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Issue 2015 #2

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Tending the Printing Presses

These must be the printing presses when spanking new

Printing of tracts, booklets, newsletters, etc., began in 1962 at Western Tract Mission. Up to that time, Mr. Elliott had been buying tracts from a number of other publishing sources. He then mailed them to the tract distributors for them to mail out according to his carefully thought out plan. But as the number of distributors rose to hundreds, even thousands of individuals - it seemed more feasible to self-publish their literature.

This developed into an absorbing business. We learn most of this from the photos we have found. In the first photo the presses seem to be sparkling new. In the second photo, they have dulled somewhat as they have become work-horses.

printing machines - well used looking

However, in almost every other photo, we see someone bent intently over the presses, either watching to make sure they were doing what they were meant to do, or repairing them.

Despite all that, 1000's of pieces of literature were printed, and sent around the world.

Wilf Bellamy and Russell Rice tending the presses  reams of printed pages

Over the years we are aware of at least the following workers, who were working at the mission as printers, most of them in a full-time role. The director, Russell Rice, Wilf Belamy, Werner Thiessen, Reuben Klassen, Ruth Magnus, Jake Klassen, Jake Hoeppner, Frank Porter, and Wayne Dingle.

Mel Anhorn fixing printer   hot off the press

At the Annual meeting in 1969, Ruth Magnus, who had to step into the printing work because they had no full-time printer, reported that they had printed 3 and a quarter million pieces of literature in 1967, and that had dropped to just 2 and a quarter million pieces in 1968. She was able to display some current tracts and booklets with the new colouring, as well as a Bible course on Romans. Ruth attributed the efficiency to the new printing equipment.

Ruth Magnus printing tracts Those years were the zenith of Western Tract Mission; the presses were printing catalogues for the bookstore which had started up, there was an active French work in Quebec, and the lending library by mail was still going strong. There were many taking correspondence Bible courses, including 88 international students from other countries.

In 1973 Mr. Rice reported a 300% increase in tracts printed and distributed. Wayne Dingle had come back to work as a printer, and printing increased. However, things wound down as the 1980's came. Key people retired or left and the presses were sold. The era of the printing presses came to an end.

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