‘A journal of decent standards’
Before The Compass appeared in 1968, there was The Bay News, which was published 10 years earlier.
The first issue of The Bay News appeared on Aug. 16, 1958. The subscription rate was $2.50 a year; a single copy cost five cents. The newspaper ceased publication on July 25, 1959.
The premier issue, a souvenir edition, was subtitled “A Weekly Newspaper for Conception and Trinity Bays.” It was published every Saturday.
The editor and publisher of the chatty newspaper was Patrick H. Pickett of Bay Roberts.
Born at South Side, Fogo, in 1920, Pickett received a journalism degree from the University of Western Ontario and an education degree from Memorial University. He taught in Newfoundland and Nova Scotia. He was a reporter and staff writer with The Evening Telegram, St. John’s. He also edited The Monitor and The Senior Voice. Perhaps his best-known book is “ Heroic Companion: The Newfoundland Dog.”
“ We are publishing a paper, not of necessity, but rather to fill a need in an important and fast-growing area of the province,” Pickett informed the readers of his Bay News.
He realized “ the heavy responsibility” he was assuming, along with “the many long hours of work ahead.” Still, he was “ happy to undergo the necessary travail, if we can bring to the people (that is, everyone of us, in all walks of life) a journal of decent standards.
“In a democracy, the people need a voice if they are to reach any degree of political maturity. Full information ( facts) is necessary before anyone can make an intelligent decision.”
The editor aimed “to bring to the people … such information that informs, educates and entertains, at the same time providing a voice of opinion through its columns.
“ This paper is backed by no one except you, the people; beholding to no one except you, the public.”
Pickett solicited his readers’ support, prayers, praise and criticism.
Rereading the newspaper today shows the things that were on people’s minds in the area in the late 1950s.
The first news item is “Man moves hill and builds home, garage.” Victor Mercer of Bay Roberts moved the hill at Woody Point, at the entrance to Spaniard’s Bay, in order to build a home and garage. It also eliminated “one of the worst highway hazards on the Conception Bay highway — a sharp, blind curve.”
Squid were plentiful. Tourism was on the increase. Thieves were being sought after a “wave of recent breakins” in Clarke’s Beach-Makinsons. Carbonear was leading a “ big building boom.” Sheep farmers were dipping their flocks, as “a precautionary measure to keep sheep free of disease.” Church news takes pride of place. The new Roman Catholic Church at North River was blessed. In Central United Church, Bay Roberts, a set of chairs, donated by Pearl Elms, was dedicated. The Anglican church in South River was “ losing its weatherbeaten appearance and getting a new coat of paint.”
Socials were an integral part of the newspaper.
Alice Mercer of Bay Roberts East and Robert Cater of Grand Falls were united in matrimony. At Carbonear, Mrs. John Rorke Sr. “returned home after a brief visit to hospital in St. John’s, where she underwent examination and has the assurance her health is good.”
The C.L.B. Armoury, Bay Roberts, was purchased and handed over to the town, to be the new site of council business.
The Bay News relied on advertising.
The proprietors of Marshall’s Hardware, located on Water Street, Bay Roberts, offered a wide variety of merchandise, including souvenirs of the town, fishing tackle, bicycles ($34.95), electric lamps, kettles, hotplates, irons, frying pans, toasters, beds, springs, mattresses, daybeds, cups and saucers.
Powell’s Supermarket in Bay Roberts, on the Conception Bay Highway, stocked pickled trout, salmon and pigs’ feet. There were also pigs’ jowls and riblets, along with fresh lettuce, cucumber and watermelon. The shop specialty was homemade bread and cakes, “ fresh daily.” Finally, “ we stock a book rack and make keys.” Pickett offered editorial comment. For example, “ Since the Department of Highways was reorganized two years ago, it has done more effective work on our secondary roads than was done for the past 50 years.”
Noel Motors & Transit Ltd., presumably of Carbonear, offered “complete automotive services, inter-town transportation.” A rebuilt carburetor and a voltage regulator could be purchased for as low as $8.35 and $6.50, respectively.
There was even an attempt at humour.
A mechanic, speaking t o a motorist seeking car repairs, said, “If your car were a horse, it would have to be shot!”
In Sports, lady wrestlers were a big hit at the Harbour Grace stadium. And so on. . . The Bay News shut its doors less than a year later. It was the end of a valiant attempt on the part of the editor, Patrick H. Pickett, to produce a publication that was, in the words of Diane P. Janes, “concerned with local events and considered non-political.”
An old-fashioned game of Red Rover got the adrenaline pumping the the competitive juices flowing.
The cards were flying and the bids were increasing as participants vied for a share of the pot in a friendly poker competition.