A BRIEF HISTORY OF KENTVILLE NEWSPAPERS (March 22/11)

The town of Kentville can boast that the county’s leading newspapers have been published there since the late 19th century. Here’s a look at he town’s newspaper history, the second in a series of columns marking the town’s 125th anniversary (Column 1, Column 3).

While the honor of pioneering the county’s first newspaper belongs to Canning (The Kings County Gazette was first published there in 1864) Kentville had its own newspaper shortly after. In 1868 a weekly newspaper called the Star moved from Berwick to Kentville, where it was published for five years. This was the beginning of Kentville’s dominance as the publishing site for Kings County’s newspaper, a dominance lasting until recent times.

In 1873 The Star moved its office back to Berwick in 1873, leaving Kentville without its own newspaper. This situation was quickly rectified. Realizing the importance of having a newspaper in the town, a group of young Kentville businessmen formed a publishing company in the spring of 1873, creating a newspaper called The Western Chronicle.

My source for this preamble on Kentville’s newspapers is an article in The Advertiser’s 1979 centennial issue. The Advertiser’s source was a story on journalism in Kings County, by John E. Woodworth, published in 1904 in a Halifax County newspaper called The Suburban. All following quotes are taken from this article, which readers can find in its entirety in Ivan Smiths website, Nova Scotia History Index.

No record exists (that I can find) of who the “young Kentville businessmen” were but they quickly installed Joseph H. Cogswell, “a practical printer,” as manager and editor of The Western Chronicle, which first was a semiweekly and then a weekly. Under Cogswell, (who within five years was sole owner of the paper) and later under G. W. Woodworth, whom Cogswell sold out to in 1879, The Western Chronicle became one of the leading newspapers in the province.

Kentville’s little newspaper, usually never more than eight pages each issue, was recognized around the province for its journalistic content. “Mr. Woodworth’s management of the Western chronicle was fraught with energy,” reads the centennial issue article, meaning I assume running the paper was too much for one person. Thus the “services of Mr. Elihu Woodworth were secured, and under his control the editorial management of the paper was second to none in the province. Notwithstanding the fact that the brother of the proprietor – the late D. B. Woodworth, Esq. – was prominent in political circles at the time, the paper, being the only one in the county, was courteous and fairly independent in the treatment of public question.”

Woodworth began publishing a second newspaper in Kentville, The Farmer’s Manual, but this was short-lived. Around 1885 another newspaper, The New Star, moved to Kentville from Wolfville and an often heated competition began with The Western Chronicle. Both newspapers remained active in the county for some time. I’ve read in some accounts that The Western Chronicle eventually became The Advertiser (now The Kings County Advertiser) but the article in The Suburban claims otherwise.

The Suburban notes that The New Star was sold to Frank H. Eaton in 1892. Eaton changed the name of The New Star to The Advertiser. Eaton ran the paper until 1897; in 1897 he turned the paper over to his brother, R. W. Eaton, who in turn sold The Advertiser to H. G. Harris. When The Suburban published the history of Kings County newspapers in 1904, Harris was still editor and proprietor of The Advertiser. The Baker family eventually took over The Advertiser and it became the sole newspaper serving Kentville and surrounding district.

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