Rufus, new editor of the Cowichan Leader, in his Duncan office

Rufus in an office

This photo is 100 years old. The calendar, showing 8 July (1912 or 1913), hangs above the editor’s desk at the Cowichan Leader, on Station Street, Duncan, BC. This was Rufus’s office, his lair – evidently a place where women seldom trod, its organized disorder humming with energy and sophomoric enthusiasm.

It’s a wonderful photo – a book in itself. Too bad the definition isn’t good enough to read what it was he’d just tossed in the bin. How long had he been a journalist at this point?

Either two or three years, depending on which year this was. Here’s a picture he had taken at about the same time.

E 5 Rufus portrait 1910-11

He looks intense, doesn’t he?

‘Intense’ sums him up at that time. Most issues were either black or white for him – not much in between. Mature judgment would take him a while to develop.

F 6 1912 New appearance of Leader

This was the header of the newspaper, I suppose.

Yes – it was his header – he introduced it at Christmas 1912, along with this tagline:

Here shall the Press the People’s right maintain,
Unawed by influence and unbribed by gain.

Not much doubt about that, is there? I mean, it’s saying that the Leader will tell it like it is, and nuts to you if don’t happen to like it!

That’s about it – that was Rufus in 1912.

And did he ‘reap the whirlwind’?

Oh yes – a whirlwind a week became his modus operandi! He fell out with everybody. It must have been pretty stressful for him, but he always figured it would benefit him in the long run.

How did he make that out?

On the principle that all publicity is good publicity. If people were becoming used to hearing about his outrageous muckraking, then at least they knew who he was. He reckoned it would get him known – half the battle for the ambitious journalist.

But the Leader was only a rural weekly – how were they going to hear about him?

Rufus had thought of that. For instance, when he was getting after the CPR for poor service on the Esquimalt and Nanaimo Railway – owned by CPR – he used to mail marked copies of the Leader to CPR executives, nation wide – including Sir Thomas Shaughnessy, the boss!

Did he get a reaction?

Yes indeed – Beasley, the local CPR boss, was getting the heat from the higher-ups. He came to Rufus’s office in Duncan to have it out. He ranted and raved, called Rufus ‘an insolent cub’ and told him he needed a good thrashing!

I imagine that story did the rounds.

Which was the whole point , of course. But you’ll have to buy the book to read the whole story. It should be out very soon.

4 thoughts on “Rufus, new editor of the Cowichan Leader, in his Duncan office

    1. well, there you are. It shows how much I know about newspapers. But how can you tell it was 1913? – from the picture we don’t know the day of the week.

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