Dutton Advance newspaper
by James L. McCallum
© 2003 Elgin County Branch of the Ontario Genealogical Society
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Dutton Advance Index
The first newspaper to be published in the community of Dutton was a weekly called the Dutton Enterprise, which was started by W. F. Phelps in December 1881. It was a two-paged, eight column newspaper. In 1885, his brother, N. F. Phelps took over the paper until January 1889, when R. Sutherland ran it for the remainder of its operation. On November 12, 1891, the goodwill and subscription list of the Enterprise was purchased by the Dutton Advance.
The Dutton Advance began publication with its first issue on February 28, 1889. It was founded by M. S. Smith and J. D. Blue, who operated it together for nearly forty years. Mr. Smith had formerly been employed with the Dutton Enterprise, while Mr. Blue was principal of the Dutton Public School.
In 1928, Mr. Blue retired from the newspaper, and Bertram Smith, son of M. S. Smith, returned to Dutton to become associated with his father. Bertram had learned the printing business at the Advance office, and afterwards had worked in Ontario and Western Canada.
In January 1932, M. S. Smith retired and his son Bertram Smith became sole publisher until May 1943 when Herb C. Campbell assumed ownership. Mr. Campbell had been employed for ten years with the Advance, but had been editor and publisher of the Port Elgin Times.
Under Mr. Campbell, the Advance won first prize for general excellence from the Ontario Weekly Newspapers Association in 1954 and 1961, and in a national competition, won first prize for the best front page in 1943-1944. Mr. Campbell was still publisher of the paper in 1967.
The first issue of the Dutton Advance consisted of four pages, five columns in width. Type was hand set and printing was done on a hand- generated press. Because of the slowness of setting type and the printing of the paper, a Toronto printing company printed four of the paper’s inside pages, with much of the classified and display advertising on these pages. By 1944, only two pages of the Advance were printed in Toronto, and the practice was completely discontinued in 1949. Generally, the Dutton Advance consisted of eight pages, with most local news appearing on pages 1, 4, 5, and 8. By the 1960’s, the average copy contained 10 or 12 pages. The paper carried correspondents’ columns from the communities of Burwell’s Corners, Cowal, Iona, Iona Station, Largie-Campbellton, Lawrence Station, McBride’s, Shedden, Tyrconnell, Wallacetown, West Port Talbot, West Townline, and Willey’s Corners.
The above information was taken largely from two articles appearing in the Dutton Advance, in the issues of February 3, 1965, and July 12, 1967.
Type of Information Extracted for this Project
Items of greatest interest to genealogists found in this index are births, deaths, marriages, engagements, and anniversaries. Other items extracted deal with business and industry, major church events (cornerstone layings, openings, special anniversaries), and major fires. Items dealing with these topics are found at the back of this volume in an Appendix called “Local History Items”.
How the Database has been set up
A database has been created with seven column headings (abbreviations in brackets):
The abbreviations used for “EVENT” are as follows:
The “ADDITIONAL INFORMATION” column will include details such as date of death, age at death, date of birth, date of marriage, etc. For marriages or engagements, the spouse’s surname will be included for cross referencing purposes, if space allows. Please note that for marriages, a separate entry has been made for bride and groom, so you can search either one.
Where the maiden name of a spouse or maiden name of a mother is given in birth announcements and obituaries, a separate entry has been made using that maiden name. In the “Additional Information” column, the name of the main entry has been included for easy reference. In the “EVENT” column, the abbreviation “W” has been used to indicate “wife”; “P”, for parent, and “H” for husband, only in the case of a first husband’s name being mentioned. For obituaries of married women, if the maiden name was given, a separate entry has been made using her maiden name. The married name has been included in the “Additional Information” column for easy reference.
The microfilm collection of the Elgin County Archives, 450 Sunset Drive, St. Thomas, N5R 5V1 (519-631-1460) includes copies of the Dutton Advance from 1889 to 1998.
At the time of writing this introduction (April 2003), a complete set of microfilmed copies of the Dutton Advance is available for research at the Dutton Library, 236 Shackleton Street, Dutton, Ontario, N0L 1J0. (519) 762-2780. Additional copies, though not a complete set, are also available at the Elgin County Archives.. In both cases, it is advisable to phone ahead for microfilm reader/printer availability.