A Brief History of the Observer

There was no shortage of historical milestones in 1996. It was a leap year with big expectations. 1996 was the International Year for the Eradication of Poverty – no easy feat.


There were plenty of debuts in the early part of the year leading up to the creation of The Observer. The first clamshell flip phone (Motorola StarTAC) goes on sale. The first genetically modified foods hit grocery shelves. The first surface photos of Pluto are captured by the Hubble Space Telescope. RENT opens off-broadway, Tupac Shakur releases “All Eyez On Me”, Howard Stern premieres on radio and Shawn Michaels beats Brett Hart for the WWF title in Wrestlemania XII.


The events of 1996 were the foundation for what would become one of the best community newspapers in Canada, and it would be created in Elmira, Ontario.


The Elmira Maple Syrup Festival is world renowned. It’s now a Guinness Book Record Holder as the World’s Largest One-Day Maple Syrup Festival. In 1996, they were preparing to celebrate their 32nd year, and The Observer was preparing to make their debut at the Festival.


After a successful launch, the plan was to publish weekly. We had a few deficiencies in our plan: no budget, no bankroll, no long-term advertising contracts and only three people to cover the news, sell and create ads and produce the newspaper. Youthful spirit and a drive to succeed didn’t present too many opportunities for second thought. Failure wasn’t an option. The enormity of what we would eventually accomplish with The Observer can only be comprehended after reflecting the two decades it took to get to where we are now. We’re looking for many more years of serving our communities.