Historical newspapers are good resources for researching the political, social and cultural trends in local areas during specific historical periods. One of the interesting components are advertisements, which contain information about local businesses, and popular industries around the time. Like today, the papers had designed their advertisements to catch readers’ eyes and attract new customers. From more than 60,000 digitized newspaper issues in Open Collections, this post will introduce our favourite advertisements.

BC Historical Newspapers collection

BC Historical Newspapers collection contains 167 historical newspapers with more than 40,000 issues dated from 1859 to 1995. All of the titles were published in British Columbia.

June 14, 1894: “Horse Sense in a Few Words”

The Advance (Midway Dispatch) was a weekly newspaper published in Midway, BC (Fairview, BC for the first four months) between 1894 and 1904 (The Advance: 1898-1902; The Midway Dispatch: 1902-1904).

This advertisement by Riley & Donald, an agent company in Kelowna, BC for the McCormick Harvesting Machine Company in Chicago, IL, depicts a letter from a horse that complains about how heavy the mower is to pull and suggests that farmers buy McCormick’s lighter product.

The Advance, 1894-06-14.


June 10, 1916: “The telephone makes everyone your neighbor.”

The Cumberland Islander (1910-1931) was a weekly newspaper published in Cumberland, BC. We have digitized all 1,094 issues.

British Columbia Telephone Company (BC Tel) advertised its telephone service, which was relatively new at the time, 40 years following Alexander Graham Bell’s invention of the telephone near Brantford, ON in 1876.

Today we have the Internet that makes us feel like “neighbors”, 100 years after the publication of this advertisement!

The Islander, 1916-06-10.


September 14, 1911: “Let Mooney Do It”

Chilliwack Free Press was published from September 1911 to October 1912 in Chilliwack, BC.

Mooney Biscuit & Candy Company, based in Stratford, ON, advertises its biscuits. Using the Grand Trunk Railway of Canada running beside its factory, it exported its biscuits and chocolates to other areas of Canada. The advertisement emphasizes its freshness as a ready-made biscuit and appeal to those who do not have spare time for baking biscuits in their kitchen.

Chilliwack Free Press, 1911-09-14.


September 27, 1930: “Fall Steamship and Train Services”

The Alice Arm and Anyox Herald was published weekly in Alice Arm, BC between June 1921 and March 1935. We have 707 digitized issues.

The Canadian National Railways and Canadian National Steamship Company advertises both trains and steamship services by effectively using the vertically long rectangle area. Since the bird was flying at the top and ship is sailing at the bottom, the ad area itself looks like a scene in the ocean.

Herald, 1930-09-27.


Tairiku Nippo (The Continental News) collection

Tairiku Nippo (The Continental News) was published from 1907 until the day before Pearl Harbor in 1941 for Japanese Canadian communities in BC.

September 24, 1930: Hudson’s Bay Company

The following is the ad of Hudson’s Bay Company written in Japanese and announces its sales items for the upcoming Saturday.

Tairiku Nippo, 1930-09-30.


The Ubyssey

The Ubyssey is UBC’s student newspaper that started in October 1918. Until today, it has published the largest student paper in Western Canada, once a week during the school year. Open Collections have digitized more than 5,000 issues with a significant contribution from the Graduating Class 2002/03 as well as additional funding received from the President’s Office, The Ubyssey Publications Society and the UBC Library.

January 30, 1919: “Keep the happy memories of College days for all time.”

Bridgman’s Studio Limited (1915-1948) was a photo shooting studio located in Granville street owned by Archibald Thomas Reed Bridgman. This advertisement from January has a warm message to its audience and advertises its photo shooting services to UBC students.

The Ubyssey, 1919-01-30.


If you want to explore more newspaper advertisements, please visit our Open Collections and search our newspaper collections.




See also

According to the 2016 Census, 1.6% of the Vancouver metropolitan population identify as having Japanese ethnic origin.[i] The first wave of immigrants from Japan arrived in Canada in late 19th century, and the majority of them resided in British Columbia. As their primary information resource, a Japanese-Canadian newspaper, Tairiku Nippō (大陸日報, Continental Daily News) was published in Vancouver from 1907 until 1941. With generous support from Mr. Naomichi Nishimura, a Director of the Hikone Public Library in Japan, UBC Library created the microform edition in 1987[ii].

