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The Story of The Driftwood

Peter McCully

Peter McCully
Peter McCully

This presentation is a special event to mark the 50th Anniversary of the award-winning Driftwood newspaper. There will also be an Anniversary Celebration at Artspring on March 26th.

Peter is talking about the past of the Driftwood, explaining “how we did it then” when the paper started in 1960, the paper’s ownership and management in the early years, the staff who created the paper—including old staff photos—and the equipment they used. A slide show is incorporated into the presentation.

Accession Number Interviewer Address to the Historical Society
Date March 10, 2010 Location
Media digital recording Audio CD mp3 √
ID 205 Duration

Slide Presentation




Unknown Speaker 0:00
I'd like to introduce you now to Peter Macaulay, who is the publisher of the driftwood. And he has going is going to make a presentation on some of the historical facts of the driftwood. And also tell you about a program that the driftwood is setting up to honor their 50th anniversary of publishing on Saltspring. So Peter, would you like to come forward and do your thing?

Unknown Speaker 0:26
afternoon, everyone. The subject of my talk today will be as much about where the driftwood is going as where it has been 50 years, a glimpse of the last 50 years and I look ahead to the next few years, the way things are changing. I'm not sure we could jump ahead too far. But Frank, give us a slide. So I thought what we should do first is kind of get our head around what was happening in the world and unsolved spring, when the driftwood started publishing. 1960 was the year John F. Kennedy was elected president and he had a son, JFK Jr. Hawaii was lashed to join the union and cashes clay, who later threw his gold medal in the river was given a gold medal in boxing at the Olympics. Was that in Munich? I can't remember. I was to Diefenbaker was Prime Minister of Canada. This is an interesting one. WAC Bennett was re elected premier of BC for his fourth term. He had won 32 of the 53 seats in the legislature. And I think you'll agree that as BC politics goes the last 20 or 30 years, I seriously doubt if anybody will ever go for terms again. Joey Smallwood was I heard that Joey Smallwood was premier of Newfoundland, and of course, they were the last province to join Confederation. The world was relatively small, were 30 billion now 3 billion in 1960. The popular population of Saltspring Island was under 3500. And marking their 50th anniversary with the driftwood is BC Ferries they began service between to Austin and Swartz Bay, same year. This is the very first issue of the driftwood which is blown up and put on a hardcopy there in the walls you can take a peek at it was founded by a fella by the name of woody Fisher who moved to Canada from Kansas in the 1950s. He he ran the driftwood with his brother, but there doesn't seem to be much said about his brother for some reason or another. Just for a second Frank will go back to that other one. I wanted to mention what the front page story was. In case you can't see it from where you are. The Fulford fire truck had beaten the Ganges truck to a fire at St. Mary's Lake. As you read it up here, you'll understand that both fire trucks were in Ganges at the time. And it just happened that the Fulford fire truck was in a better position. When the bell went to get out to St. Mary's lakes and the Ganges truck. The Duke celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary in Vesuvius. It's well known Saltspring name, of course. Hit me. This is what they printed the barefoot on. Many of you would be familiar with the stettner press. Especially if you had anything to do with the educational system. In the early years. This particular one was was hand operated actually see there's a handle down here who would crank this thing up, and it would print eight and a half by 14 sheets of paper, printed one two sides. And the driftwood at that time was 10 pages. So I'm really not sure who this young guy is. Are you do you have any idea Duncan? No, no, it's not me. It's Duncan worked at the driftwood in the early days. And we'll get you to give us your favorite favorite recollection at some point. How's that, along with

Unknown Speaker 4:16
Dorsey percent were ads.

