Egnar Sandahl is at the counter of the Observer diorama and ready to greet you at R.J. Haney Heritage Village! The typesetters have gone home after their work was done and Publisher George Armstrong is in his office negotiatinwith photographer Frank Duncan to sell subscriptions to the Observer while he is out with his camera. Egnar, the Pressman, is the only staff person available. You will have to forgive his ink-stained hands. He’s been working on the latest newspaper under the masthead Salmon Arm Observer and Shuswap Lake Recorder.

This story is embedded in the artefacts that are on display. The exhibit is unlike any other commercial displays at the Village. The Observer press, type cases, compositor’s tools to compose the handset type, an imposing stone, portable presses, and the editor’s desk and typewriter, are installed with the proper lighting to get the job done.

The curatorial team is so pleased to have the exhibit come to life. The diorama tells the story of the most valuable historical record of our community development starting in 1907. All the Observer’s moves, new staff additions, and changes to ownership are documented in the published form, but it is the Observer’s artefacts, the three-dimensional things, that shows  how much print technology has changed.

Picture a time when each word was laid out for printing. Each letter, punctuation, and space was inserted by hand. The paper was read twice before publication, once by the proof reader and once by the copy reader. No one ever read their own copy. If there were mistakes, it went back for corrections. The type setter had the hardest job, though. He had read his type upside down and left to right. Try it. It isn’t easy!

Did you know that the printing industry is where the phrase “Mind your ps and qs” came from? The lower case p and the lower case q are easily mixed up backwards!

The text in the newspaper was predominantly local. It was a time when the comings and goings of residents always made the news. So did “Fish biting hard for Canoe anglers” and when Maggie Burrell severed her three-year connection with the post office she was replaced by a man! J.F. Leonard. The same month the owners of Sam Hong Jan Restaurant (in Sam McGuire’s old cottage across from the store that bore his name) got into hot water when it was discovered that their building encroached on City property. Whose fault was that? More than a hundred years after the facts were published, this record is a super resource.

The newest exhibit at the Village was made possible by our partners at Shuswap Community Foundation, Hucul Printing Ltd, Shuswap Park Holdings (2013) Ltd., BC Gaming, and volunteers Doug Hlina, Deb Sturgeon, Greg Osadchuk, Ted McTaggart, Ian Tait, Dave Harper, and Dennis Zachernuk and the wonderful staff at the Village. Thank you all!