Thunder Bay

Dryden Observer, Northern Sun News cease publication

The presses at the Dryden Observer and Northern Sun News have stopped, it appears, for good.

Dryden Observer first published as Wabigoon Star in 1897

The front page of the Dryden Observer from July 25, 2018. The paper appears to have ceased publication with no new editions for over a month, and no website or social media updates since May, 2019. (Dryden Observer/Facebook)

The presses at the Dryden Observer and Red Lake's Northern Sun News have stopped, it appears, for good.

The two newspapers were owned by NorWest Printing and Publishing Group, based in Dryden, Ont. The Northern Sun News, which for the past year was printed as the back half of the Observer, reported on events in the Red Lake area.

No new editions have been seen in over a month, and the papers' websites and social media accounts have not been updated since May.

The papers served an important role in the community, said Dryden Mayor Greg Wilson, whose family owned the Dryden Observer from 1940 until 2015.

The Dryden Observer was originally published as the Wabigoon Star in 1897.

"We don't really want to lose our local sense of identity right?" said Wilson, noting that while local radio does a great job of covering events, the medium of the newspaper was important for community event coverage.

"We think local sports and theatre and celebrations and so on, so, who's going to keep a record of our community in a way that nobody else is going to keep that?"

Wilson said he understands the newspaper industry is having a tough time, especially in small communities.

It's been a month since there's a been a new issue of the Dryden Observer or Northern Sun News. The web site and social media channels for the paper haven't been updated since May, and the owner of the publications can't be reached to provide more details. The CBC's Jeff Walters spoke about the situation with Dryden Mayor Greg Wilson, who has has a personal connection to the paper. 6:54

"That sense of local history is a piece that's being lost as well."

Wilson said even though Dryden still has local radio, what ended up in the paper may have been more in-depth than the radio could provide.

"The media is also supposed to inform the public, as well as hold us to account."

"What I'm going to miss is the media function of the newspaper, we've got accountability to the public," he said.

"I know as mayor, I appreciated having as much media covering us because I knew that it not only held me, but council, administration, it held everybody to a close account because the public knew exactly what is going on."

The Dryden Observer and Northern Sun News are the two latest papers in the northwest to cease publication.

The Ignace Driftwood stopped publishing after its owner and editor, Dennis Smyk stopped the paper due to health reasons in November 2018.

The Manitouwadge Echo also stopped publishing in 2012.

Editorial staff at the Dryden Observer posted online they have found other employment. Calls to the office were not answered.

About the Author

Jeff Walters

Reporter/Editor

Born and raised in Thunder Bay, Jeff is proud to work in his hometown, as well as throughout northwestern Ontario. Away from work, you can find him skiing (on water or snow), curling, out at the lake or flying.

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