The first words to appear in the editorial columns of The Vancouver Sun, the space the newspaper reserves for its own expression of opinion upon public events, disclosed that its sympathies were Liberal but that the owners’ goal was a publication that would reflect credit upon its publishers, the city and the province.
Their optimism reflected Vancouver’s, for 1912 was an extraordinary year. The city’s population, a scant 27,000 at the turn of the century, had swollen to more than 100,000 on a tsunami of immigrants. The growth had sparked a real estate boom, peaking just as presses began to roll. City lots had typically sold for under $200 a decade earlier, now a lot at the corner of Granville and Robson was priced at $250,000. Conservative Premier Richard McBride was stoking the boiler for his vision of a railway to Prince George and the Pacific Great Eastern Railway was incorporated, already controversial and accompanied by a whiff of scandal that would still be there 100 years later.
In 1912, Vancouver got its first professional hockey when the Millionaires blew out the New Westminster Royals 8-3 at the Patrick brothers’ Denman Arena. And the Vancouver police department became the first in Canada to hire female officers, the second police force in the country to unionize — and lost its first officer in the line of duty when Const. Lewis Byers was shot and killed, his murderer later dying himself in a gun battle with police on the waterfront. The University of British Columbia held its first convocation. The province got its first pulp mill at Powell River and appointed H.R. MacMillan chief forester, two harbingers of changes that would transform the economic landscape. Conservative Premier McBride would call an election and crush his Liberal opposition. The unsinkable Titanic would sink, carrying to the bottom Charles Melville Hays, founder of Prince Rupert and president of Grand Trunk Pacific Railway.
It was an exhilarating time to launch a newspaper.
Congratulations to Vancouver Sun staples like Dean Broughton, Patricia Graham, Kim Bolan, Gillian Shaw, Randy Shore, Francois Marchand, Iain MacIntyre, and more for their work with the paper and for helping it keep pace with the digital age.
Starting tomorrow morning, and until Friday, I will be sharing an article that has been published in the Vancouver Sun over the years. From world wars to class wars, the newspaper’s perspective on civic and international affairs has been a part of local lives for the last century.
An interesting note: BC’s longest-lasting newspaper was New Westminter’s “British Columbian”. Its first issue was published February 13, 1861 and it ran for 122 years, ending in 1983. – Source: Chuck Davis’ History of Metropolitan Vancouver.