Sunday, 14 June 2015

Spread the News

As you might imagine there were an astonishing variety of publications related to Canadian Football produced over the decades and one category of particular interest is the team issued newsletter, which could vary from a one page sheet to a small magazine (which were often on newsprint paper but not always). I believe that all of the nine classic CFL franchises issued these at one time or another although I do not have decent scans for every team, and some teams seem to have issued them a lot more frequently than others.

Above and below are four examples from the B.C. Lions. As you can see the names of the publications were often changed as they typically were initiated as a way to try and encourage and maintain fan interest, would be produced for a short while and then be discontinued.

These publications were normally distinct from pre-season prospectuses, annual team retrospectives and occasional newspaper supplements although sometimes there was some overlap.

The larger magazine format type of newsletters, such as those shown above tended to be issued in the seventies and eighties. Thanks to Stadan Collectibles for the scan of the Eskimo news magazine. These tend to come up on ebay from time to time and are usually pretty affordable,

As league and team finances wavered, the newsletters were usually scaled down (like the above Calgary examples) to keep the cost in check. Often these were automatically issued to team season ticket holders.

Of course the older the newsletter, the more difficult it is to acquire and the higher the price will be. The two examples above are both from Winnipeg which seemed to get on the newsletter bandwagon a fair bit earlier than most of the other teams, although that might just be the random luck of what has survived to the present.

The Roughriders are known to have issued newsletters but the only one I have a scan of was a special edition issued for the 1951 Grey Cup qualifying team. The other image is a very poor quality scan of a late fifties edition of the Double Blue News put out by the Argonauts.

One thing that is generally pretty constant about these magazines is that they did not usually last long, so most items you come across have early volume and issue numbers. This makes it difficult to establish how many of each publication were produced. But both the Argo News and the Alouette's Blitz newsletters were exceptions in that they were issued over several years.

The Rough Riders of course had their versions of the newsletters as well. The only Hamilton scan that I have is the very poor one shown below which probably dates from the nineties.

Finally here are two differently named issues from the Baltimore Colts/Stallions/Football Club for both years of the franchise's existence.

As digital and social media are exploited more and more by the teams to communicate with the fan base, the days of a physical printed newsletter are almost certainly behind us. I am not aware of any regular digital team issued newsletters currently being produced today, but certain related alumni organizations are producing PDF electronic newsletters available from their websites. Two of these are pictured below.

The tracking down and investigating these sorts of poorly documented CFL collectible items is definitely an interesting challenge and the vintage information each contains is historically significant. Ironically the collecting and preserving of team produced digital artifacts is probably practiced by hardly any collectors and it is those exact sorts of non-physical information repositories that might prove to be even harder to recover once they are taken out of regular digital circulation.


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