The Brandon Sun - A history as old as Brandon itself
The Brandon Sun can look back on a steady growth which has paralleled that of the city itself.
Founded before more than 100 years ago -- before the city received a charter, The Sun, through a succession of owners, has been an integral part of Western Manitoba life as the city progressed from a tent-town in the land rush days of the 1880s to the thriving prairie community it is today. Thomas Greenway, of Exeter, Ont., struck the spark which ignited a flame of adventure in 31-year-old Will J. White.
With visions of the great prairies, linked to east and west by a gleaming ribbon of steel, urging him on, Will White travelled by rail, steamboat and foot to reach Brandon and establish The Sun.
How he set up shop and acquired the hand-press on which he cranked out the first issue of The Sun on Jan. 19, 1882, must remain a mystery, but it must have taken an optimistic foresight for him not to turn right around and go back to Ontario.
In his memoirs published in a 1927 "Oldtimers Edition" of The Sun the first publisher recalled "I soon reached Brandon. What! No building, nothing but tents? It looked for all the world like an army under canvas - at least that was all my vision took in at first glance. Tents formed the strong scene in the picture. But there were buildings - a few."
Conditions for founding a newspaper however, were good, and White was able to publish a four-page tabloid daily from a frame building on 12th Street. At some time in the next few years the daily publication was suspended, and for a few months the name C. H. Beaton appeared on the masthead as editor and publisher of the then weekly Sun. By the end of May, White returned from a trip to Eastern Canada with sufficient capital to regain control of the paper, which remained a weekly publication until he left the scene in 1897. Like Brandon, The Sun had expanded during Will White's 14 years, and the paper outgrew its original home and moved to Eighth Street.
With White's departure began a turbulent era in the history of The Sun during which a syndicate of prominent citizens provided financial support. The united strength of the group, though shifting in its personnel, assured the continuity of the newspaper in the transition period from the era of the original founder to the era of the Whitehead family.
The yellowing pages of a minute book tell the story. The first entry relates to a business meeting held Jan. 9, 1897, in which the name Western Publishing Company was adopted. G. D. Wilson was the provisional chairman.
Within the same year the board of directors made several momentous decisions. The first was the resolve to publish a daily paper rather than a weekly. Delivery arrangements were made to serve several communities throughout western Manitoba and steps were taken to obtain a telegraphic franchise with the CPR for outside news.
Leading citizens of the semi-pioneer community served as successive presidents of the board of directors. Among the names listed in office were those of James D. McGregor, later lieutenant-governor of Manitoba; Dr. M. S. Fraser, general practitioner and medical health officer for the city; A. C. Fraser, police and juvenile court magistrate; D. W. Beaubier, later MP for Brandon constituency; and Charles Whitehead, retired railway construction contractor and chairman of the General Hospital board for nearly two decades. Charles Whitehead later saw his son Joseph B., take over complete control of The Sun.
In 1903 J. B. Whitehead purchased the majority of shares, and in 1911 obtained sole control of the paper by purchasing the shares owned by Phillip Purcell, editor and part-owner.
During the years when Phil Purcell was at the helm, a frequent visitor to the office was son Gillis, later general manager of Canada's national news agency The Canadian Press.
Two years after becoming majority stockholder, in 1905, Mr. Whitehead secured a building permit for the building at 24 Tenth Street which housed The Sun until the firm moved to the former John Deere building at 501 Rosser Avenue, renovated to accommodate the newspaper at a cost of some $550,000.
J. B. Whitehead guided the destinies of The Sun until 1937 when ill health forced him to turn it over to son Ernest C. Whitehead, who had worked his way up in the paper after a 1913 start in the composing room.
E. C. Whitehead assumed full control of the paper on the death of his father in 1941, and held the reins of authority through a major post-war expansion which saw a rise in circulation from the 3,000 mark to well above the 11,000 mark at the time of his death in July, 1961.
His two sons, Joseph A. and Lewis D., were groomed to continue the strong family tradition of The Sun.
The elder son, Joseph, in his position as assistant general manager, was responsible for much of the modernization of the plant and printing processes that took place in 1952. But Joseph died, tragically and young, of polio in October 1953, at the age of 28.
Lewis D. Whitehead succeeded his father as editor and publisher in 1961, after serving on The Sun staff as proof reader, rewrite man, reporter and editorial page writer before taking up executive duties.
The newspaper went through a number of changes in the past couple of decades, including ownership. In December, 2001, the newspaper was bought from Thomson Newspapers by FP Canadian Newspapers Limited Partnership, a company founded by Ronald Stern and Bob Silver, two businessmen with strong Manitoba roots. Stern and Silver, both born and raised in Winnipeg, have been partners for 20 years in Western Glove Works and in other businesses, including two large newsprint mills in Alberta and Ontario. Stern is also the former publisher of Vancouver Magazine. Stern and Silver have picked up the challenges renewed the promise of the founder: We are pledged to betterment of the community.
Download the vector logo of the Brandon Sun brand designed by in Encapsulated PostScript (EPS) format. The current status of the logo is active, which means the logo is currently in use.