Dear readers, a break from the tedium of Frasers, McFadyens, Dougalls, et al.
With a mixture of pride and humility, I congratulate the Puslinch Pioneer on its 35th anniversary this month.
Wot, you say? What is a Puslinch? And why does it have a Pioneer?
Puslinch is a township on the south end of Wellington County, south of Guelph, Ontario. It has almost two hundred years of history as an agrarian community, settled predominantly by Scots, with good pockets of Germanic and English natives. Enviable farms, churches, and villages grew. The inhabitants shared typical rural customs and traditions—maintained despite increasing 20th century pressures on three sides from Guelph, Hamilton, and Waterloo Region. Highway 401 came to intersect Puslinch; commercial gravel production flourished; commuters with city jobs began invading to find quiet homes; Guelph began annexing land for its own mushrooming satellites.
In 1976 two youngsters were surveying the vast vegetable garden my late father-in-law had lovingly cultivated on my century farm. Incomers, both of us. Grumbling about the lack of official council communications that affected local life. Grumbling about arms-length suspicion from our entrenched farming neighbours. We didn’t want to live in a bifurcated community. We wanted to signify our empathy for both tradition and the changing reality. Also, we were a bit giddy from liberal ingestion of anti-allergen medication. Late spring, you know.
The Puslinch Pioneer was born. As a newspaper circulating within the township, it aimed to bridge the conscious gap between “us and them.” We began with a $100 donation and a borrowed gestetner! Initially, suspicion deepened, if anything. But we learned a great deal about things agricultural, historical, and political. Running on a shoestring, we worked out delivery methods to township homes. We exposed some shady practices of the council and its administration. It took time for acceptance, ... not without controversy.
The ink flowed. Supporters emerged. Advertisers slowly overcame their shyness. We went to commercial printing. New reporters joined us. Editors changed from time to time.
Yes, the old-timers were right. The incomers did change the local demographic. But slowly, gradually, the newspaper’s advisory board began to reflect the “old” township names. Not only acceptance, but togetherness. Today the Puslinch Pioneer is a tradition in itself, a vital community organ. It’s the only newspaper in Ontario consistently operating with all volunteer personnel. Possibly in Canada.