Lueta Milton was one of Cloverdale’s first news correspondents, nearly a century before the Cloverdale Reporter began in 1996.
Milton began writing for the New Westminster Columbian newspaper in the 1890s, gleaning news items from around the town centre to include in her “Cloverdale Blossoms” column.
Between the Surrey Times’ short-lived run in 1895 and the Semiahmoo Gazette’s first issue in 1913, the people of Cloverdale relied on Lueta Milton’s column to keep them up to date.
Her news items were similar to what correspondents from neighbouring communities submitted to the paper. Most entries offered short, seasonal snapshots of what was the talk of the town that particular week. Meetings, dances, new businesses, sports events, and the various comings and goings of town life filled Milton’s columns.
She would write, for instance, when “three carloads of potatoes were shipped from here last week, by railway for the Kootenays, and two carloads of hay and grain for Westminster.” She’d let the whole of New Westminster know that “Cloverdale is looking up. Mrs. Hopkins has purchased a new bicycle, and Dr. Sutherland and Mr. Starr each have a new buggy.” Or that the Shannon boys “had quite a chase after a bear the other evening, which was bold enough to visit their vegetable garden in search of his supper.”
Although the majority of her entries were brief and unoffending, Milton did not hold back on criticizing the sexism of the time when it interfered with her newsgathering. She was, after all, writing for a newspaper 30 years before women were officially declared persons under Canadian law.
Milton wrote of an 1899 political meeting that took place in Surrey Centre, saying: “The political meeting held at Surrey Centre last night, we hear, was largely attended, but, as your correspondent has the misfortune to belong to the weaker sex, she had not the pleasure of being present. Had there been an invitation given the ladies, not only she, but several others, would have been glad to have availed themselves of it. Don’t you think, Mr. Editor, it would be well for B.C. to take a leaf out of Ontario’s book in this respect?”
Editor’s note: This story is third in a series on Women in Cloverdale, a special series on Cloverdale businesswomen, athletes, historical figures and politicians.
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