The History of Long and Brier Islands

1936 The Movie “The Tiny Tattler”

by | Nov 16, 2021 | Brier Island, Central Grove, Long Island, Videos | 0 comments

I have already done a history on the Tiny Tattler for this site but not on the movie.

Central Grove in Digby County published Canada’s tiniest newspaper between 1933 and 1943.

         Every Thursday for ten years-from 1933 to 1943 the people of Central Grove would trade in their quarters for the latest issue of The Tiny Tattler, a newspaper run by locals Ivan Shortliffe and Rupert Cann. The paper claimed to be “Canada’s Smallest Newspaper,” and was recognized as such by the federal government at the time.

         The weekly publication was small but mighty. Its readership grew from eighteen to about five thousand over the ten-year span, and copies were sent as far away as Europe and South Africa. The Tiny Tattler certainly didn’t shy away from much, in their newspaper of September of 1938 they received a death threat when they published a story that exposed a rum running operation. (I will write about the rum-running on the Islands at a later date.)

This paper served an important local readership; however, it travelled across the continent and around the world. The Tiny Tattler was even featured on a pre-movie entertainment reel of the Associated Screen News, in 1938 that was circulated across Canada and as far away as the Philippines.

Ivan A. Shortliffe; (January 4th, 1919-April 6th, 1976)

Rupert Cann; (September 6th,  1918-October 18th, 1996)

In 1936 there was no TV’s and radio was just starting to be in homes, but very few could afford them, so a lot of people chose to go to a movie theatre if there was one nearby, for some entertainment. Talkies were just getting started with sound along with the picture in the late 20’s. So in 1936 when this movie clip was made it would have been very new technology. We are very fortunate that this movie has survived for us to look back at our community of 85 years ago.

Film representatives came to the Tiny Tattler saying they were going to put the Tattler in the news reels.

The Tiny Tattler; May 29th, 1935

Digby Courier; May 29th, 1936

The Tiny Tattler Goes On The Screen

         The Tiny Tattler, Canada’s smallest newspaper, published in Central Grove, Digby County, experienced one of the greatest thrills of its entire career on Wednesday of this week, when a camera-man from Montréal, arrived to make a story of this miniature publication into a motion picture.

         Several scenes were taken of Central Grove, and the outside of the Tattler building, and later with 4500 watts blazing in their faces, the editors of the Tiny Tattler “staged” the publishing of the paper, from the writing of the copy to preparing the papers for mailing.

         A little more than three years ago the first issue of the Tattler was published, only 18 copies being printed. this four-page 4 in. x 6 in. paper was well received by the public, and subscriptions began to “flow” in, Mr. Edward Blackford, of Tiverton, being the first subscriber. To date the Tattler has a circulation of 1000 copies and is rapidly growing, and not only is it growing in circulation, but also as an advertisement medium. About one year ago some motion picture men from Saint John, gave the Tiny Tattler an unexpected call. They had heard of this tiny paper and of his rapid progress, and they wanted the story for the screen. The Associated Screen, of Montréal, also heard of the Tattler, and consequently rushed a camera-man to Long Island. About 500 feet of film was used, and the total cost of getting the story on the screen was about $1000.

         Those taking part in the film were: Ivan A. Shortliffe, the editor; Rupert Cann, the assistant editor; J. J. Wallis. editor of the Digby Courier, who started the Tattler in business; Frank Delaney and C. S. Powell, of Central Grove, who helped to produce a fitting scene for the film.

This picture will be released in about three or four months, under the feature title, “Did You Know That?”, including several other Canadian facts. According to the camera-man about 50 exact prints of this picture will be made and will be shown all over the British Empire and the United States. It is hoped that this picture will be shown at the theaters on the Islands and Digby as soon as possible after it has been released.

Leta (my wife) and I have been researching for this movie clip for some time now and final found it. I did not know if it was possible that this movie was still around. I have taken it out of the original movie that is around eleven minutes long, I have also edited and upgraded the quality of the movie. The movie is called “Did You Know That?” is a group of other small clips put together to inform the movie goers of the time of things and places in Canada.

Although this movie is less than two minutes long it is good to see it and see what it was like then. It cost around $1000.00 then to make this movie with 500 feet of film. There were 50 copies made in 1936. This is one of those copies.


King George and Queen Elizabeth Watch the Movie

Digby Courier; May 26th 1939

The world’s smallest newspaper to be excepted by any government as second-class mail matter, the product of Ivan Shortliffe and Rupert Cann, who live at Central Grove, in this county, became the star of a royal movie, it is revealed in a list of the pictures provided for the entertainment of King George and Queen Elizabeth for their ocean voyage. Down to the shack on the Fundy island journeyed Associated  Screen News cameramen to take the picture shown on the Royal ship. Details of the little papers evolution were shown, with its owner-publisher writing copy, setting type and turning the little press. Closeup showed its social notes, editorial page and “The Quiet Hour” page, all on its six by four inch pages.

Below is some Photos that I have taken from the movie

The small building is the Tiny Tattler building. The house next to it belonged to Bertie and Annie Shortliffe, Ivan Shortliffe’s father and mother. The next house down the road belonged to Colman S. Powell, he was our Post Master at that time and the Post Office sat in his yard.

Road-side view of the second Tiny Tattler building. (This building was brought here and put in use on august 1934. (The first one was moved to Flour Cove to be used as a fish-house in April 1935.)

This second Tiny Tattler was later used as the Central Grove Post Office from 1945 to September 30th 1960. Annie Shortliffe was the Post Mistress. I can remember going to this Post Office in the 1950’s and picking up chickens in the mail, I doubt if that happens now.

Ivan at his desk editing the newspaper.

Ivan and Rupert

Ivan and Rupert getting the paper ready to ship.

Ivan and Rupert at the Central Grove Post Office. That is Colman Sanford Powell (Aug. 13th 1867-May 4th 1954) in the door-way of the Post Office. This Post Office was just down the road from the Tiny Tattler, on the corner of Flour Cove Road.

The Tiny Tattler ceased publication on Dominion Day, 1943, ten years and five months after it began as the innovative dream of Ivan Shortliffe and Rupert Cann during the Depression years. Rupert had handled the press since 1940 with the help of his sister, Winifred Cann, and others. Rupert had decided to volunteer for military service, and Ivan had accepted a job with The Halifax Herald. The paper had wrestled with many important issues, events, and concerns over its publication decade.

Front Page Challenge(1957-1996)

Fred Davis; Moderator

Pierre Burton; Panelist

Gordon Sinclair; Panelist

Betty Davis; Panelist

In the mid 1960’s my mother wrote to Front Page Challenge trying to have the story about this smallest newspaper in Canada chosen for their show. It wasn’t chosen as one of the challenges but it was mentioned as “Did You Know That”.

Who can tell what good may spring,

From such a tiny, little thing


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