Unknown Speaker 4:20
While going through those very little I would say probably one full page would be ads out of the 10. And the copy of the paper I think was a nickel at that time. In 1964, two of the employees at the paper Jim and Arlene Ward bought the driftwood and expanded it to coverage to the outer islands to Maine Pender and Galliano and it truly became the Gulf Islands driftwood at that, at that point. 1967 Frank Richards bought the driftwood Frank was editor of the Sydney review at the time and had been working there for about 15 years, wanted to buy the Sydney review and they wouldn't part with it. So he started looking around. And Saltspring was very close. At the time, the Sydney paper was as popular as the driftwood in some regards, it was a much bigger paper. And it was for sale on on Saltspring at the time. So Frank, as a matter of fact, I just got a copy of the 1959 Sydney review, just before lunch today with some of Frank's reviews in it for books, and it's really interesting. So I'm gonna try and have a copy of that for our open house. Now in those days, Ganges and Saltspring was a pretty small place, and you did what you could to make a living. And the driftwood was really no different. Et cetera. You know, it grew at started small, got big, got small again, at that time, the bookstore excetera was part of the driftwood there was a bookstore stationery store, a print shop, and probably because Frank like wine, a winemaker store. And this is Barbara, his wife, who was working etc. At the time. Since the same building this is a shot you can see the gas station to be a gas station. And this is looking towards moments to where Saltspring air dock would be now as you come down the hill and go through town. So this is where the driftwood office was here on the left. And the driftwood has moved around a lot was located at the bottom of the hill behind the liquor store in Jackson Avenue. One time across from Salt Springs Elementary, as Tony Richard says his favorite spot was when it was located next to movies. And of course now it's located lower Ganges road. In 1970, the driftwood moved from the customer style printing to wet press press had been in operation in Victoria for a few years. And the technology had become such that they could now print quicker. And so they could expand their services to entertain other customers. So the driftwood had grown in size and in revenue and what was now able to afford a better quality print. So you can see now that we're into five columns, the picture looks better. It was very few pictures in the other Jeff woods, mostly line drawings. And we started to see how the stories were laid out. The Banner had changed. And so now they were able to run as many of these as they wanted, very quickly. This was the copy graphic machine. Dorothy, did you ever use this? No. Okay. This machine was state of the art. So you picture your most expensive laptop computer today. This was it right there. And what it did to produce a sheet of paper, very high quality glossy type paper, which would be run through a waxer. So you get a coat of wax on one side, we stripped into columns. And then using a little roller like this, it would be rolled up on a page. And that's what we call wax up. And so this machine was just for typesetting. It was just for the words and the columns. And then they'd be arranged on a piece of paper. In 1972, I believe it was machine cost 4000 bucks, and the training was three months was more than a new car. So at that time, members of the Richards family who were working at the driftwood, Frank was a publisher. Tony was the editor and reporter Barbara was running, et cetera. Alice was the photographer and typesetter and she didn't take set that obviously I've never been much of a proofreader you know, Joe Richards, Tony sister in accounting, Valerie, another sister in sales. So I thought it'd be fun to pull out a few old ads from 1970 Just so you can compare prices. This will bring a tear to some people's eyes 17 acres near Ganges with a large peat soil deposit. Terrific potential for your investment was being advertised for 27 $1,500 Try your terms

Unknown Speaker 10:08
cedar beach resort was more of a resort at that time. It's more now for camping, of course. But they were offering a New Year's Eve party for $12.50 a person at their Polynesian room for New Year's Eve in 1970. The harbor low cost grocery. I looked through this a couple of times and I was looking at the prices and the one that really stood out to me was orange juice five cans for $1. So if you had stocked in McCain's in 1970 and they sell it now for $1.79 account or something Thank you probably would have done pretty well. This is a really good one holiday homes and Burnaby would deliver to your life. Of course at that time Ganges and Saltspring I should say was growing and so as the Gulf Islands with vacationers from the Lower Mainland. You could get built complete on your lot. Three bedroom house, two or three bedroom models to choose from. For $10,993 delivered from Burnaby to Salt Spring. If you wanted to put it together yourself. It was $7,254 I'm not sure what you get for $7,254 today but it might pay for half the windows. Mo it's been where was very popular. For those of you who have a London mist raincoat hanging up in your closet, you'll know that it costs way more than 2495 BC plaid shirts 795 or as we call them, well I'm from Nova Scotia we call them BC Terrington. mullets, of course was the hardware store. Regular exterior latex paint and in 1970 was $12.90 a gallon. So for those of you that, remember your paint prices, that's a pretty good price. Shell is older than the barefoot. It's been around. I'm not sure how long but it's been more than 50 years. At that time, it was run by the current hens. And they were leasing hot water tanks for $4 a month. Saltspring lands 15 and a half acres of fields and meadows with a stream and a bright sunny area for $24,000. And you'll see that in 1970. Mel topping was one of the agents and Bob Terra.

