Preserving History Captured by Northumberland Today

Wally Keeler has written a letter to Council asking that they demand that Torstar and Postmedia restore access to the stories of our community no longer available due to their recent closure of 33 newspapers – including Northumberland Today (which has a history going back to 1831).  It will be on the Agenda at Monday’s council meeting. The Library or the Archives or even the Newspaper’s new owner will surely have hard copies for future historians to peruse but Wally’s focus is on the web site and the lost links from Facebook pages and the lost articles posted by local organizations.  Wally is quite eloquent in his plea for support from the Town.

Wally Keeler

He writes:

Ever since news went digital years ago, Cobourg residents could link a news story in Northumberland Today on their Facebook page or Twitter or other social media. Parents could post an article about little Johnny getting the winning shot or little Jane winning a science award. All the prom pictures, inaccessible. These were linked by family and friends. Lots of intersectional bonding developed over the years. All of Pete Fisher’s digital photographs of years of Cobourg events — inaccessible. All of the digital stories by Layton Dodge of pee wee, minor, major sports events — inaccessible.

In the normal affairs of humans, it is the news media that holds governments to account. This is a moment when governments should hold the news media to account.

But Wally is perhaps not aware of someone else who agrees with him and has proactively done something about it. In 1996 Brewster Kahle in San Francisco started to archive many of the Internet’s sites at a site called the Wayback Machine – he has saved 308 billion pages including many from  So in fact, starting in 2001 many (but certainly not all) pages were preserved although I see that there are many more snapshots in 2017 than in 2001.  Go here to access the Wayback Machine; then enter the URL of Northumberland Today ( ) or for that matter another site of your choice. Home pages on many dates are preserved plus many inner pages but fewer of these. It’s less than perfect but it’s more than nothing.

I like the quote in the FAQs at the Wayback machine site:

Why is the Internet Archive collecting sites from the Internet? What makes the information useful?
Most societies place importance on preserving artifacts of their culture and heritage. Without such artifacts, civilization has no memory and no mechanism to learn from its successes and failures. Our culture now produces more and more artifacts in digital form. The Archive’s mission is to help preserve those artifacts and create an Internet library for researchers, historians, and scholars.

That being said, looking at the old pages, in this case it’s hard for me to see the cultural value – perhaps one needs to be a historian; but then maybe the hard copies will be enough for them.

Staff don’t have a recommended action for Wally’s letter – maybe that’s what they recommend: do nothing?



Click to Notify me of
Jason Beatty

Thanks for taking up the cause Wally. It’s something I hadn’t even thought of until seeing this post and it would be a shame if this information was lost.

Wally Keeler

Thank you kindly Jason. It would be nice if some pseudonyms had such good grace and generosity of spirit. Comments like yours are most encouraging. It helps with the decision to approach other local councils in Northumberland. Cobourg Town Council has taken the lead in this regard, and I think it is my responsibility to pursue it.

Wally Keeler

The waybackmachine has saved 308 billion web pages. Sounds impressive, but let’s contextualize this number. Is it 308 billion out of how many trillions of web pages? Northumberland Today (NT) at five issues a week, less long weekends, etc, published approximately 240 issues per year. Below are the years that waybackmachine saved NT and the number of issues that were saved for each particular year followed by the annual percentage saved. 2001 – 3 – 1% 2002 – 10 – 4% 2003 – 15 – 6.5% 2004 – 11 – 5% 2005 – 11—5% 2006 – 16 – 7% 2007 – 15 – 6.5% 2008 – 3 – 1% 2009 – 27 – 12% 2010 – 33 – 14% 2011 – 25 – 11% 2012 – 35 – 15% 2013 – 135 – 57% 2014 – 28 – 12% 2015 – 17 – 7% 2016 – 65 – 28% 2017 – 210 – 87% The redirect code was applied Dec 1. Average percentage of NT saved over 17 years is 16%, less than one in five. Very anemic results. It’s better than nuttin’. Btw, I was aware of the waybackmachine’s existence; techies usually are, but the average Uncle George or… Read more »


Btw, I was aware of the waybackmachine’s existence; techies usually are, but the average Uncle George or Aunt Millie who know how to open email and click on a link sent to them by the family about their niece or nephew, are more likely to not know about the waybackmachine. It is a device for elites, and then there is everyone else.

You once accused someone on here of having a condescending attitude. How do you expect “everyone else” to get behind you (the elite) on this project now that you’ve defined them as Ma, Pa Kettle.
Besides, I would ask them to restore the archives before I demanded them to.

Wally Keeler

UUUUUUUU, social faux pas. UUUUUUUU. As if I ever cared what a pseudonym has to say. PRZT! The sound of Frenchy’s comment entering the atmosphere.


Maybe you’re right. Maybe no one cares what pseudonyms have to say, not even pseudonym 422-902-510.
“Canada’s most astute literary journals”… heh, heh, heh

Wally Keeler

Obviously you have zero respect for peoples government account numbers. The only point of your comments is malice, your personal malice towards me. Do you honestly think you are serving the public in any manner here? You are a pseudonym who has done absolutely nothing for the Town of Cobourg.

