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CZAS - Polish Press Ltd., 1914-2011
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- Polska Spółka Wydawnicza
- The Times
- The Polish Times
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CZAS (a.k.a. “Czas,” “The Times” or “The Polish Times”) is a Polish-language ethnic weekly newspaper established in Winnipeg in 1914. It is the oldest Polish-language newspaper in Canada. At the time of its establishment, Winnipeg was a central hub for Polish immigration to Canada. CZAS arose in response to a need in the Polish-Canadian community to connect with Polonia on the local, provincial, national, and international levels, and to obtain information on events happening in the local community and abroad. It helped the established Polish-Canadian community to stay connected and informed, while providing links to knowledge, advice, and resources--as well as a sense of belonging--for newly-arrived Polish immigrants. Prior to the establishment of CZAS, five other Polish-Canadian newspapers had been published in Winnipeg between 1904 and 1908, including Gazeta Katolicka (“The Catholic Weekly”), Głos Kanadyjski (“The Canadian Voice”), Prawda (“Truth”), Gazeta Polska (“The Polish Gazette”), and Echo Kanadyjskie (“The Canadian Echo”).
In 1913, under the guidance of Maks Major, the members of the Polish Gymnastic Association Sokol (Sokół) in Winnipeg established Gazeta Narodowa, which lasted only a few months. Major then began working with František (Frank or Franciszek) Dojacek, a Czech immigrant and bookseller based in Winnipeg’s North End neighbourhood. Dojacek, who spoke seven languages and saw the business potential in catering to the publication needs of Winnipeg’s Eastern European population, established the Polish National Publishing Company, under which CZAS was first published in 1915. CZAS advertised itself as “the only progressive Polish weekly in Canada” (“Jedyny Postępowy Tygodnik Polski w Kanadzie”).
CZAS was published by Canada North-West Publishing Company from 1915 to 1920 and by the National Press Limited between 1920 and 1931.
In 1930, some members of Winnipeg’s Polish community began to feel that their political and religious leanings were not being accurately presented via CZAS under Dojacek and its editors at the time. In response to the perceived need to better represent the Polish community’s interests and opinions, Polish immigrant Józef (Joseph) Kolt rallied members of the local Polish Winnipeg organizations Sokol and St. John’s Cantius with the hope of launching a new Polish-run press. However, this proved untenable as a result of the economic depression, which was responsible for the shuttering of Polish-language publications across North America. Frank Dojacek, who too was feeling the effects of the Depression, agreed to sell CZAS and all of his printing press equipment to the Polish Press Ltd., with Jozef Kolt serving as President of its Board of Directors. Polish Press Ltd. was officially launched on September 30, 1931.
Under new editor Julian Nowacki, CZAS under Polish Press Ltd. strove to maintain a politically and religiously neutral tone. The meeting minutes from October 1931 state that “after a thorough discussion, [it was agreed] that the character of CZAS be favorably inclined towards the working class - in matters of religion to be neutral.” (OPMA A-2017-4, Box 2, Folder 8). Jozef Kolt, meanwhile, helped to expand the newspaper’s readership by canvassing the local Polish community and even paying out of pocket to help cover expenses related to its publication and distribution. The economic crisis, political strife, and logistical problems related to its incorporation continually threatened Polish Press Ltd. and the publication of CZAS. Kolt enlisted the help of Winnipeg’s Polish community, including lawyer Bronisław Bernard (B.B.) Dubieński.
On October 31, 1933, the offices of CZAS were moved to 848 Main Street, Winnipeg.
Throughout the years, the writers and editors of CZAS tried, where possible, to present articles that were written with the goals of uniting Polonia and helping to generate positive connections, and tended to avoid divisive politics. Following the Second World War, a new wave of Polish immigrants helped keep CZAS operating. By 1975, the weekly newspaper had a readership of over 5,000.
In 1998, facing a decline in subscriptions and advertisers, the Board of Directors of Polish Press Ltd. met to discuss options for keeping the publication running. Lech Fulmyk, Chair of the Board of Directors of Polish Press Inc., resigned, followed by the remainder of the board. An interim board was elected to evaluate the possibility of maintaining CZAS, of which Krystyna Gajda became Chair. Polish Press Ltd. underwent some upheaval in this era due to staffing and office location changes, but managed to continue publication of CZAS, even laying out and arranging issues from the home of Krystyna and Bogumil Gajda. The publication changed from weekly to bi-weekly. The board continued to solicit advertisers to generate enough revenue to become self-sufficient. Around this time, the Polish Educational Society decided to sell its building at 1150 Main Street, from which CZAS had been operating. To keep running, the office was relocated to the Canadian Polish Congress building at 207 Cathedral Avenue in Winnipeg, and finally, to the Ogniwo Polish Museum building at 1417 Main Street in Winnipeg.
In June 2004, once again facing a decline in revenue, the Board of Directors of Polish Press Ltd. agreed to loan the name CZAS to Fakty Ltd. of Toronto, the publisher of Polish newspaper ZWIAZKOWIEC, in publication since 1933. It was agreed that Polish Press Ltd. would supply its subscription list, advertisers’ information, and distribution locations, while Fakty Inc. would bear the costs of production and general distribution. CZAS-ZWIAZKOWIEC began publication in July 2004.
The Polish Press Ltd. was formally dissolved in 2011 and the office on Main Street in Winnipeg was closed. CZAS-ZWIAZKOWIEC continues publication under Fakty Inc. as of 2018.
In 2003, a collection of bound CZAS newspapers for the years 1915 to 2003 was donated by the CZAS - Polish Press Ltd. executive to the Archives & Special Collections at the University of Manitoba in Winnipeg. Ogniwo Polish Museum holds bound volumes of CZAS for the years 1944, 1981, and 1986-2008.
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The authority record was created in March 2018 and uploaded in March 2020.
- Krystyna Gajda, in-person interview
- Ogniwo Polish Museum Archives A-2017-4
- "CZAS Almanach." Winnipeg: Czas Polish Press Ltd., 1974.
- Library and Archives Canada. "The Polish-Canadian Press: Historical Overview." March 2005. https://www.collectionscanada.gc.ca/multicultural/005007-205-e.htm
- University of Manitoba Archives & Special Collections. http://libguides.lib.umanitoba.ca/slavic_uniquecollections.