Williams Lake is a young town in an old setting.
By the mid-1860s, the future of the original town seemed assured. The new stipendiary magistrate for the Cariboo had made its headquarters here. There was a flour mill, sawmill, and B.C.'s first distillery here. All that was needed was the approaching Cariboo Highway.
Then disaster struck. The road bypassed the settlement. The courthouse was abandoned, the post office moved to Barkerville, and the valley was left to sleep for 50 years until another mode of transportation helped establish the 'new' Williams Lake village. In 1919, rails of the Pacific Great Eastern (now CN Rail) reached the townsite and surveyors were already at work laying out streets and lots in the wheat fields. In 1929 Williams Lake incorporated as a village and in October 1930, the first issue of the Williams Lake Tribune appeared. Editor and proprietor was the late E.P. Cotton, a printer by trade.
The newspaper was operated by Mr. Cotton for 10 years and in 1940 was sold to Chilcotin rancher George Washington Renner, who immigrated to the Cariboo from the U.S. in 1918. His decision to buy the newspaper probably stemmed from his interest in politics. During his tenure he was actively engaged in Liberal party work.
In January 1950, ownership again changed, with Clive Stangoe starting his long association with the Tribune. At the time he was the youngest publisher in the province and the first publisher of the Tribune with editorial experience. The Tribune became recognized for its editorial content and appearance, something successive publishers and editors have worked to maintain.
In the late 1960s Stangoe sold the newspaper to Northwest Publications and continued as publisher. In 1969 Northwest Publications put the newspaper up for sale. Alan Black, then an executive with NorthWest Publications, suggested to Stangoe that they go into partnership and buy the paper. Stangoe agreed.
In 1972, the decision was made to go twice-weekly.
In 1975 Alan Black's son David bought the newspaper and started building what is now Black Press. The Williams Lake Tribune is where David Black began his newspaper career.
In 1989, the Tribune launched The Sunday Shopper. This free market distribution title was launched to counteract a competing "good news" newspaper. While its competition has since folded, the Weekend edition and its parent The Tribune, continue to thrive.
David Black now lives in Victoria and retains ownership. The Interior North head office remains in Williams Lake, which is also home to the northern press centre for the company.
Former Tribune publisher Lorie Williston is president of Interior North and continues to live in Williams Lake.
In May 2011 Lisa Bowering became publisher and advertising manager. She and editor Erin Hitchcock continue to follow in Stangoe's footsteps to maintain the editorial integrity of the newspaper, while continuing to foster strong relationships with readers and advertisers alike.
The Tribune and its press centre employs 45 full-time and part-time workers.
The Tribune is now a thrice-weekly newspaper, publishing a paid subscription tabloid Tuesday and Thursday and the Tribune Weekend (free product) on Friday. Both products can now be viewed in their entirety via wltribune.com.
The Tribune,which has won more than 100 provincial and national awards, is one of the oldest continuously operating businesses in Williams Lake and celebrated its 80th anniversary in 2010.
Your Community News Team