Wally Keeler

Frenchy sez “Canada’s most astute literary journals”… heh, heh, heh

It is obvious that you know zero about Canadian literature. What have you ever done to improve the Town of Cobourg, or are you just a vindictive grump gripe and groan?


Interesting how pseudonyms don’t spend an inordinate amount of time stroaking their own inflated egos.

Wally Keeler

Another comment that fails to benefit the Town of Cobourg. Just the usual grump groan and grip of mini egos.


To appreciate Wally’s argument and recommendation, click-on the link to his excellent 1-page letter at the bottom of John’s message above.
It should be easy and very low cost for the publisher to turn web-access back on, at least for some reasonable period of time. Wally is right in thinking that Cobourg Council is the best party to petition the publisher.
I can’t think of any reason for them not to.


Turning their website back on would be great but… Would doing so actually restore all of the previously published material? If it would then everything has already been captured (minus the last few weeks of NT’s existence) by the Wayback Machine in previous crawls of their website.

Wally Keeler

Thank you Warren. You have it correct. There are grumps who are cynical about everything and never take any initiative to better the Town of Cobourg. They have no fresh ideas, no creativity. They are dime-a-dozen armchair critics — unimaginative bores. Over 17 year the waybackmachine captured only 16%, less than one out of five. That is the result of ALL the crawls over 17 years. Quite an anemic result. Very inadequate.

Wally Keeler

The interesting thing Warren is that there are those who claim, “everything has already been captured (minus the last few weeks of NT’s existence) by the Wayback Machine in previous crawls of their website.”

That assertion is completely false. It is fake. Only 16%, less than one out of five was captured by crawls. Leave to a pseudonym to post fake news.


To say that the Wayback Machine has captured less than 16% of the content is disingenuous. Yes, it captured less than 16% of the daily home pages. However, it captured far more than 16% of the content; the entire site’s content doesn’t change every day. If, as you imply, all content did change every day then turning the site back on would be completely useless since you would only be restoring one day’s content. Wally, please think prior to penning utter nonsense such as “That assertion is completely false. It is fake. Only 16%, less than one out of five was captured by crawls. Leave to a pseudonym to post fake news”

Wally Keeler

Your assertions are without foundation. Provide how you calculated it and provide details for each given year. I did that. So can you. So get off yer buttttt. However, your whole comment above doesn’t mean post-nutritive disposal substance, because the focus was to convince Town Council to pass a motion unanimously and I achieved my goal. This, of course, lead to tv radio interviews. CHEX-TV came in the early morning of Wednesday. Later in the afternoon Torstar responded by informing that the archives would be restored “in the near future.” There ya go. All your petty nit-picking is worthless in the greater scheme of things. Once again, I stepped up the plate and scored. Meanwhile, Dubious sits on their rump without imagination, bereft of new ideas, doing nothing but moan, groan and foam at the mouth. Matter of fact, you are so highly moral that you think it is funny when someone impersonates another. Malice, of course. Leave it to a pseudonym to post useless news.


Thank you for your polite, thoughtful and eloquently presented remarks. I assumed that the purpose of your address to Council was to ensure that historical material was preserved. From your comments I now understand that your objective was to bolster your flawed notions of self-worth. Without your address to Council everything that was on the website a few days prior to the demise of Northumberland Today was already preserved on You merely succeeded in wasting the resources of Council, CHEX and everyone else who listened to your irrelevancies.

Wally Keeler

Provide the url, mouthpiece.. show us an example of northumberland today at Your big on mouthiness but never seem to provide details. Btw, what have you done to benefit the Town oh great unimaginative one? I got fresh ideas — you got stale ideas, if any.

Wally Keeler

I invite everyone to click on and try to locate the 17 years of on-line Northumberland Today. Dubious makes the stupid claim that all 17 years is preserved there.

I will give the adjective known as Dubious (not even the substance of a noun, but an airy adjective) $100.00 if they can prove that 17 years of on-line Northumberland Today is at “”

The dreary adjective known as Dubious claims “…everything that was on the website a few days prior to the demise of Northumberland Today was already preserved on

$100.00 So Dubious, put up or shut up. I’ll be generous and give you three days to do it.

Btw, I was at, aka waybackmachine, and they preserved 16%, just as I had brought forward in my address to Town Council.

Anything that comes from your keyboard knows that it is of Dubious quality, aka fake news.


It is logically impossible to prove that there is nothing missing. Perhaps you can provide a brief description of something that was on the Northumberland Today website on a particular date, say 30 November 2017, as a test of what I wrote.

Wally Keeler

DUBIOUS said “…everything that was on the website a few days prior to the demise of Northumberland Today was already preserved on”

That is the claim you asserted, so prove it. Put up or shut up. I’m not here to help you get the $100.00 offer. You want it, then prove it, EARN it, or shut up with your unfounded fake news. Everyone on the blog is waiting with anticipation for your proof. I tested what I wrote, so you do your own test of your own stupid assertion.


You just don’t get it! The fact that YOU can’t find something online merely proves that either your search skills are lacking or it actually isn’t there. There is no point in wasting time “talking” to anyone who doesn’t understand that obvious fact.

do tell

What took you so long to figure that out? It’s been painfully obvious to many of us for a long time.

R. A . Gorcey

A society that loses the record of the mistakes of its past is condemned to repeat them.