At the age of 18, John D. MacDonald had a dream of setting up his own printing press. In the fall of 1891, his dream was realized with the opening of a job printing shop in the town of Pictou. The business began to grow under the ambitious direction of MacDonald and in December 22, 1893 he purchased a second-hand newspaper press and launched The Pictou Advocate.
The future looked promising until a fire in the early hours of a January morning in 1900 destroyed the entire press and offices. However, with relentless determination and the help of his community, MacDonald managed to rebuild his print company and newspaper; never missing an issue.
The operation took residence in many of the seedier buildings throughout the town, before the business finally settled in the stone house on George Street where The Pictou Advocate resides today.
The company was sold to a journalist named John Andrew Fisher in 1919. He maintained the business and added his unique sense of humour to the pages of the newspaper until his death in 1935. At that time George Carson Murray, a former Advocate employee and editor of Canadian Press, bought the operation. Murray extended and modernized the business during his 26-year tenure. Murray's wife, Nonie, and his ten children, all worked in the plant at some point including Bruce Murray, who started at the age of six as a paperboy.
George Murray died suddenly on September 3, 1962. After two years, Mrs. Murray sold the business to George Cadogan in the fall of 1964. The company continued to prosper; Cadogan bought some of Advocate's local print competition and acquired several highly experienced employees to run the plant including Piet VanVeen, who eventually took ownership of Advocate.
During the seventies and eighties the company expanded its commercial printing, purchased newspapers and launched several new ones. Today Advocate owns: Truro Magazine, Central Nova Business News, The Light, The Pictou Advocate, The Reporter, The Laker, The Weekly Press, The Springhill Parrsboro Record, Atlantic Fisherman, Bargain Hunter, Bedford Magazine, Dartmouth Laker, and The Southender Magazine. As well, many other publications are printed on a contract basis.
Piet VanVeen was very much the hard working entrepreneur and one time held the positions of publisher, editor and reporter. Motivated to grow the business Piet soon took on Ted Tieman as a business partner in the early 80’s and hired his brother Dirk VanVeen as production manager. In 1985 Piet VanVeen retired and the company was reorganized with Bruce Murray, Dirk VanVeen and Ted Teiman as owners.
By 1989, Advocate Printing and Publishing was owned by the two remaining employee shareholders; Bruce Murray and Dirk VanVeen. With a driven work ethic and the perseverance to turn all obstacles into opportunities, the Company flourished under their partnership. The focus of the company was now commercial printing. A keen ability to identify new industry needs and the determination to meet those needs allowed Advocate to grow from a local print shop into a revolutionary communication company, which serves customers throughout North America. By 1991, the printing plant moved to a newly constructed facility in the Pictou Industrial Park. This allowed room for the newly purchased web heatset press and for the modern sheet fed printing division.
Bruce Murray became the sole owner of Advocate Printing and Publishing in 1994. It continued to thrive with his consistent direction. The business is operated with the ideology, "If we can help our customers succeed in their business we will succeed in ours." Advocate continues to be a Murray family owned and operated company that carries on the work ethic of putting our customer’s needs first.
Technology was a primary factor of the company's growth during the nineties as Advocate developed one of the most advanced prepress departments in Eastern Canada . A commercial photography studio and a design studio were added to further meet the distinctive needs of the print industry customers. As the new creative divisions grew with new media Advocate Communications Group was formed.
Additional modernization in bindery, die cutting, direct mailing, prepress, web printing, distribution and customer proofing; combined with the talent and spirit of its people has made the business one of the most progressive full service print companies in Eastern Canada.
Advocate Printing & Publishing’s ability to service Atlantic Canada was greatly increased by the addition of Maritime Press of Moncton New Brunswick and St. Croix Printing and Publishing of St. Stephen New Brunswick.
The addition of Atlantic Canada’s biggest wide format printing in 2006 brings a whole new level to the services offered. Advocate continues to expand by recognizing opportunity and responding to clients needs. Today we print everything from national flyers and magazines to banners, brochures, hockey pucks and business cards.
In 2010 Metro Guide Publishing joined the Advocate family with with them over 40 years of experience in the publishing industry. With thirteen magazines, Metro Guide Publishing serves our Atlantic Canadian communities at home and promotes our many talents to the world.
Advocate Printing and Publishing has earned a reputation as a company that combines experienced workmanship with modern technology to meet the ever changing needs of its customers.