With the kind permission from the family of Yasushi Yamazaki (山崎寧), a publisher of the paper, and the metadata provided by Professor Norifumi Kawahara’s research team at Ritsumeikan University in Kyoto, Japan, we have published more than 10,000 issues in Open Collections.


Launch of Vancouver’s Japanese-Canadian Newspaper

Tairiku Nippo was founded on June 22, 1907, in Vancouver by Dosa Iida (飯田道左).[iii] However, it faced financial difficulties within a year[iv], and Iida transferred the publication and management rights to Yamazaki in February 8, 1908.[v] With the exception of the issues published in 1907, UBC Library houses almost all of the original printed papers from 1908 until 1941.

The oldest paper in our collection, published in January 1, 1908, celebrated the new year with:

  • Japanese poetry (the second row from the top in pp.1, the fourth row in pp.3)
  • Opinion columns (from 3rd-7th rows in pp.1, 1st-3rd rows in pp.3),
  • Japan-related news (from 1st-3rd rows in pp.2)
  • Advertisements of local Japanese-Canadian companies (4th-7th rows in pp.2, 5th-7th rows in pp.3, pp.4).

The Continental News, 1908-01-01.


Contents of Tairiku Nippō

The newspaper is an important resource that captures the social lives of Japanese immigrants during this time period. It included news about social and political trends in Japan and the Japanese-Canadian community in British Columbia.

For instance, page 5 from March 18, 1922 has mixed information about:

  • Canada (e.g., Resignation of the prime minister in Manitoba),
  • the US (e.g., Funding support for Japanese female students at the University of Michigan),
  • Japan (e.g., An election in Shizuoka), and
  • Vancouver (e.g., An accident in interurban lines):

Tairku Nippo, 1922-03-18.


Japanese-Canadian Business Advertisements

You can also find out how Japanese-Canadian businesses had developed in Vancouver area from the advertisements. The following page from July 15, 1909, for instance, has an advertisement section from the third row to the eighth row. It includes hotels, restaurants, fisheries, apparels, laundry, import stores, bookstores, funeral services, detectives, and more:

The Continental News, 1909-07-15.


Reports of Wars

You can find articles and photographs about the World Wars in the paper. War reporting included not only Japanese and Canadian involvement, but also other countries. In July 15, 1940, page 5 reports the possibility of conscription for Japanese Canadians (right) with a photograph of a German tank (left).

Tairiku Nippo, 1940-07-15.


Page 3 from November 13, 1941 has a photo of Japanese Marine:

Tairiku Nippo, 1941-11-13.


English section for Nisei (second-generation)

In 1935, Tairiku Nippō started to include English sections targeting young Nisei (second-generation Japanese-Canadians, 二世) whose primary language was English. The first English column, Oh So!, by Frank Watanabe appeared in November 1935:

Tairiku Nippo, 1935-11-18.


In the next month, a regular news summary started to appear twice a week, and increased its frequency to three times a week in 1936. The quotes from March 2, 1939 said:

Tairiku Nippo, 1939-03-02.


The Tairiku Nippo English section published try-weekly on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday, serves the second generation Japanese in Canada. Its columns are open to every second generation person or organization and it welcomes contributions at all times. (pp.8)

As the following page shows, the paper included its English section in the last page of the entire paper:

Tairiku Nippo, 1937-11-06.


Pearl Harbor and the End of Publishing

The newspaper was continuously published until December 6, 1941, the day before the Second World War started. Following Japan’s attack on Pearl Harbor, the British Columbia Security Commission suspended the operation of the paper[vi]. All Japanese Canadians were sent to internment camps, road camps and sugar beet farms[vii] (Images from the internment period can be found in the Japanese Canadian Photograph Collection).

The last issue of Tairiku Nippō, published in December 6, 1941, consisted of seven pages in Japanese and one page in English. It was mostly about the Second World War and US-Japan relationships,and discussed the need for US-Japan talks on its first page. While there were many peace-related terms, such as reconciliation (和解, Wakai) and peacekeeping (平和維持, Heiwa Iji), there was no foreshadowing of the imminent US-Japan war.

Tairiku Nippo, 1941-12-06.


After WWII ended, the paper was re-established on December 3, 1948, in Toronto as Tairiku Jihō (The Continental Times) by Yoriki and Midori Iwasaki, a niece of Yamazaki, and was superseded by Kanada Taimusu (The Canada Times) from April 1982 until May 1998 by Harry Kunio Taba.

