Old Time Hockey Rivalry. “I also remember," Mr. Dolan recalls, "being sent to Wiarton, on a special coach, to cover a hockey game. I used to send telephone bulletins back to the office, but this night, the town went berserk — they lost — and the men at the livery stable wouldn't let me use the telephone. When we got back to the coach on the siding, we found all the windows had been stoned, and we were also snowed in. I made it back to Stratford in time to leave the next day for Montreal where I was to cover the Grand Trunk apprentices' game. I wrote the story in a Chinese restaurant, sent it back with someone going to Stratford, then stayed in Montreal for the weekend.”
In 1916, when Tom Dolan left school, he accepted a job in The Beacon circulation department. Pay was $6 a week, and the young Mr. Dolan was required to buy a pair of long pants. In his new $3 pants, he collected subscription accounts. “Our family paid 10 cents a week but they were a year behind in payment," he says.
In that same year, when “the reportorial staff enlisted," Mr. Dolan took over as the paper's only reporter, filling the position of the one man who left for the war. The paper at that time was owned by W. M. O'Beirne, who was the father of Mrs. K. H. Crane, 1 Erie St. Papers were printed on an eight-page, flatbed press; William A. Ewart was shop foreman at the time.
Shortly before The Beacon and The Herald were amalgamated in May, 1923, The Beacon was sold to W. J. Taylor, a Woodstock publisher, who sold it in a short time to L. H. Dingman, of St. Thomas, then principal owner of The Stratford Herald. “For a while, the paper was printed at both shops, but eventually all the work was done at 108 Ontario St., which is still the home of The Beacon-Herald." Note: The newspaper is now located at 59 Lorne Avenue East.
In 1927, the paper replaced its old flatbed presses with a 24-page rotary press, bought in Fall River Mass. One of the old flatbeds went to serve a Chinese daily paper in Toronto, the other to Bogota, Colombia. The old flatbed press and the better rotary press were followed in 1952 by a Wood 40-page, all-color press, which serves the newspaper today. The late, Mr. David Simpson, then mayor of the city, pressed the button to start the press rolling in June 1952.
“There was great rivalry between the two papers before they amalgamated," Mr. Dolan recalls. "In 1922, after we had not published for three days because of a terrific sleet storm, we got a Ford gasoline engine from Fred Heimrich, hooked it to our presses, and, despite the fact there were no lights or phones, printed a paper. We scooped The Herald, but they came out when the power came on, saying their equipment was too modern to run with a Ford engine."
"The Beacon-Herald building was gutted by fire Nov. 15, 1935. It was evening. We immediately divided our staff, sending the mechanical staff and some editorial personnel to The St. Thomas Times-Journal, and some reporters and advertising staff to a vacant store across the street. We were less than half an hour late on our deliveries next day after going to press in St. Thomas. The papers were brought to Stratford daily for about five weeks." Source: Stratford Beacon Herald, November 20, 1966.
Addendum: Tom Dolan had an amazing memory for detail and maintained an extensive filing system during his long and important service to the city and community. His many papers are now part of the Stratford-Perth Archives inventory Sourced by Gord Conroy