The Interior News
“[The Bulkley Valley] would be a wonderful place for a new weekly ... a good worker with a press should do well with it. I figured it was time to settle down and soon made up my mind to go into that country.”
- Joseph Coyle in an interview with historian John Tupper Saywell, 1951
Early Newspapers: The Bulkley Pioneer & Omineca Herald
Joseph Coyle arrived in the Bulkley Valley in the summer of 1907, ready to put down roots after years spent traversing the U.S. as a typewriter salesman. He originally intended to live in Hazelton. However, he was persuaded to go further south to Aldermere, a small town situated on the bluffs above Telkwa, by John Dorsey of the North Coast Land Company. Dorsey was a financier of the new Bulkley Pioneer newspaper, which had been founded that April to promote real estate in the Bulkley Valley. It was published by E. Morrison Grout of Vancouver before being transferred to Aldermere in June, with a printing press carried in by steamboat and then pack train. The first issue under Coyle’s name was printed on August 3rd 1907 - a date which he would later cite as the ‘birthday’ of the Interior News, effectively erasing the paper's first four months of existence.
However, the partnership between Coyle and North Coast Land Co. was not to be. While Coyle wanted to own the paper himself, Dorsey would only offer him a short-term lease. Coyle continued to publish under the slightly-altered name The Bulkley Pioneer into early summer 1908, insisting that “this paper has no connection with the defunct Bulkley Pioneer of Vancouver” and threatening Dorsey and his associates with legal action if they interfered. Predictably, their arrangement soon broke down.
Having cut his ties with North Coast, Coyle moved to New Hazelton in August 1908 and established the Omineca Herald with local prospector Louis DeVoin. This venture, too, was short-lived. As DeVoin’s 1930 obituary puts it, “the confining and monotonous nature of the publishing business proved unbearably vexatious to one accustomed to the toilsome and exciting life of a hard-rock miner.” DeVoin soon quit, and by the end of 1909 Coyle had sold the Herald and returned to Aldermere. (The Omineca Herald continued to publish out of Hazelton for several decades, moved to Terrace in 1949, and ran as the Terrace Omineca Herald until the early 1980s).
The Interior News
On January 1st 1910, Coyle greeted the new year with a new title for his paper - the Interior News. Despite the name change, Coyle explicitly intended the News to be a continuation of The Bulkley Pioneer, rather than an entirely new paper. The first edition was even numbered as if it was the next issue of the Pioneer.
Running a small-town newspaper in the early 20th century was no easy job, especially for a one-man operation. Coyle gathered all his news in person, going to friends and neighbors for local topics and to hotel guests, pack train workers, and Tyhee Lake’s telegraph operator, Mr. Murphy, for reports from the wider world. Early editions of the Interior News were hand-set, four pages long, and cost 10 cents. They were usually printed on imported paper, though the story goes that he once had to use wallpaper instead when supplies were delayed!
Much of the paper was devoted to local and regional items - who was in the hospital, who had bought their first car, who had won the latest baseball game, and so on. But Coyle also kept residents of the Bulkley Valley informed of far-off events such as the sinking of the RMS Titanic, the Russian Revolution, and the First World War. The paper also contained editorials expressing Coyle's personal opinions, reprints of articles from other newspapers, and - of course - advertisements galore.
Moving to Smithers
Aldermere’s residents began to move to Smithers after it was established in 1913, and Coyle and his paper followed. His new office was located between First and Second Avenues on Main Street, close to the current location of Salt Boutique.
The Interior News was not without its competition. Other local newspapers of the time included the Smithers Tribune, the Smithers Review, and the Smithers Sentinel, none of which lasted more than a year or two. Coyle gave the Sentinel a tongue-in-cheek eulogy on August 13th 1915, saying: “Although we believe there is hardly room for a second paper here, and its end was inevitable, we are downright sorry for the passing of the Sentinel. It was at least a sociable neighbor, and we’ll miss its friendly taps, as for instance when it called Telkwa a hamlet, though hardly expecting to get away with it.”
Coyle’s time as editor of the Interior News and its predecessors lasted just over a decade. In 1918, he sold the paper to his friend L.B. (Lawrence Beverly) Warner and moved his family to Vancouver to focus on his newest creation - the egg carton. Warner, succeeded by his wife Margaret and son Kenneth, operated the paper until it merged with the short-lived Smithers Pictorial in 1968. Ken Warner then turned his attention to his printing & stationery business, which eventually became BV Printers and Mills Office Productivity. The Interior News was purchased by Cariboo Press in 1979 and today is owned by Cariboo’s parent company, Black Press Media.
All issues of the Interior News from 1910-2008 and 2018-2022 are available for viewing on Newspapers.com with a paid subscription, and can be accessed for free on the Bulkley Valley Museum's research room computer. Microfilm copies of The Bulkley Pioneer and the Omineca Herald are also available at the Museum. Please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org if you would like to book an appointment to view these items.