The Recorder & Times:

200 Years of Printing History

Between November 2020 and October 2021, The Brockville Museum put on a temporary exhibit “The Recorder & Times: 200 Years of Printing History 1821-2021” marking the paper’s 200th anniversary. We’ve made some elements of this exhibit available online, including a selection of the objects that were on display in the physical exhibit.

This exhibit marks the occasion of the newspaper’s 200 anniversary (January 2021) and takes a behind-the-scenes look at the history of the local newspaper, including printing technology and the notable characters that once passed through the news- and printing- rooms, like Betty MacDowell, Stu Paterson, and Hunter Grant, among others. Through objects, images, and stories, the exhibit traces the paper’s 200-year evolution and invites visitors to reminisce about a time when the newspaper was king.

This virtual version of the physical exhibit is much scaled down, offering a peek at the objects pulled from our collection.

Washington Press c1851

A hand letterpress manufactured by R. Hoe in New York. It was used by the Brockville Recorder, though may have first been used by the British Whig in Kingston. A hand letterpress utilizes relief printing: individual letters are set, inked, and then paper is pressed against the inked letters by moving the hand lever, to produce a page of text. This letterpress is operated by hand.

Lubrication Tool

Used to clean ink off of type used on a Washington Hand Press.

Slug Cutter c1940

Used in letterpress printing to cut metal slugs to proper length for spacing when printing.

Printing Plate, unknown date

Used in the Recorder Printing Company Ltd printing department

Cylindrical Metal Stereotype Plate, 1953

This plate makes up the third stage in a 3 step relief printing process: 1- letters and words are locked into a flat page (in negative), 2- the locked page is put into a machine where a papier-mâché -like material is pressed down on it with enormous force; 3- this paper-like product is curved into a half-barrel shape and molten lead is sprayed against it, creating this cylindrical metal plate. Paper rolled over the inked plates will pick up the positive image.

Souvenir Pamphlet, 100th Anniversary, 1921

The Recorder was established in Brockville in 1821 by Chauncey Beach.

Ownership of the paper passed through William Buell Jr, David Wylie, Thaddeus Leavitt, SS Southworth, and George Perry Graham over the next hundred years.

It was Thaddeus Leavitt who started the rival Brockville Times in 1883.

In 1918 the Recorder merged with the Times.

In 1921 the paper celebrated its 100th anniversary.

The plaque pictured on this pamphlet is still on the former Recorder & Times building on King St.

Souvenir Pamphlet, 125th Anniversary, 1946

When George P. Graham died in 1943, his wife Caroline took over (until her death in 1946). Granddaughter, Helen Grant then runs the paper until her death in 1958 at which time it is passed to her husband, Findlay Maclean.

Souvenir Plate, 150th Anniversary, 1971

Findlay Maclean dies in 1968, leaving Malcolm “Mac” MacNaughton to serve as president of the company from 1968 to c1972. He helped manage the business as the executor for the estate of Helen Grant and Findlay Maclean until the Grant/Maclean children, Hunter, Beverley, and Victoria could take over around 1972.

Hunter Grant and sister Beverley Perry ran the paper until financial pressures brought on its sale to SunMedia in 1998.

Press Card, 1942, Thomas Cossitt

Thomas Cossitt was born in Brockville in 1923. He attended St. Alban’s School for Boys in Brockville and later graduated from Trinity College in Toronto. During his summer vacations he worked as a student reporter for the Brockville Recorder & Times. In 1972, Tom was elected as the Member of Parliament for Leeds County until his death in 1982.

Newsprint Jacket

This jacket was owned by Charles Stuart Paterson who worked at the Recorder and Times from 1946-1996.

Paterson was born in Kingston in 1923 and came to Brockville to work in radio, starting the first local radio news service. He joined The Recorder and Times in 1946 specializing in municipal affairs. He became Assistant Advertising Manager in 1949 and became Manager in 1956. He retired in 1996 and died in 2012.

Underwood Typewriter

This typewritter was also owned by Charles Stuart Paterson who worked at the Recorder and Times from 1946-1996.

Scissors used by Jerry O'Grady

Jerry O’Grady was the Recorder & Times wire editor. In the “hot type” era, the Canadian press wire came in on a teletype machine, and printed on rolls. Each time there was a new item, the machine would ding.

Jerry would use these scissors to cut off the items and assign them into categories such as news features, special interest etc.

Coin dispenser, c1959

Coin dispenser used by paperboys for the Recorder & Times.

Subscription Card, 1967

Weekly subscription payment card for the 1967 Recorder and Times newspaper.

In 1824 the Recorder had 300 subscribers. In 1971 it reached a circulation of 11,000. The daily circulation in 2014 was 6,000.

Recorder and Times exhibit

We hope you’ve enjoyed this peek at our Recorder and Times exhibit. Through this virtual medium we’ve covered just a small selection of some of the technology, history, and people of the Recorder and Times.

You can also browse our online database to see more objects from our collection.

Hope to see you in person soon. Stay safe.