oldest business in Caledonia is The Grand
River Sachem. It began in 1856 when Thomas Messenger came from Cayuga
to start a newspaper in Caledonia. At the time he was publishing the
Cayuga Sachem and was ready to expand his publishing interests. Until
November of that same year, Messenger published under the banner, The
Caledonia Advertiser. He then sold the Cayuga Sachem and
claimed the Sachem name for his Caledonia paper.
As a publisher he had strong convictions and did not
hesitate to print them publicly. "He is a freeman whom the truth makes
free and all are slaves besides" was added to the banner in 1858. That
quotation and the Sachem name remains with the Caledonia newspaper to this
In many ways Sachem was an appropriate name for
its founder who also took on "Sachem" as a nickname. A Sachem was a Chief
among the Indian tribes whose duties included carrying the news home from
meetings with other clans and tribes. A Sachem was known to be one with
wisdom who was carefully selected for the position by the clan mother.
early writers at the Sachem used the experience developed in
Caledonia as the foundation for building their careers. Brick Pomeroy went
on to become a famous columnist with the New York World and wrote a
popular column titled "Words of Wisdom". His motto was "fearless and
incorruptible". James Fedro learned to set type so fast at the Sachem
that he was believed to be the fastest hand compositor in America. He
went to the United States to expand his opportunities, but later came back
to Caledonia and ended his days in the Sachem office in the 1920ís.
Thomas Messenger owned the newspaper until his passing
in 1875. Previous to his death, a man by the name of
W.T. Sawle had arrived from Buffalo via the Grand River. He had heard
there was an opening at the Grand River Sachem. This would
lead to the Sawle line of ownership. Henry B. Sawle, W.T.ís brother,
bought the newspaper in 1882 and when he died in
1923, his second wife Mary Florence took over. She was known to be one of
the first women editors and publishers in Canada.
In 1927 the young Harrison Martindale, began working
for Mrs. Sawle. The Martindale line of ownership began when he and his
brother Arrell purchased the Sachem in 1945. Harrison and his son Chester
co-published from 1972 until Chesterís untimely death in
1980. His wife Barbara took over his co-publishing duties. Harrison
retired in 1981, but remained on the masthead as
Publisher Emeritus up until his death early in 1995.
May of 1982 the Sachem entered a new era. It became
the sister paper to live other newspapers owned by Otter Publishing of
Tillsonburg. Another transition took place when Otter Publishing was sold
in 1987 to the Newfoundland Capital Corporation (N.C.C.),
owners also of the Robinson Blackmore Group of thirteen papers in
Newfoundland. Corporate owner of varied enterprises, the N.C.C. was on its
way to ownership of fifteen papers in Ontario from Wingham to Delhi to
The Sachem office is still located in the
building erected by Messenger in 1865 to house his new newspaper. The
first Sachem building was on Caithness Street West on the north
side. Until 1985 the newspaper and job printing were
one. Today the Sachem printing is owned by Pressmanís Printing of
Caledonia, who also own the building. Since 1992 the newspaper has been
independently owned by a group of shareholders in the community. Barbara
Martindale returned as publisher in 1993.
Today the Grand River Sachem is not the
only newspaper covering the communityís news. The twenty-year-old
Regional News This Week also has an office in town and
distributes its newspapers to residents on a weekly basis.