See also

[i] “Census Profile, 2016 Census, Vancouver, British Columbia” Retrieved from: https://bit.ly/2Rqgbaf

[ii] Gonnami, T. (1989). Tairiku Nippo (The Continental Daily News), 1908-1941 on microfilm. Microform & Digitization Review, 18(1), 38-40. doi: 10.1515/mfir.1989.18.1.38

[iii] Gonnami, T. (1940). Buritisshu Koronbia Daigaku Toshokan shozo Nikkei Kanadajin shi kenkyu korekushon: kaiko to tenbo. [The Japanese Canadian research collection at UBC Library: Retrospect and prospect]. doi: 10.14288/1.0041728

[iv] Fujiwara, A. (2010). The myth of the Emperor and the Yamato race: The role of the Tairiku nippô in the promotion of Japanese-Canadian transnational ethnic identity in the 1920s and the 1930s. Journal of the Canadian Historical Association, 21(1), 37–58. doi: 10.7202/1003042ar

[v] Page 5 of February 11, 1908

[vi] Gonnami, T. (2001). Preservation projects of Japanese-Canadian materials at UBC Library. Journal of East Asian Libraries, 2001 (124:3), 1-18. Retrieved from https://scholarsarchive.byu.edu/jeal/vol2001/iss124/3

[vii] Japanese Canadians: From immigration to deportation (Library and Archives Canada)


Our digital collections cover a wide range of topics and disciplines that you can explore through Open Collections. Among our thousands of digital items, you can find materials to support your research, your teaching, and even your imagination. Below, we’ve selected a few of our collections that may be helpful when researching topics related to Asian Studies.


Rikuchū no kuni yōsan no zu. 6


There are many collections that can be used as a resource for historical Asian Studies, including:

  • Chinese Rare Books Collection: this collection is mainly composed of works from the Puban and Pang Jingtang. You can find census information, literature, as well as historical, political, and military documents from China covering the years 1368 to 1959.
  • Japanese Maps of the Tokugawa Era: this is the world’s largest collection of maps and guidebooks of the Tokugawa Era. It contains travel maps, guides and stunning woodblock prints. The collection is used as a resource at the ASIA 453: Japanese Travel Literature class. If you are curious to know more, check out our blog post Explore Open Collections: Japanese Maps of the Tokugawa Era.
  • Meiji at 150: the collection is part of the Meiji at 150 project, which was created to celebrate the 150 years since the start of the Meiji Era in Japan. The collection consists of materials produced during the period, including: woodblock prints, photographs, books, albums, and booklets. Visit the Meiji at 150 website to learn more about planned special events, lecture series, workshop series, podcast, and digital teaching resources.
  • One Hundred Poets: the collection consists of 74 books and 20 sets of cards of the Japanese poetry anthology “Hyakunin Isshu” (One Hundred Poets, One Poem Each). This anthology, edited by Fujiwara no Teika, became the most famous poetry anthology in Japan. Get to know about this collection, more specifically about the card sets, by checking out our blog post Utagaruta: a poetry game.


Family wedding portrait, Vancouver, B.C.


If you are interested in studying Japanese and Chinese life in Canada, then the following collections will be helpful:

  • Chinese Canadian Stories: composed of several sub-collections and fonds, this collection covers a wide range of topics, including Chinese Canadian military service, businesses, and social life in Canada.
  • The Chung Collection: the collection contains materials that can be comprised into three themes: British Columbia History; Immigration and Settlement; and the Canadian Pacific Railway Company. The collection has several materials relating to the Chinese community in British Columbia.
  • Yip Sang Collection: the collection contains Yip Sang’s personal and business-related materials. Yip Sang was an important businessman in the Chinese community in Vancouver and was often referred to as the “major of Chinatown”. Get to know more about him and his collection in our blog post Explore Open Collections: Yip Sang Collection.
  • Japanese Canadian Photograph Collection: this collection contains materials that registered the life of Japanese Canadians in British Columbia. The collection is a great resource for anyone researching about how Japanese Canadians were treated during the World War II.
  • Tairiku Nippo (Continental Daily News): this publication was an important information source for Japanese Canadians in British Columbia. It was published between 1907 and 1941, and is a valuable resource for studying the history of the Japanese Canadians before the World War II.

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