Eye Opener

14 Nov
City of Wetaskiwin Weclome Sign

City of Wetaskiwin Weclome Sign (Photo credit: wetaskiwin.tomorrow)


Bob Edwards, who passed away on November 14, 1923, was not what you would call a man of great distinction, and yet he was once voted the most colourful pioneer of western Canada.


Edwards was born in Edinburgh, Scotland. He moved to Canada in 1894. He founded a newspaper at Wetaskiwin in the Northwest Territories which, according to him, had “287 souls and three abstainers.” He had wanted to call his paper Wetaskiwin Bottling Works because it was sure to be a “corker” but instead settled for Wetaskiwin Free Lance. It had the distinction of being the first newspaper published between Calgary and Edmonton.


Edward’s most famous publication, Eye Opener, originated at High River in 1902. Soon hereafter he moved it to Calgary and it began to gain a national circulation.


Bob Edwards had no respect for people in high places. For instance, his definition of a statesman was a “dead politician, and what this country needs is more of them”.


The Eye Opener often contained a column of social notes the whole country waited to read. A typical item would be “The family of Mr. And Mrs W. S. Stott, 11th Avenue West, all had mumps this week. A swell time was had. Mr. Stott will not be able to deliver his address at the Rotary convention, much to the relief of those who have heard him speak.”


Edwards was a heavy drinker, and it is said that liquor interests offered him money to support their cause before Alberta voted on prohibition in 1915. The prohibit ironists also went to see him and asked for his support. Edwards asked them how much money they would pay, but they replied that they did not have any money. He replied, “That settles it. I’ll be with you. The next issue of the paper will be for your cause.”


Edwards fought for many worthwhile causes ahead of his time. They included provincial rights, conservation of soil, trees, and water, votes for women, senate reform, and even hospital benefits and old age pensions.


People are always ready to admit a man’s ability after he gets there  — Robert C. Edwards, 1912


It is well that there is no one without a fault for he would not have a friend in the world — Robert C. Edwards, 1915


It is as easy to recall an unkind word as it is to draw back the bullet after firing a gun.   — Robert C. Edwards, 1916



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3 responses to “Eye Opener

  1. seeker

    January 8, 2013 at 10:07 pm

    I wonder who were the 3 who abstain. Obviously no Edward.

    • tkmorin

      January 8, 2013 at 10:57 pm

      I wonder that too … He seems to have been quite a character! Fun to write about, anyways.


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