The earliest newspaper in Tillsonburg was The Herald and General Advertiser for the Counties of Oxford, Norfolk and Elgin. This weekly newspaper was published every Thursday morning and was operated by its proprietor Thomas A. MacNamara, starting in 1862. MacNamara had previously published a newspaper in Ingersoll known as the Oxford Herald before arriving in Tillsonburg. He would eventually move to London, Ontario where he tried his hand once again at publishing a local newspaper and later a journal published in the temperance interest.
Front page of "The Herald" newspaper, 1863 [courtesy of Annandale N.H.S. & Museum]
A year later William Strachan (W.S.) Law established the newspaper known as the Tillsonburg Observer. Born in Scotland, Law emigrated in 1853; first settling in Quebec where he worked in a government print shop, and then later Toronto, where he worked in the pressroom of the Toronto Leader.
William Strachan Law [courtesy of Annandale N.H.S. & Museum]
Law would eventually work at both the Woodstock Review and the Ingersoll Chronicle, before arriving in Tillsonburg in 1863, to become sole proprietor of the weekly Tillsonburg Observer. That same year he began to sell stationary, books, sewing machines and other fancy goods. According to the 1870-71 Oxford Gazetteer and Directory, it was one of the finest book and stationary stores in the county. His offices, which also served as a lending library of two hundred volumes of standard novels, was first located in the house on the northeast corner of Oxford and Harvey Streets. It would later move to a fine new building on the corner of Broadway and Brock, near O’Neill’s Hotel. The offices of the Observer would move several more times before establishing itself in a building on Broadway, which later also housed the Tillsonburg News.
Advertisement for the Observer Printing House [courtesy of Annandale N.H.S. & Museum]
"The Observer Annual" for 1891 - 1892 [courtesy of Annandale N.H.S. & Museum]
Advertisement for W.S. Law, printer and bookseller, in Tillsonburg. From the 1870-71 County Directory.
A view of the Observer Printing Office in Tillsonburg [courtesy of Annandale N.H.S. & Museum]
In 1877, Norman Bruce Dresser and William McGuire declared their partnership as printers and publishers of a weekly newspaper under the name of Dresser & McGuire. By 1881, Dresser operated as the sole proprietor of what was now called the Tillsonburg Liberal from his offices on Broadway. That same year William McGuire established a new business along with Joseph Lumley of Montreal as painters and publishers, under the name W. McGuire & Co.
William McGuire [courtesy of Annandale N.H.S. & Museum]