A Real Eye Opener!

Bob Edwards, who passed away on November 14, 1922, was not what you would call a man of great distinction, and yet he was once voted the most colourful pioneer of western Canada.

Coat of arms of Wetaskiwin
Coat of arms of Wetaskiwin (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Edwards was born in Edinburgh, Scotland, and moved to Canada in 1894. He founded a newspaper at Wetaskiwin in the Northwest Territories which, according to him, had “287 souls and three total 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.

Edwards’ most famous publication, Eye Opener, originated at High River in 1902. Soon afterwards 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.”

Another was “Mrs. Alex F. Muggsy, one of the most delightful West End Chatelainers, has notified her friends that her usual Friday musical is called off for this week.  Her husband, old man Muggsy, has been entertaining his own friends with a boozical for a change and is in an ugly mood.”

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 prohibitionists 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

“The difference between a friend and an acquaintance is that a friend helps where an acquaintance merely advises.” – Robert C. Edwards, 1916

“if you want work well done, select a busy man — the other kind has no time.” – Robert C. Edwards, 1922

“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

To read more of his quotes, I highly suggest visiting Quoteland. To read more about Bob Edwards, I suggest Dictionary of Canadian Biography Online, and the Canadian Encyclopedia. If you would like a book to read, I suggest Eye Opener Bob: The Story of Bob Edwards..



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