Speaker: Ron Verzuh
Printer’s Devils is a 30-year social history of the smelter city of Trail, B.C. My talk will feature several major events that shaped the attitudes of Trailites through the influence of the weekly Trail Creek News renamed the Trail News.
I will provide brief biographical sketches of the six editors that guided the weekly from 1895 to 1925 when it became a daily. Like many pioneer journalists, these men (and one woman) often began their newspaper careers as printer’s devils, the term used to describe a press assistant. Printing lore suggests that he, and it was almost always a he, was sometimes said to create mischief for the chief printer. Famous ones included a former prime minister of Canada.
Trail’s editors also often generated mischief with sassy editorials, racy news items and coverage of local confrontations and calamities. The book encompasses snapshots of the home front during the First World War, the 1917 smelter strike, the 1918 flu pandemic, and the grisly murder of a local nurse.
is a writer, historian, and documentary filmmaker. He was born in Trail and worked at the smelter in his youth. He holds a PhD in history from Simon Fraser University and is on the board of the BC Historical Federation.
Ron is an accomplished author. In addition to his book Printer's Devils - The Feisty Pioneer Newspaper That Shaped the History of British Columbia’s Smelter City 1895–1925
, published by Caitlin Press, he is the author of Smelter Wars: A Rebellious Red Trade Union Fights for Its Life in Wartime Western Canada
(Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2022). His other books include Radical Rag: The Pioneer Labour Press in Canada
, and Underground Times: Canada’s Flower-Child Revolutionaries
He is the producer of the award-winning short film Joe Hill’s Secret Canadian Hideout and Codename Project 9, the story of Trail’s participation in the making of the atomic bomb during the Second World War. His work has appeared in academic journals, magazines, newspapers and on web sites.