Unknown Speaker 12:54
So 1980 Things changed for the record a little bit, not only in the way that the paper was being produced, but the way the newspaper Well, the Richard's family started take a bigger part in the newspaper in the BC why and the CCNA. Those are the provincial and national organizations. So that brought national recognition to the paper because we ran very high editorial standards. In 1983, the paper placed first in Canada and its circulation size. And this was the staff at the time. Catherine McFadden was the office manager for just over 20 years. And you'll see there's Barbara Frank Allison Tonio Fred. In 1990, there was another press built on Vancouver Island was built in lady Smith by black press. And it marked the start of a whole new era in publishing. It allowed us to put a little color on the front page. This wasn't a process color photo as you're used to now, but we were able to put red on or blue or any one of the solid colors that we could get the next year or two after that it was started to appear as process color. We also the driftwood started switching to computers at that time and bought digital cameras in the 90s. I came to the driftwood in 1998 and the next year we bought this camera. It's a Fuji color camera was one of the very first digital cameras around and we bought it used for $2,500 and it took 11 pictures. That's all and up until then we were running 35 millimeter cameras rolling our own filming a little dark room. And you could go in there on Sunday when Derek was done running around town And then that would be all probably two to 300 photos hanging in long strips. And he had the bass and you know, so you could do all the prints and everything that we would scan those or make a PMT is it's called a photographic and wax it right onto the page, those would be all sent to the press that way, and they would make negative. So as we get a little older, the drift would get a little better. As the community started to grow, I like to think the Deerfoot is simply a reflection of the input of the readers. Because basically, if it wasn't for the community, there wouldn't be a newspaper. And this is one of the most active communities I've ever seen that participate in their local newspaper. In 2000 2008 2009, we were lucky enough to be named first place in Canada and our circulation sighs. And we always like to say, you know, wildly awards demonstrate the high standards. Our mission is just every week to put your nose down and create a newspaper. And at the end of the year, you have 52, but we just look each week, one at a time. And it's combination. 52 weeks is what you get. The driftwood is only had seven publishers in its 50 year history, which is quite remarkable in itself. What do you Fisher and Jim Ward, which were the originals for seven years, Frank Richards, Tony Richards, Tony went to work for the CCNA, which is the Canadian Newspaper Association at one point in the very early 90s. Actually, I think was the very late 80s into the very early 90s. And went to Ottawa to help them run their program which sees, then trade, trade is not the word I want. It's an exchange program for newspapers. They'll take a person from Africa and put them into Japan. And they'll learn how each other does their thing. And it spreads the word gets people reading and printing better newspapers. So anyway, Tony, disappeared for three years to Ottawa, and hired Joyce Carlson to run the paper for him in his absence. And when he returned, she went to Powell River and started to paper, which has done very, very well. And she's gone on to be president of the BC y and the CCNA. At another time. Penny Sakamoto took over from Tony, both five or six years ago. And now she's running the Victoria news for the black press group in Victoria. And I was sales manager at the time, and had some good experience. So I applied for the job, and was lucky enough to get it. I'm the only one of the seven people who has an immediate experience outside of the newspaper industry, which is kind of where everything is heading. And the next part of our talk is going. So this is this is how the driftwood looks now as opposed to how it looked in 1960. We have full color on the front, you can see that there's various elements which are intended to draw you into the paper, give you an idea of what the story is about on the main page. keyframe. So where are we all headed now that we've kind of looked back at the at the history of the driftwood very briefly. And that's really wherever technology takes us college grads today when they go into school, one in five. One of the I guess the jobs that they're applying for one of the five, the jobs hadn't even been thought up yet. I don't know how they get their head around that. Because when I went to school, you know you went in and you had a pretty good idea of what you're going to do in four years when you get out for seven years or six years. Today, jobs are evolving so quickly. They could be applying for something that hadn't even been invented when they get out of school. And that's where the technology is taking us. So the driftwood is online. Now, as you might imagine, most newspapers are online. Most of the content that you get in the newspaper each and every week is online. We have the written we also have the photos, which are all linked to other community newspapers in British Columbia. But we also now have video as well. I'm sure you've all seen these little video cameras you can buy now they're about this big. We now have the ability to run down to the harbor and take a picture, some short video or take your video if you have something happening and have it live on the internet. In a matter of you know half an hour very quickly if there's something important happen And it shouldn't wait until Wednesday, we can get it on the internet.

