Yearbook Ads – Douglas Printing

Adsotively is a blog dedicated to showcasing vintage ads from Edmonton. Brought to you by the team of graphic designers at Curio Studio, and fuelled by the Royal Alexandra Hospital yearbook archives, the ads we have collected reach back to the 1930s.

Over the course of Curio’s working relationship with the Royal Alexandra Hospital, we discovered a tucked-away archive of old yearbooks that gave a glimpse into the life of a nursing student during that time. In addition to the snapshots, autographs, quotes and personal notes to other friends in the program — there were also advertisements for local businesses who sponsored the publication of the yearbooks.

We were especially excited by the advertisements for local print shops, such as; Commercial Printers, Pazder Art and Engraving, Blythe Studios, McDermid Studios, and Douglas Printing. Their Advertisements were beautiful, featuring large illustrations, photographs of scenic spots in Edmonton, and classic hand-rendered typography.

Douglas Printing’s ads were especially beautiful. One of their advertisements in the Royal Alexandra Hospital yearbooks features an illustration of a “Vertical Miehle,” dubbed as a “modern press.” Perhaps, modern in the 1930s, but now long outdated printing press.

The Douglas Printing Company has changed hands over the years. That hasn’t changed the fact that they still have a passion for providing quality service for their clients, or their love for traditional printing techniques. We took some time to talk with them about their history, and their involvement with the Edmonton community. Douglas Printing was founded in 1902 by a quiet businessman, H.W.B. Douglas. It began as a three person operation, and has now grown to a full service commercial printing facility that employs 70 people. They now reside under the Burke Group umbrella. In the early days of Douglas Printing, their services included engraving, sign painting, bookbinding, illustration and photography. Although their business has matched the pace of technological advancement, they still rely upon their old printing presses. Sarah Stickland, design and marketing manager at Burke Group says, “they’re kind of like tanks, they don’t get any better, and they don’t break down.” The company still utilizes a Heidelberg press for die-cuts, and a one-color press which dates back to the early 20th century. These are heirloom machines.

“In the old advertising they talked about being on the forefront of technology changing… that’s still how we look at it today. We’re at the forefront of an ever changing industry.

Douglas Printing, now the Burke Group, provides services in; marketing, design, print, signage, and direct-mail campaigns. They still retain the core values established by the three-person operation over a century ago. “This company really started around the time Edmonton was built,” says Sarah, “It’s been here forever, and it will be here forever. It’s built around Edmonton, for Edmonton.” The Burke Group is invested in the Edmonton community. They love it for the entrepreneurship, camaraderie, and a small-town feel that makes the city what it is.


Check out this for more on the odd and wonderful ads found in nursing yearbooks. 

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