By Stewart Grant
Since the settling of our town in 1842, a number of different newspapers have kept local citizens informed.
George B. McIntosh first published the St. Marys Journal in 1853, but not long thereafter sold it to John B. Abbott. Meanwhile in 1857, the St. Marys Argus would be founded by a man named Riggs. Though the Journal and Argus live on to this day in consolidated form, other local newspapers of the 19th century include the Perth Standard (later known as the St. Marys Standard and Orange Gazette) and the St. Marys Vidette. Less successful papers included the St. Marys Leader (starting in 1892 and lasting for 8 months) and the Pen and Platform (1889-1891)
Though the St. Marys Journal’s name would disappear for a period of time in the 19th century, the moniker was re-introduced in 1876 following the merger of the Standard and Vidette newspapers. The Journal’s ownership would change hands several times during the next 10 years until John W. Eedy acquired control of the newspaper in 1887. The Journal and the St. Marys Argus would compete for local readership until 1920, when John Eedy acquired his main competitor and consolidated the two brands into the St. Marys Journal-Argus.
For the next 80 years, the Eedy family would continue to control the Journal-Argus. Lorne Eedy succeeded the first Eedy in 1926, followed by John W. Eedy, and then finally his son Lorne Eedy.
In June 1999, Metroland Media (owned by Toronto-based Torstar Corporation) acquired the Journal-Argus along with 9 other local newspapers from Eedy. A year later, former town councilor Frank Doyle started up the St. Marys Independent, making the Stonetown a two-newspaper town for the first time since 1920.
Danielle Dobi of the Ryerson Review of Journalism wrote a fascinating study of the “Showdown in Stonetown” (available online at www.rrj.ca/showdown-in-stonetown) in the summer of 2001 when the Independent was still in its infancy. Bev Thibodeau was humourously quoted in the article as saying, “[Doyle’s] gotta have rocks in his head for starting an independent nowadays.”
Despite initial skepticism about the new paper’s chances, Doyle successfully owned and operated the Independent until selling the newspaper to myself in June 2014 (Doyle continues to be editor-in-chief to this day).
The Stonetown has now been a two-newspaper town for 17 years, with each of the St. Marys Journal-Argus and St. Marys Independent bringing their own unique style to reporting local happenings.