Unknown Speaker 20:08
For people who want to read things online, but aren't crazy about the busyness of websites, and the blinking and talking, and the singing and whatever, we have now something called a flipbook. You're probably familiar with PDF format, which is a pretty universal format. Now, we were putting magazines like Aqua magazine online, and they're really easy to use, you just go to the address, and up in the top right hand corner, you click it, and it turns the page, just like you're sitting at the kitchen table. And it even makes a little noise with the page turning. You can print the page, you can send the link to, you know, your son in Calgary, or whatever the case is. So that's, that's part of the the technology that I really enjoy. It is getting back to what the print product is like, even though it's online. If you have grandchildren, you probably heard of Facebook. You may have even used Twitter. Does anybody know what Twitter is? Besides Jamie? No. Okay. Well, these are all social media platforms, which allow people to get information very quickly. If you were on our website, for instance, and you were looking at the story about the weekend soccer party, you could go up here to share or email, you could go up and click the Share or the email. And we'll give you a very options of how to send that to somebody else. And that's how information moves around the globe. So fast now. If you can find your way around the website page, you can send anything anywhere. Our classifieds are online. People put an ad on in the driftwood they get to read online at BC Go finance And that's necessary for us. As you know, we have to compete with some of the free sites like Kijiji and Craigslist and this type of thing. Now you're able to buy your photos online. If you don't want to come in to the driftwood and say, I'd like that picture from last week's front page to send to my grandson. You can go online, click the photo, put your credit card in, and it'll be mailed to your house in a week. That's what technology does for you. So coming up, march 26, which is a Friday, we're going to be celebrating our 50th anniversary publishing the driftwood. So there'll be an event at artspring at the galleries that day, which you're all invited to. It'll start at 10 and five, we've invited a number of community groups and businesses as you know, historical society to be part of that. The library will be part of that we have mullets. Patterson's, the Saltspring in the latest incarnation of the in whatever rate, there's a total of nine community partners which will be there displaying some of their materials from years gone by, and will have, as you see pages around the outside of the wall here, we'll have about 35 of those blown up the poster size, you can spend a few minutes and read some very interesting articles on the sewer by lobbying past. For those of you who are here for that, it's made good reading, I'll tell you. And there's a number of faces, you'll recognize places you recognize eventual recognize. And so we want to make it fun. Want you to spend a little time there and enjoy yourself, we're gonna have a little fun with a two. We're offering some cash prizes for those of you who are the best dressed driftwood readers. If you I don't know if you've seen the paper yet today, but I'm, I've got a picture in there with my driftwood kill time. So for those of you who'd like to make a hat or a purse or whatever it might be and bring it with you. We're going to give away $50 prize to the five best dressed driftwood readers. So we will have a little fun with it as well. So, before I take any questions I'd like to ask Dorothy and Duncan, if you could give us a quick highlight of your time with the draft. Just give me your

