Canada’s oldest community newspaper acquires new publishers

Chris Fanning and Karen Valihora are the new publishers of Canada’s Oldest Community Newspaper, the Picton Gazette. The Cressy couple acquired the newspaper from the Morrison family earlier this month and intend to expand coverage and reestablish at Main Street office presence in the coming future. (Jason Parks/Gazette Staff)



The owners of the Picton Gazette, Prince Edward County’s historic community weekly published since 1830, are pleased to announce the sale of the newspaper their family has published for 46 years.

The Picton Gazette, first published as the Hallowell Free Press on Dec. 27, 1830was acquired by Earl and Jean Morrison in 1977 and helmed courageously by Mrs. Morrison, one of the only female newspaper publishers in Canada, upon Mr. Morrison’s untimely death in 1978.

Publishers Chris Fanning and Karen Valihora (Jason Parks/Gazette Staff)

Mrs. Morrison died in 2019 at age 97. Since that time, the Gazette has been managed by the Morrison adult children and a dedicated staff.

“It is with mixed feelings we announce the sale of a beloved family newspaper,” said the Morrison family. “But we are truly pleased to have found two committed new publishers who live in Prince Edward County and are dedicated to the Gazette’s continued success.”

Christopher Fanning and Karen Valihora, who live in Cressy, both teach English Literature, Chris at Queen’s University in Kingston, and Karen at York University in Toronto. They have five children, two in Toronto, and three enrolled at PECI. They approached the owners of the paper in 2022.

“We noticed the sale of the Gazette building, an institution on Main Street, and were worried about the future of the paper,” explained Ms. Valihora. “One of the things that drew us to the County was the Gazette. I remember one day shortly after we moved here, a picture of the high school play was on the front page, and it just drew me in, to the paper but also to the whole community.”

“I read this paper cover to cover every week, every story, ad, birthday, and obituary. We love the Gazette because it has a bit of everything in it, and, delivered to every home in the County, it plays a huge role in sustaining and building a sense of place.”

“Small local papers, as well as big ones, are in trouble around the world,” said Mr. Fanning. “Yet the local media in the County is thriving — the Gazette, our award-winning Radio station, County FM,, the Times. It’s a sign of the vitality of this community.”

“From the County Food Hub to The Royal Hotel, all the libraries and museums, the Back the Build Campaign, Loyalist College, Base 31, THRIVE, Shire Hall, the community theatre and arts groups, the Regent, the Chamber of Commerce and all the businesses it represents – look at everything that is happening here. We are just grateful for this opportunity to play a part in all of it.”

Ms. Valihora has a journalism background as a former editor of the McGill Daily.

“Those years were golden. I chose university life for many reasons but always missed the thrill of working on a newspaper,” she said. “To have a chance to engage a whole community – that is something.”

The new publishers plan to work with the staff of the paper to expand its coverage of council politics, planning and development, the arts, and local agriculture.

The Picton Gazette has such a long history,” said Mr. Fanning. “It reaches back to the early nineteenth century. The rise of the novel coincided with that of the newspaper. We know just how transformative a force it can be.”

Their first priority is new offices for the newspaper.

“Stay tuned,” said Valihora. “We are working on our new Main Street office space!”