Small town newspapers are different, a different breed of newspaper compared to their more illustrious cousins in the big cities.

They cover the intricacies of small town life, church bake sales, council news and little children selling lemonade (these budding Donald Trump’s charge up to $3 a cup, yet there are always a couple of front-page shots of these smiling kids every summer).

My local newspaper, The Free Press, has been in existence since 1898, covering all the major events in the Elk Valley. Ever since the town of Fernie was founded in 1898 the Free Press has been there to document it all.

Over the intervening years the Free Press has covered floods, fires and the growth of Fernie from a mining boomtown to the tourist hub it is today.

Published every Thursday the Free Press was founded by newspaperman G.G. Henderson who shipped a print press across Canada to Fernie.

No train station or freight depot has been established in Fernie at the time, and his press was brusquely dumped into two feet of snow.

However, for me, the best part of my local newspaper is a segment called the RCMP Elk Valley Crime Report.

The Fernie Free Press publishes short,sharp snippets complied by the local RCMP. Structured in date order, these snapshots give readers an insight into crime in Fernie and the Elk Valley.

Fernie Police don't like like these tough coppers from Toronto

Fernie Police don't like like these tough coppers from Toronto - Credit: Toronto History

Its genius is the simplicity of it all. Nothing is too trivial to make the Fernie Crime Report. Take for example the latest edition of the Fernie Free Press.

Saturday, September 1

In Fernie at 4.28pm, there was a theft of artificial stone bricks from a residence.

Sunday, September 2

In Fernie at 9.13pm police attended a well-being check. All was fine.

Of course some of these reports warrant more explanation.

Tuesday, September 4

In Grasmere at 5.06pm police received a call from here advising her husband sent a non-emergency transmittal from his SPOT device.

All very exciting so far…

The man was located and he had locked himself out of his vehicle leaving himself stranded.

OK, maybe not…

This award-winning local newspaper offers great coverage of local events – check out the sports section for Fernie Ghostriders news – yet I’m drawn, inexplicably, to the crime report. Will I recognise any of the crimes? Will some of them make me laugh out loud at the sheer ridiculousness of it all? Will I recognise friends as the perps? Or will some of them make me shake my head in disbelief that someone called the police for that?

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  • Turtle says

    This is what I’ve always found so sweet about local papers. It’s the stuff that sounds stupid and dull but that people actually want to know. They care more about who hit the car in their street than which country their government is going to bomb next. So cute…


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