A moment in history: June 5, 1920

A moment in history: June 5, 1920

· The Pulse

On this day in 1920, the construction of a new home for the Edmonton Journal was underway.

The Journal has long been the city's largest newspaper. But in 1903, when its first edition rolled off the presses, it was an underdog. John MacPherson, Arthur Moore, and J.W. Cunningham founded the paper as a rival to the more established Edmonton Bulletin, which had been publishing since 1880. With no dedicated building, the Journal printed its first edition in the back of a fruit store.

It didn't take long for the fledgling paper to find an audience. The Journal quickly acquired the Edmonton Post and was run for the early part of the century from a leased building on 101 Street and 102 Avenue.

By 1920, the paper had grown enough that a new building was needed. Construction began on a larger facility on the edge of Bellamy Hill. The new building was designed by architect William Blakey, who designed many other Edmonton landmarks, including the Garneau Theatre and the Royal Alexandra Hospital. The Journal's new home was to be constructed out of steel and reinforced concrete, and finished in brick and stone. It was built to house the newsroom, offices, and production facilities needed to print the paper. An article the Journal published in 1920 makes special note of a large balcony on the front of the building, designed for speeches and other announcements on election nights.

While waiting for the new building, Journal staff continued to work from the leased space on 102 Avenue — even as an extension of the Tegler Building next door was built overtop of them. The paper moved into its new home in 1921.

In 1928, a fire broke out in the building. It was a small blaze and normally would not have been much of a threat. But the fire arrived when the city was having mechanical issues with its water pump houses. That meant firefighters had to wait more than an hour before they were able to turn on the hoses. By that time, the fire had substantially damaged the Journal building. Luckily, the rival Edmonton Bulletin offered the Journal the use of its printing facilities while building repairs were completed.

Edmonton continued to grow throughout the rest of the century, and so did the Journal. The 1920 building saw several expansions over the years. A new printing plant was built in 1980 in the city's east end. Still, with a growing staff and the adoption of computers, the old Journal building was eventually no longer suitable.

Construction of a new building began in the 1980s, and it was built in phases. The first phase was built alongside the 1920 building. Once everything had been moved into the newest building, in 1990, the old location was demolished to make room for the second phase. Parts of the original brick structure were incorporated into the new complex.

The millennium marked a tougher time for newspapers, including the Journal. Revenues dropped and newsrooms shrank. In 2015, Postmedia, the Journal's parent company, acquired the Edmonton Sun and combined the operations of the two papers. Eventually, the old Edmonton Sun building was closed and sold.

Today, like many newspapers, the future of the Journal is less than certain. Last week, Postmedia finalized the sale of three papers in Manitoba and Ontario.

This clipping was found on Vintage Edmonton, a daily look at Edmonton's history from armchair archivist @revRecluse of @VintageEdmonton.