A Brief HistoryMany papers have served Lunenburg County since Henry Fisher began The Nova Scotia Farmer in 1863. Only The Progress Enterprise in Lunenburg, founded by E.I. Nash in 1876, and The Bulletin in Bridgewater, founded by Charles James Cragg in 1888, survived. They have served this area well for over 125 years.
These independent, paid subscription, community newspapers are still published on Wednesdays and are now owned by Lighthouse Publishing Limited in Bridgewater, Purchased by Margaret and Ralph Hennigar in the late 1960s and early 1970s the newspapers and printing business eventually became Lighthouse Publishing Limited. It is now one of the few remaining family-owned newspaper operations in Canada. Today, most newspapers are under group or chain ownership.
In recent years, many judges have named these papers the best, or among the top three in their classes, in both Atlantic Canada and in nation-wide competitions. As well, Lighthouse staff members have won countless individual awards for photography, news coverage, feature and editorial writing, advertising ideas, graphic design and community service.
For most of its life, home for The Bulletin was 86 Pleasant Street, on the hill directly behind the Post Office in Bridgewater. After “going offset” early in 1970, the newspapers were printed in Truro, then closer to home, in Kentville. In 1981 Lighthouse Publishing built an 8,000 square-foot plant and moved to 353 York Street, Bridgewater, in the new industrial park.
The new building contained the business office, make-up department, bindery, press room and a four-unit Harris V-15 web offset press, adding another 6,000 square feet of storage space in 1985. In 1997, it moved the press into that area and added a fifth unit for more flexibility and greater colour capacity.
Lighthouse Publishing made changes in Lunenburg as well. In 1983 it sold the job printing plant and building on Montague Street and moved its remaining editorial and business office into a small, new building two doors away. In 2001 the company replaced the siding on that building with shingles and installed some new windows so it would more closely fit in with the heritage buildings in Old Town Lunenburg, a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1995.
Today, the Tuesday Bridgewater Bulletin and Lunenburg Progress Enterprise have a combined circulation of about 10,500 and continue as the company's paid circulation flagships. The Lighthouse Log, published on Fridays, is now a 26,000 controlled circulation advertising vehicle distributed free throughout Lunenburg and Queens Counties. In addition to advertising, it carries numerous columns and feature photos.
In 1995 the Wednesday papers were redesigned by editor Vernon Oickle and his staff, and changed format from broadsheet to 11 x 17-inch tabloid, a move generally well-accepted by the community.
Lighthouse Publishing stays on the leading edge of industry technology. It gradually moved from the original hot lead make up to cut- and-paste layout and design, and then to full pagination. Now it has “gone digital” and has moved from computer to plate, rather than from computer to negative to plate.
Lynn Hennigar became president and general manager of Lighthouse Publishing in 1995, replacing her father, Ralph Hennigar, who is now retired. Marg Hennigar was a publisher, an award winning editorial writer and monthly columnist, until she died in December 2006.
Vernon Oickle manages the editorial department and is editor of the Bridgewater Bulletin. The company has between 45 and 50 employees.
For over 130 years these newspapers have provided an uninterrupted commentary on life in this area, dutifully recording the important historical data of these communities, such as births, marriages and deaths, achievements, successes and failures. Lighthouse newspapers offer the best advertising services to the community with solid local news coverage, interesting features and columns, thought provoking opinions and an open letters policy to encourage reader participation.
On May 3, 2011, The Bridgewater Bulletin and the Lunenburg Progress Enterprise merged to create The Lunenburg County Progress Bulletin.
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