Vintage newspapers provide interesting glimpse at the past

Published on February 25, 2017

Vintage newspapers and magazines like this one are more akin to time machines than some people realize.

©Submitted photo

Nicholas Mercer

Time travel and time machines has long been a central theme for science fiction for the better part of two centuries.

Ever since H.G. Wells penned “The Time Machine” in the late 1800s, there have been more than a couple of stories that revolve around moving between time periods.

Even regular folk tend to daydream or wish they could go back in time.

Alas, human technology has not caught up with our imagination, making it hard for any possible fluctuations in the space-time continuum.

It’s either that or time travel probably defies some physic law that governs the universe, although I’m not qualified enough to discuss that. Those questions should be directed to Bill Nye or Neil deGrasse Tyson.

When it comes to time travel, Marty McFly and Doc Brown are not walking through those doors.

So, what does this have to do with anything?

I mean you’ve read this far, I might as well tell you.

Well, depending on how you look at things, we really don’t have to look too far for less technological time machines.

In many cases, newspaper and magazines are more than enough to give us a glimpse into the past. Through their articles and pictures, there’s plenty to learn about where you come.

In my weekly classified deep dive, I stumbled across a post looking to sell a number of vintage newspapers and magazines.

They go back as far as September 1936. That’s an issue of the Family Herald and Weekly Star, hailed as “Canada’s National Farm Magazine” and published out of Montreal.

There’s copies of the Saturday Evening Post out of Indianapolis, McLean’s and Life magazines. Owned by York Harbour’s Linda McCarthy, the collection features editions of the Chronicle Herald of Halifax, N.S. from the 1950s.

Inside their pages are stories on the death of Franklin D. Roosevelt, Queen Elizabeth II and her ascension to the throne and the writings of famed Maritimes author Lucy Maude Montgomery.

The dozens of vintage tomes are in good shape for their age and belonged to McCarthy’s late husband. He collected many of them when the couple lived in Nova Scotia’s Annapolis Valley for several years.

“He loved nostalgia and had an interest in history,” said McCarthy.

What makes them so interesting is the glimpse into the past they afford us. A re-printing of a 1901 catalogue reveals clothing at the earliest evolutionary stage of what we term to be modern.

Much like many of the other pieces, nothing quite opens a door — besides a film of course — into the world as it existed before and during the world wars like the journalism found in those pages.

McCarthy was hoping to sell the impressive collection as a whole. Separating into pieces and selling them individually just wasn’t in the cards with her travel timetable coming to a close next week.

As of Thursday, there was an interested party and there was hope the entire thing could be moved by today.

-          Nicholas Mercer is the online editor with the Western Star. Time travel would be incredibly cool if only to help save you from wearing track pants for all of Grade 8. He can be reached at