Chris Goodsell was in the basement of his parents’ commercial building, moving furniture stored there for decades when he noticed a one of the wall panels was not screwed shut. A bit of plastic was poking out from the insulation.
“I reached in and pulled out this bag. I didn’t know if was an owner’s manual just tucked in the wall. I almost chucked it out, then I saw something from the Journal.”
Inside Goodsell found a trove of black and white photos and memorabilia from the early ’90s. A satirical letter hoped Canada is still an independent country and asked whether anyone still speaks English in Quebec in the year 2091. The package had been tucked behind the wall of a brand-new darkroom of a plucky regional newspaper, The Stanstead Journal, circa Nov. 1991.
The Stanstead Journal has not published since May 2019.
“It brought a bunch of memories back. The people in the pictures, I remember a few of them from when I was a kid,” said Goodsell. “My dad used to have his office in another part of the building. I was ten. It was an office building. I would be told to be quiet and stay out of there, especially on production day.”
Goodsell guesses everyone chose one keepsake to add. A book of matches from the Knowlton pub. A place mat from Chez Mimi. A menu from La Vielle Douane restaurant.
“I’m assuming they would order out to those guys when they were busy and working in the office. Back then that’s pre-social media, pre-internet. Everything was done by hand and they spent a lot of time in there, especially on production days.”
Goodsell remembers watching the reporters coming and going.
“The environment was always busy. They used to have an old scanner so they could hear the firefighters, the ambulance, the police. Big computers, big screens, typing up their articles.”
“It was very investigative. They would really follow up on issues. That is really lacking today.” Goodsell continued. “Ross Murray would get a lot of come-back when he covered a story. If you write a story in Montreal, you’re not going to see them at the grocery store or at the gas station twenty minutes later.”