'A page in history turns': The last chance to hold a fresh copy of La Presse in your hands

After 134 years in print, with news coverage spanning the Montreal smallpox outbreak and the unveiling of the Montreal metro, one of Canada's most widely read newspapers has delivered its final version in print.

Founded in 1884, French-language daily started transition to digital in 2000

Starting in 2018, La Presse — one of Canada's most widely circulated newspapers — will be exclusively digital. (Jaela Bernstien/CBC)

After 134 years in print, with news coverage encompassing everything from the Montreal smallpox outbreak to the sinking of the Titanic, one of Canada's most widely read newspapers delivered its final print version on Saturday. 

In a special message inside the paper in both French and English, La Presse president Pierre-Elliot Levasseur thanked readers for their loyalty and said the decision to go exclusively digital was not taken lightly.

Under the headline "Une page d'histoire se tourne," which translates to "A page in history turns," Levasseur wrote that for nearly a decade, it's been clear that the traditional newspaper model was on its way out.

"We have to turn to more modern ways," he wrote in French, while adding "despite that, we waited as long as possible before putting an end to our printed version, more than four years after the launch of La Presse+."

The news outlet will continue to cover the news through its tablet app, La Presse+, as well as on its website.

Founded in 1884, the French-language newspaper was created by conservatives who were dissatisfied with then-prime minister John A. Macdonald. 

Trading in the traditional newspaper for digital means more flexibility, according to La Presse assistant editor and vice-president Éric Trottier.

"Paper is extremely rigid. If there's a major event overnight, whether it's the overthrow of an African leader, or an outbreak of war, or the death of someone important, or simply a Canadiens match in the West, we can make a second edition for 12:30 a.m. or even 12:35 a.m." Trottier said.

"But if it's later than that, we have penalties."

Without printing deadlines and the size constraints of a physical paper, La Presse's writers and artists are free to work late into the night.

In the final print edition of La Presse, the newspaper's president Pierre-Elliot Levasseur wrote that it's time to turn to more modern ways of sharing the news. (Jaela Bernstien/CBC)

In 2000, the paper launched its first website, Cyberpresse.ca, which later became LaPresse.ca.

According to Levasseur, 90 per cent of La Presse's advertising revenue now comes from its digital platforms.

A note enclosed in the final print issue thanks readers for their loyalty. (Jaela Bernstien/CBC)

With files from Radio-Canada