The Consert Enterprise published weekly in Consort, Alberta reports an interesting history. As the west opened up following the turn of the 20th century, rail lines snaked their way across the prairies and little villages sprung up along these lines. They usually had a hotel or ‘stopping house’, cafe, livery barn, blacksmith, general store, hardware, bank, pool room, barber and a weekly newspaper. By the fall of 1912, the steel had reached Consort and on December 12th, 1912, the first copy of The Consort Enterprise was printed on equipment still on the flatcar at the station. Mr. Henry Oke had brought the necessary presses, cases of type, a stone and other articles from Foam Lake, Saskatchewan. He walked up town and distributed this single sheet among the people in the stores and on the streets.
By the next edition, December 19, 1912, he had found a building to house his equipment and The Consort Enterprise was truly in business. At first, the equipment was foot powered, then operated by a Lister engine until 1926, when electricity came to the town.In November of 1914, Mr. Oke sold the business to Mabel DeWolfe, who became the first woman to operate a weekly paper in Alberta. In 1921, her brother, Wilburn, who had assisted her since 1915, took over completely as Mabel wanted to marry Fred Mattoon and start her family.
Wilburn A. DeWolfe ran The Enterprise for the next 29 years and became known as a righteous and God-fearing man who fought drink and debauchery through the columns of his paper. His motto under the masthead was, “A Paper With A Mission and Without a Muzzle”. He lived up to that credo. The equipment was foot powered until 1926, when electricity came to the town.
The paper was sold to Charlie Scott in March of 1950. Mary Readman (Charlie Scott’s sister) started hand-setting type on January 23, 1950. In September 1956, Charlie rented the business to Arlos and Elsie Tkach who operated it until April 8, 1957, when Mary took over. Her husband, Bill soon left his job in the oil patch to come home and become a publisher and learn the job printing end of the business. Mary continued to act as editor and compositor. The Readmans saw the paper’s production evolve from setting type, making up pages, casting mats to the more modern Linotype, Compugraphics and finally computers. Mary and Bill, along with their daughter Carol Bruha, operated and expanded the paper together until July 4, 1998, when Bill died. Following Bill’s death, Carol’s husband Dave Bruha joined the newspaper.
Carol and Dave Bruha took over the Enterprise on Jauary 1st 2006, continuing the family tradition of publishing and printing in Consort.
In addition to the newspaper being the first in Alberta to be operated by a woman, The Consort Enterprise was among the first newspapers in Canada to embrace the new computer driven digital technology, leaving behind the waxer and pasteup templates in May of 1999. With computers fully entrenched in the Enterprise office, a museum was built in Consort to preserve the history and tools of the newspaper pioneers on the Alberta prairies. The opening of this museum is the culmination of a dream shared by Bill and Mary. It is completely equipped with all the machines and materials necessary to print a newspaper by the hot metal process. Some of the equipment to be found in the museum is the original brought from Foam Lake, Saskatchewan in 1912.
See more about the Consort Enterprise.