The dearly departed Winnipeg Tribune is getting a new lease on life online.
The Tribune — a metropolitan daily newspaper which shut down the presses and closed its doors on Aug. 27, 1980, after 90 years of publishing — has been fully digitized by the University of Manitoba’s archives and special collections.
The digitized Tribune, free for public access, will be officially launched on Wednesday at 11:45 a.m. at the Elizabeth Dafoe Library (25 Chancellors Cir.) on the U of M’s Fort Garry campus.
Dona Harvey, the last editor of the Tribune, will be on hand to introduce the digital archive. Harvey joined the Tribune in March 1976 as the first female managing editor of a metro daily in Canada. She was just 33 when she became the Tribune editor-in-chief in October 1977, also the first woman in Canada to hold that position at a metro daily newspaper.
"It’s wonderful to know that the Trib continues to live," the 74-year-old Harvey said. "Those who would discount newspapers in today’s society can’t begin to comprehend how important a role newspapers play in society.
"Newspapers are a daily chronicle of history of every topic under the sun. Newspapers are often the foundation of news that goes further, to radio and television stations and now, off to the World Wide Web."
Harvey said it is "a glorious development" there will be no charge to access the Tribune’s digital record, which includes the newspaper’s entire run starting from Jan. 28, 1890.
Shelley Sweeney, the head of archives and special collections, said it cost more than $500,000 and took four years of "intensive work" to go digital with the Tribune.
"It’s the most-used resource that we have, so it only made sense, from that point of view, to have it digitized so people could get access to it themselves," she said. "Within the archives, people would phone us, write us letters, send faxes, come in and ask us questions about things that were in the Winnipeg Tribune.
"The only way we could get access to it was either through indexes which we had created based on the original indexes that came with the Tribune or just to literally go through reel after reel of microfilm, and that was only if you had a reasonably firm date."
Sweeney said people will now be able to perform any sort of search they want to find stories and information from the past pages.
"If you digitize a newspaper, you are providing a method of getting into a subject so you can use the newspapers to start any search for any sort of significant activity or event that would have happened in Manitoba. It does give you that Manitoba view of external events, like national and international events," Sweeney said.
"This is free online, and can be accessed anywhere from any computer anywhere in the world."
Bob Holliday, a Tribune sports writer from 1978-80, said the old slogan "Winnipeg first" made it known as a community newspaper.
"I think it’s great. Anything that can help people look back in our history of any kind for free is absolutely fabulous," he said. "Some of our younger people who don’t know there was a Tribune and what we did. This will be great."
Updated on Tuesday, September 11, 2018 at 11:09 AM CDT: adds photos