Cake mixed with tears Thursday in the Moose Jaw Times-Herald newsroom as staff, fans and even some long-retired newspaper carriers converged for a sombre celebration of the shuttered paper's more than century-old legacy.
Reporter Sarah Ladik — a late addition to the newsroom staff — said it felt like a wake.
"Today's a goodbye, a chance to say thank you and goodbye to our readers, to the public, to the city," said Ladik.
The cake said it all, though, punctuated as it was with the time-honoured symbol used by print journalists to mark the end of a story: -30-
Life after printing
The Times-Herald's printing history stretches back to even before the turn of the 20th century. The paper began as a weekly called the Moose Jaw Times in 1889. It went daily in 1906.
Publisher Roger Holmes announced last month that that legacy would end two centuries later, in 2017.
The last issue of the paper was published Wednesday, with the office slated to close on Friday.
Holmes said the Moose Jaw Public Library has expressed interest in preserving the office's vast archive: printed copies of the paper dating back to the Second World War, and microfiche files going back even further.
Paper boys pay a visit
Among the citizens who joined Ladik and Holmes for Thursday's ceremony were Lorne Lindquist and Rick Evans.
Both worked as delivery boys for the paper, Lorne as far back as 1953. Rick's whole family took up the trade — his grandfather before him and his grandson after him, right until last summer.
Collecting money directly from customers was instructive, Evans remembered. His grandfather gave him a tip: if a customer gets behind on payments, show up at his job site on payday.
"That's what I did and I always got paid from there on," said Evans.
Said publisher Holmes: "He tells me it was the best job he could possibly have to teach him how to run a business."
The news Moose Jaw deserves
Holmes said people came into the newspaper office to buy several copies of the final issue as keepsakes. Local newsstands were pecked over too, he said.
Both he and Ladik believe someone will fill up the news-gathering gap left by the Times-Herald, Moose Jaw's only newspaper.
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Ladik just hopes it's a legitimate source of news for the community of over 32,000 people.
"My only wish is that the community of Moose Jaw holds whatever comes in to play that role as accountable as we hope that they have been holding us," she said.
"I hope that people question it, people don't just think, 'OK, this is the news, this is all we can get.'
"Moose Jaw, you deserve a good, daily source of news."