Marshall McLuhan, c 1964
My rapidly expanding collection of newspapers and clippings, stored in a Staples box.
|This was the last group photo our 4-H club took shortly before it folded. I stood in the back row, sporting the signature poufy 80s hairstyle (source: Westlock News, pg 21, June 10, 1989).|
Although I do not appear in many of my favourite clippings, they still contain important links to my past nonetheless. On November 17, 2002, my siblings and I published a picture of our parents as a gift for their 40th anniversary. It appeared in both the Westlock News and the Edmonton Journal, but my parents were particularly thrilled with the former. They had lived their lives in the same small town, contributing to the community alongside many of the same people they had known since elementary school. When my parents opened up the “Occasions” section and saw their picture they commented on how much they’d changed, but they were also amazed at the number of other couples celebrating milestones that day. Two 25ths, another 40th and three 50th anniversaries were commemorated on page 28 of the News and, remarkably, my parents could claim some connection to each couple. (For my part, I recognized a former classmate who had just had a baby, and a “friend of a friend” who had recently become engaged.) Perhaps the value of a clipping like this is not in what it overtly says but rather what it represents, a generation of couples who lived their lives in a small town, becoming integral parts of their community and defying Canada’s high divorce rate in the process.
|We placed this ad in the "Occasions" section of the newspaper to commemorate our parents' 40th wedding anniversary (source: Westlock News, pg 28, November 17, 2002).|
As I watched the Olympics this summer, I couldn’t help but reflect on another favourite clipping that chronicles a unique memory. In 2000 my brother travelled to Australia for a work contract, and while there attended several Olympic events in Sydney. One fateful event was rowing, where he met Marnie McBean’s parents in the stands. Typical of his gregarious nature, he got along well with her parents and was later invited to visit Canada House in the Olympic village. There, he met McBean who asked if he was going to stay and meet Simon Whitfield, who was just arriving at Canada House following his gold medal win. He stayed, gathering other memories of meeting Whitfield and, later, the women’s swimming team. I enjoyed getting his phone calls during the Olympics, not minding that most were at about 2 am. He would give me play-by-plays of the sports he was watching, activity at the bars he was at, or commentary on the closing ceremony fireworks. The Westlock News subsequently published a story on my brother’s Australian adventures that also chronicled his own life growing up in Westlock and his later career achievements. The chance meeting with McBean’s parents had given my brother a unique connection to a significant event in Canadian sporting history, the gold medal win in triathlon at Sydney 2000, which the News later captured.
|A copy of the article that featured my brother's Olympic adventures at Sydney in 2000 (source: Westlock News, pg 12, December 13, 2000).|
|This computer was advertised for sale on October 31, 2000, containing minimal technology for a
colossal price by today's standards.|
August 25, 2006 was the day scientists announced that Pluto was no longer a planet.
I have kept some Edmonton Journals from significant events in world history for reasons much like those discussed in HIST 460. For example, many who lived during the JFK assassination kept items such as newspapers, likely wanting to have a tangible record of a significant event that occurred in their lifetime, a record that could potentially spark a memory of where they were and what else may have been happening that day. My most significant newspaper is from January 1, 2000, the first day of the new millennium. Reading it now brings back memories of the excitement and apprehension many people felt as the New Year approached. I recall my boss having me perform enormous amounts of system backups for our library before we shut down for the holidays, and I also remember her concern for her mother’s pacemaker, rumoured to possibly fail once Y2K “hit.” Personally unconcerned, I rang in the New Year with family and the most decadent bottle of ice wine we could find. The following day, the Edmonton Journal published what I still consider one of the most striking editions I’ve seen to date. Its cover contained a fireworks display from City Hall, the simple headline “2000,” and the byline “Welcome to a Brave New World." It also included pictures of how East Coasters, the first to welcome 2000 in Canada, celebrated. Computers had not failed, planes did not fall out of the sky and Y2K fears fizzled as Edmonton welcomed its first millennium baby, Michael Dean Tutsin. Canada, and the world for that matter, would soldier on, as would Russia, whose president Boris Yeltsin announced his resignation with a plea for his countrymen to “forgive him for the shortcomings of his eight years on office.” As I read this paper today, I am amazed at how both Canada and the world have changed in twelve years, and I wonder how little Michael, a boy born the same year as my son, has fared all this time.
|A copy of my favourite Edmonton Journal edition to date, January 1, 2000.|
I kept the September 11, 2001 edition of the Edmonton Journal although it contains nothing of the actual events that happened that day. Edmontonians were likely reading this edition as horrendous events were unfolding in New York and elsewhere. Joe Clark’s coalition attempts were featured on the cover, and a seemingly prophetic story, tucked away in section A7, discussed how the murder of Afghan leader Ahmad Shah Massoud by a Taliban bomber two days before had been a “grave setback to hopes of toppling the extremist Islamic Taliban regime.” Later that evening the Journal staff rushed out a special edition they called “Attack on America,” also dated September 11. I recall reading this second paper, but for reasons I can’t recall I did not keep a copy. I can only speculate that I, like so many others, probably felt inundated by the excessive media coverage in the days and weeks that followed.
|The front page of the Edmonton Journal on September 11, 2001 obviously gave no indication of what was actually occurring that day. The Journal's special edition, published later that day, certainly did.|