We’re 135 this week!

North’s oldest paper, keeper of Island history

MANITOULIN—The Manitoulin Expositor has always been keenly aware of its role serving as the paper of record for the Island and its residents, chronicling events of importance to Manitoulin that were triumphant or tragic, large or small, for the past 135 years. That role as paper of record has been an even greater source of pride for the entire Expositor team than trying to find an empty spot on our office glory wall for our latest award plaque.

An outstanding example of the role The Expositor serves for the Manitoulin community can be found amongst the pages of Alexander McGillivray’s new book ‘The Little Current Story.’ Mr. McGillivray wrote a column for The Expositor that delved into the history of Little Current, since before its incorporation up to the millennium, taking readers on a journey into their past over the eight years the column appeared in the paper.

“I think I can safely say I have read every Expositor possible from the 1800s on,” laughed Mr. McGillivray, who explained that he had used the paper’s voluminous archives as a source for many of his columns. The column began as a tribute for the celebration of Little Current’s centennial, but it soon expanded well past that marker.

“At first I didn’t intend to do past the 1990s,” said Mr. McGillivray. But the amount of material and popularity of the column provided plenty of motivation to go forward. “I got a lot of the material from the paper on microfilm.” The paper is available on microfilm at the Northeast Town Public Library.

The paper once reported routinely on matters that would seem very strange intrusions to the public today.

“At one time the paper used to list all of the people who were in the hospital,” Mr. McGillivray noted. “That went on well into the 1930s and ‘40s and all of the students’ exam results were in the paper,” he laughed. “So your scholastic record was an open book.”

While it is true that the paper rarely focussed on events taking place within the First Nation communities, particularly during the pre-Second World War years stretching back to the paper’s inception, there were notable exceptions through the years. “There was even a time when there was a little column written in the Native language,” said Mr. McGillivray. “That was sometime in the last 40 years or so. It did not last too long.” These days, the paper makes every effort to record the signature events of all of the Island’s communities, although individual students are probably relieved we no longer pry into their report cards so closely, although graduations and award nights are still very much a part of our calendar of important events.

Mr. McGillivray’s book, a massive tome running to several hundred pages, may chronicle the events and people of primarily of one Island community, but the source from which his material was gleaned contains many thousands of pages of births, deaths and lifelong achievements of most of the Island’s residents.

While the doings of our blessed Isle may at times seem mundane or parochial, a glance at the destination of many of the articles downloaded from our website, manitoulin.ca, is proof of how far interest in Manitoulin actually reaches.

Internet protocol addresses tracing back to Queen’s Park, Parliament Hill, the White House and even the Pentagon have been spotted by our award winning web designer and production manager Dave Patterson—sometimes it seems the world is watching—and a number of the editorials and articles published within the pages of The Expositor have in fact gone viral.

“Newspapers like The Expositor serve a myriad of important functions simultaneously,” said Rick McCutcheon, publisher of The Expositor. “They provide community news from well-researched sources and courtesy of a professional news gathering staff.” That dedication to getting the story right has built a reputation for the paper as a trustworthy source of credible information.

The services provided to readers by The Expositor, whether subscribers, those paying for single issues over the counter or accessing the paper through the Internet, extend beyond news stories, noted Mr. McCutcheon. “Readers also benefit from the advertisements from Island retailers and service providers, all provided in a package that they can trust.” That inherent and earned trust factor is one of the key advantages for advertisers delivering their message in print media.

The newspaper industry in general is aware of the role they play and “takes on that role as a responsibility and takes it very seriously,” said Mr. McCutcheon.

For Mr. McCutcheon personally, the role of publisher has played an important part of his life for more than 40 years. In fact, he is also the longest serving publisher in The Expositor’s 135-year history. “I couldn’t imagine anything else,” he said. “I have been in this industry for 47 years—including a 43 year association with The Expositor, first in the late ‘60s as an employee and later as the resident publisher.”

The publisher noted that a longtime friend had recently remarked “Julia and I, and our family, are lucky to have the best job in the world.”

Mr. McCutcheon noted that thanks to The Expositor, he and his family have been given a unique perspective of the changes that have taken place and the pace of those changes on Manitoulin Island, be they social, business, agricultural or tourism.

The role of paper of record is one of which The Expositor owners and staff continue to be immensely proud of and provides a service to residents, consumers and students of history alike that we intend to continue providing well into the next century. We are pleased to have you, our reader, join us on this fascinating journey and invite you to explore the equally fascinating past to be found within our archives at the Northeast Town Public Library or the Assiginack Museum.