance and the Coronation Review. The two became partners and began publishing The Munson Mail.
The Munson Mail was typical of turn of the century papers; one side was printed in Winnipeg with general articles, while the blank side would be printed on site with local news. In 1914, Duncan bought out his partner, edited, and managed the paper until April of 1918 when he moved the operation to Drumheller and amalgamated with the printing job plant of E.C. Payne.
As the community grew, so did the paper, and it was under Duncan that prominent editor Archibald F. Key came on in 1927. By then the paper was publishing 10 pages per week. It was a time of turbulence. There were 12 operating mines when Kay arrived, and by 1931, there were 31. There were labour issues and when the stock market crash of 1929 happened the change was dramatic. As Key describes in the Hills of Home, “The metamorphosis from affluence to poverty was rapid and thorough.”
It was also during this time, Key took a stand against the spread of the Ku Klux Klan on the pages of The Mail. The controversy soon died down. While Key had originally signed on for a six month contract, it was not until after World War II, that he left the valley. He went on to dedicate his professional career to the arts and museums, and was awarded the Order of Canada.
In 1947, Duncan sold the paper to Hap and John Clarke.
In July 1954, three Drumheller businessmen, Osborne Sheddy, John Anderson and Sam Robb purchased the paper. By 1972, after reinvesting into the company, Sheddy became the sole owner.
The paper has been on the cutting edge of industry technology throughout its history, from its composition to its printing. It was one of the first papers in Alberta to adopt digital technology. The paper has seen 15 other publications in the Drumheller Valley come and go over the century, but The Mail has been consistent in delivering the news in a trustworthy fashion.
The Mail has been dependably reporting developments in the community; from floods, to amalgamation, the founding of the Royal Tyrrell Museum and the Drumheller Institution. It also strives to represent a vast market area and the surrounding communities with the help of dedicated correspondents.
The Mail’s reportage has been recognized provincially and nationally. Most recently for its coverage of the Relay For Life by the Canadian Cancer Society, and by the Canadian Community Newspaper Association for its service to the community promoting the campaign to establish the Badlands Community Facility. This year Ossie Sheddy is serving his second term as president of the Alberta Weekly Newspaper Association.
Today, The Drumheller Mail continues to publish every Wednesday, plus offers the locally focused publication inSide Drumheller on Fridays.
In 1999, it launched the online edition at drumhellermail.com. This has flourished, and according to the website ranking company Alexa.com, drumhellermail.com may be the highest ranked Drumheller website, and is seventh among Alberta newspapers, only beaten out by urban publications.
The Sheddy family continues to operate the newspaper with pride and is looking forward to celebrating the paper’s centennial through its pages and in the community. Keep reading for more details over the coming year in The Drumheller Mail or online at drumhellermail.com.