Unknown Speaker 24:58
first word for the paper for doors. He did. I was above grade 11 I think at the time and I get this phone call and I like a job. And of course I said yes. And I joined the paper. It was first year second edition. I can't remember. But I never made my name on the masthead because I was just one of the guys in the office. But it was really fun working with Woody and his wife Bobby. She was in Texas accent you can hardly understand. So I for a while I draw after working there. But we had a lot of fun. And when I always remember is part of fun that we had one of the first IBM Selectric typewriters, which had a tight head was a golf ball, and the carriage flew back and forth and laid on a Wednesday Bobby would take a swig of a beer and put it down and hit return. It's beautiful, I would disappear. And things like that. I started for 50 cents an hour after Well, I gotta raise 75. And Peter had made some comment about prices, I actually saved money out of that and bought University textbooks with it was more than just pocket money. Now the funny thing about life when the bookstore started, I opened up in the morning, theoretically at eight or so. But I hitchhiked up from Fulford, which took a while sometimes, and I sometimes forget the key. So I'd wait till now it's opened at 830 or nine and go over and invest 10 cents in a skeleton key, go over and open up the office. I did that many times. There was a favorite very different than reflecting the times of the island. You'll notice on some of the ones on the wall, they'll talk about bridal parties in the Bride Wore and the red bridesmaid or such and such and who and who attended the tea parties and so on. It was also a little very forward looking article section called facts and foibles. And it was a combination of trivia Little did you know that and who was seen with whom and that kind of thing. It's almost a precursor to rants and roses. Now we're little comments get made about community life. I guess I worked for until I went off to university and then again the following summer, I came back and did some work for a

Unknown Speaker 27:12
while I didn't keep on with it.

Unknown Speaker 27:14
I don't know. I left in 61 and came back briefly in 62. And I was 64 was to change hands. Peter 64. Yeah. He went back to the States. What do you want from here? I actually disagree with up there. So what do you went from here to working for a newspaper in the Fraser Valley somewhere in Michigan or something. And then I ran into him in the prairies by late 60s, early 70s. He was marketing manager for the Western producer, which is the biggest farm newspaper in Canada. That certainly covers all the prairies he has come to he was living in Saskatoon base there at that time. And every time he came to Edmonton, he would give me a press card and take me out on his expense account. So I had a few eight ounce delays on Woody. Or the Western producers the case may be and then after early 70s I lost touch with them. I don't know where they want to go

Unknown Speaker 28:15
can I get your share of your memories with us?

Unknown Speaker 28:18
Well, I don't really have too much to share on over

Unknown Speaker 28:20
here to the microphone. Sorry, put you on the spot. Let's

Unknown Speaker 28:27
Okay. Well, we moved to Salt Spring in 1964. And I was always looking for something to do so I didn't have enough with four children. But we bought the Seabreeze that was yes. But anyway, I worked mostly trying to find jobs. I worked for the Chamber of Commerce. I went down to work for the drift grid for $1 an hour. Sorry about that. worth more than you between 60 and 60. Those those things that he's talking about the highest type old be Hamilton's input to choose to put and she'd write about the Garden Parties and everything had to be mentioned the flowers, they carried the grounds they wore the shoes they will but unbeknownst to her, I used to do a little because it wouldn't fit in. But mostly it was on that old typewriter. And it was really kind of fun and good. McLean's mother used to work at the driftwood to Jim Mclean who's the roofer his mother worked up to drifter, too. So it was kind of fun. But I didn't manage to save money for $1 and now Sorry, that was fun. It was getting my outfit to enter the community and working for it. Thank you

Unknown Speaker 29:50
didn't save any money. So if anyone has any questions, I'd be happy to answer a few

Unknown Speaker 30:00
That period of the barnacle, and we never got the full story. There was something about ads and not getting paid and not getting the people who put out the barnacles that they were former employees that were on a commission. And then it changed.

Unknown Speaker 30:20
Yeah, it was basically they were into a contract negotiation with management and couldn't reach an agreement. So they started their own newspaper. And that's when I came to the island. It was the week after the article started.

Unknown Speaker 30:34
who actually owns this Richard still own?

Unknown Speaker 30:38
The Richards family owns majority of the shares underfoot? Yeah. Oh, yeah. Every public public company is that shares? No, no, no, it's the family that owns the shares. Questions.

