Being put through the mill

Having fled the UK for Newfoundland, I thought I'd left the Daily Mail behind. I couldn't have been more wrong.

In order to write this blog entry accurately, I have had to do some research. This is rare, I realise, but know your enemy and all that. It appears two brothers were responsible for establishing the Daily Mail (and the Evening Standard and Daily Mirror, although they jettisoned the latter when it became dangerously liberal. Its editor probably advocated votes for people whose parents weren't born in the Home Counties, or something equally outrageous). Despite such setbacks, Alfred and Harold Harmsworth became Lord Northcliffe and Lord Rothermere, respectively, rewarded by the British establishment for their hard work maintaining the conservative hierarchy.

In 1905, they were in need of a cheap supply of pulp for their cheap supply of inaccurate news. The forests of Newfoundland caught their eye, and a mill was established on the Exploits River. The Anglo-Newfoundland Development Corporation was founded with Robert G. Reid (the businessman who built Newfoundland's uselessly narrow-gauge railway) and around the mill grew the towns of Grand Falls and Windsor. Lord Northcliffe snuffed it in 1922, but Lord Rothermere carried things on and, for the next few decades, the Daily Mail was, literally, grown in Newfoundland.

As if all that wasn't bad enough, the current Lord Rothermere, the 4th, and the chairman of the Daily Mail group, has a foundation that has provided funds to Memorial University. I may actually be funded by the entity I hate most in all of Britain. Oh, the irony. If only Canada's favourite indie-popstress knew of it.

For two different perspectives on the significance of Grand Falls-Windsor and the mill, here are a couple of quotes:

'The mill would transform the region, and through the century bring it a level of prosperity unknown in most of Newfoundland.' (Kevin Major, As Near To Heaven By Sea, p. 293)

'In 1904, Alfred Harmsworth - later Lord Northcliffe - bought over 2,300 square miles of this forest to sustain his voracious halfpenny squib, the Daily Mail. ...Grand Falls was to be a place commensurate with its product' (John Gimlette, Theatre of Fish, p. 163).

Having seen the Grand Falls-Windsor website (which can only offer four reasons to visit the town, the fourth being that KPMG regard it as the fifth most cost-effective location to do business in Atlantic Canada*) I am more inclined to follow the Gimlette line of argument, but he is also an outsider, whereas Major has the Newfoundlanders to speak for.

*Gosh, where shall we go on holiday this year? Somewhere sunny, or historic, or scenic, or friendly? No, how about somewhere highly cost-effective? Yes, that sounds like the place for me!