A Community Publication for over 90 years.
Paid Circulation of 1643!
Serving the towns of:
Ryley, Holden, Tofield and their surrounding areas.
A Brief History of the Tofield Mercury
By KERRY ANDERSON
The Tofield Mercury began publishing on Aug. 28, 1918 when the town’s businessmen recruited publisher William Worton to start up a newspaper after two other previous publications had shut down.
The first paper in Tofield was the Standard which began on Aug. 27, 1907 and ceased publication on May 10, 1917 when owner Robert N. Whillans moved to Peace River to establish the Peace River Standard. He operated there until 1924, when he moved to Denver, Colorado for health reasons and died in 1925.
Only a couple of months prior to Standard Press Ltd. moving from town, the Tofield Advertiser began publishing on March 29, 1917. Owner C.W. Barnes produced the Advertiser over a one year period and closed the paper after the March 14, 1918 issue.
From March until August of that year Tofield was without a newspaper, thus the search by local businessmen to recruit Worton.
William Worton was an enterprising man, who once worked with the Stony Plain Advertiser. His work in Tofield as editor and publisher of the Mercury went on for 33 years until his death in 1951.
While publishing the Mercury, he also started up and ran the Hay Lakes Times from 1925 to 1931, the Barrhead Views from 1928 to 1931, and a section in the Tofield Mercury called the Ryley Times which he began in 1946 (and it ran until 1967).
On Aug. 14, 1952 the Tofield Mercury ceased publication, but only for a week. The publication continued on Aug. 28, 1952 with publisher and editor Cliff Patterson, who ran the Mercury until Jan. 25, 1962 when he sold out to the Camrose Canadian.
Partner in the Canadian, George Meyer became publisher and editor in Tofield until 1966 when he moved on and former partner Chuck McLean acted as publisher, with Ed Clinton being the editor.
McLean had also purchased the Wetaskiwin Times and ran the three publications until 1985 when he sold the Times and Canadian to newspaper giant Bowes Publishing. He continued to operate the Mercury and eventually sold it to his daughter Anne Francoeur. The Sept. 13, 1988 issue of the Mercury reported McLean’s death at Gull Lake at the age of 69.
Francoeur sold the Tofield Mercury to partners Kerry Anderson, Rick Truss, Gary and Maryann Wolosinka and Shelley Rattray in 1999. Anderson and Truss also owned The Community Press from Sedgewick, Viking Weekly Review, and East Central Times; but the Wolosinkas handled administration in Tofield and Rattray was assigned as editor.
In 2005, Anderson bought out his partners and became sole proprietor of all the publications including the Mercury. He moved to an acreage in Lindbrook in July, 2005, with his wife Michelle and two sons Brennan and Garrett; and appointed Nicole Giasson editor and manager of the Tofield Mercury. In the fall of 2005, Anderson founded the Lamont Leader, and all the newspapers work hand in hand with one another to this day with Kerry’s son Eric.
In 2008, Nicole Giasson left the publication to pursue other interests, and was replaced by 25+ year industry veteran Patricia Harcourt, who assumed the Editor-in-Chief position.
Over the many years of existence, the Tofield Mercury has been on hand to report many incredible events such as: the 1912 gas discovery making Tofield “Gas City of Central Alberta”; the 1918 Spanish Flu pandemic; the passing of Dr. Jas. H. Tofield in 1918, for whom the town was named; the 1935 fire which levelled main street; the formation of the Tofield Chamber of Commerce in 1955; the 1966 installation of long distance phone service with no operator necessary; the opening of the Tofield Ag. Complex in 1972; details of the “Septic Tank Sam” murder investigation in 1977; the 1984 installation of cable television; and 100th anniversary celebrations in 2005; and so many more documented events, too numerous to mention.
(Most editions of The Tofield Mercury going back to 1918 are available to the public for viewing on microfilm at the Legislature Library in Edmonton. Bound books of the Tofield Mercury are also available for viewing by appointment at the Mercury office on Main Street, Tofield. These hard copy editions catalogue Tofield area events back to the 1950s).