Unknown Speaker 30:55
You mentioned all the changes that are going on in the media. All this internet activity that you explain at the moment is that a loss leader for the paper, are you moving into a situation where it's going to generate a profit,

Unknown Speaker 31:12
it's a very awkward spot right now in in media in general, there are very few websites, which would generate the same amount of revenue, as you could make from your print product. It's we've started here, we want to get here, but we're somewhere in here. And as a matter of fact, you know, over the last couple of years, revenues had been building towards advertisers who put their ads online as opposed to in other media, like television, radio newspaper, it started to move pretty good that way. And then the economy changed in the last 18 months. And there's actually been a slide backwards of people advertising online, they've gone back to more traditional media, because they found that that works for them right now. I'm sure that we'll get there. But I have no idea of when or how it's just going to take care of itself. The fact of the matter is, though, is that, you know, the revenue you can generate from printing a newspaper, and paying all the employees still is better than putting it on a website and having two people look after it in order for people or a reduced number of staff. And the models in the states are not much better. The New York Times Washington Post San Francisco. I think it was about three years ago, Washington, the Washington Post had 200 videographers working in their newsroom, as people who could either write a story for the newspaper, or take a little camera out and do a video report and put it on the internet. And write for the paper. And you know, that newsroom is now half of what it was. It just started in that direction. And I think between I think the economy had an awful lot to do with it. People just stopped spending money, and then they went back to what they were comfortable with. So it'll happen again. But I can't tell you when

Unknown Speaker 33:23
it's small newspapers, like you don't get very many people on mine.

Unknown Speaker 33:28
We have about 5000 people a month who read the just put online, readable 1500 people a week.

Unknown Speaker 33:34
But you don't publish the whole thing.

Unknown Speaker 33:37
That's right. But a lot of people would buy their paper on Wednesday, check in Friday to see if something's happened or Sunday or Monday. Just because the paper comes out on Wednesday doesn't mean we don't put news on the Internet. If something happens, and it's newsworthy, it's on there.

Unknown Speaker 33:54
Used to read in the classifieds, some really crazy advertising or some message.

Unknown Speaker 34:07
Now, the two late classifieds

Unknown Speaker 34:09
are not just not partners to come in regular classifieds.

Unknown Speaker 34:13
Right. Yeah. Yeah, it seems to have I think that's, you know, that's a reflection of who's putting their classifieds in. And, and I've seen a change just in the 11 years I've been here, the letters to the editor haven't changed any, they're still as good as they ever were. And maybe even better. But some of the other input that we might have gotten from, you know, people here in the 60s and 70s, but now maybe have moved on somewhere else sold their property and you know, the free people, the ones that we had a lot of fun with in the paper, either they're not contributing to the paper the same way they were or they're not here. around the island anymore. And I think it's a little bit of both, but how many employees? full time employees would be for the 14th, I believe. And we have four part timers. And we have some people who just work a day a week or whatever, like Tao who delivers paper. 21 years he's been with us, Jason. Yeah. Jason has been around a long time. Yeah. Any other questions? Okay. We'll see you on Friday the 26th. Thank you.

Unknown Speaker 35:49
Thanks, Peter. That was pretty good. I guess, thinking back from the time there has been four or five newspapers on Saltspring. The driftwood has survived all of the all of the ones that have come and gone. So obviously, it does serve the needs of the community in a more positive way than some of the others did. But I guess we all look forward to reading the driftwood. And seeing if our name is in it or not hoping it isn't, but occasionally is there I would like to take a moment to invite you for coffee and tea. And to have a chance to look at the pictures and look at some of the drift ones that are out here that Peters mentioned, is probably more important that if you have a look at those driftwood, you'll get a very good indication of, of the stories of the past and sort of how the driftwood has evolved and how it does serve the community. And I've often thought that when I look at the driftwood, how the stories don't really change that much over the years, you can go back and see the same story in a different light or something comes up, changes at the sewer comes up every once in a while. And probably that'll be a big story in the next while if they tried to expand it again. Islands Trust has always been in there ever since they were incorporated and incorporation is always a story that keeps rolling back and forth. So you can go and read read some of that and find out that although the island population has changed, and the Griffin has changed, a lot of the news is virtually the same. And he didn't mention your Friday edition. But I like that I think that was a good good thing. Arthur blacks in the Friday edition, it's always worthwhile read that it's free, which is sort of nice. So thanks very much Peter enjoyed it very much.