The vintage newspaper presses from the “Oak Lake News” are now displayed in a replica printing office along the street of the Homesteader’s Village.
The printing equipment was brought to Austin in 1975 from Oak Lake, but the building housing the equipment was in a deteriorating condition and it was felt could not be moved without disintegrating. The replica news office was built in the Homesteader’s Village in the winter of 1978.
In 1890, John Miller Bender started a printing and newspaper business which he named the “Oak Lake News”. Over the next twenty years, the business changed hands many times. Finally, in 1910, Thomas Rutherford Hogg of Walkerton, Ontario became the owner of the newspaper.
Mr. Hogg was the editor of the newspaper, his son Russell and Harry Freemantle were his assistants. Richard Tillett was the errand boy or “Printer’s Devil” as they were sometimes called. In 1916, Tony Ducharme joined the staff and learned the printing trade.
The paper was the source of national and international news because there were no radios or televisions. The editor held a very strong position in the community. Through his pen, he could alter civic policy and help to elect politicians. Most editors, however, attempted to promote the community as best they could for the life-blood of their paper was local advertising.
In 1941, the paper suffered its first blow. After 25 years, Tony Ducharme resigned. Lloyd Harrison came to learn the trade and then in 1947, John A. Ready of Boissevain joined the staff and he too learned the printing trade from Mr. Hogg.
In 1952, John Ready purchased the paper from Russell Hogg, but by 1954 he had left Oak Lake for employment with the Virden weekly “The Empire Advance” and ownership once again returned to Mr. Hogg.
Finally in 1961, after being associated with the “Oak Lake News” for 40 years, Russell Hogg had to sell out forced to give up his profession because of ill health.
John Hresavich of Neepawa bought the office and George Matheson edited the paper for 2 years. The last editor of the paper, Allen Marcombe, had trained with Russell Hogg and he kept it going through renting it from John Hresavich until February 1974.
The press had become antiquated and parts for the linotype became increasingly difficult to find. The office was closed and a chapter in Manitoba newspaper history concluded. Mr. Hresavich died in 1976 leaving the paper to Mr. Joe Morland of Churchill. Mr. Morland was responsible for donating the pioneer press to the Manitoba Agricultural Museum.