For people like me, who consider municipal issues to be a hobby, the low-cost option of expressing views on a blog is quite appealing. What did people do before the internet?

One could always write a letter to the editor, which will get printed at the editor’s discretion. If one were lucky enough, they were the editor of the newspaper, and would be able to print articles like this one, which complained about how ugly the power poles are in downtown Fredericton.

The Fredericton Evening Capital – Oct 22, 1887 (Google News Archives)

If the newspaper wouldn’t print your letters, then you could always print your own book. This would have been fairly expensive, but if you were really determined to get your point across, you could. A fine example is one book written by a Mrs. M. H. Pengilly while (I kid you not) “imprisoned in the Provincial Lunatic Asylum” warning of the dangers of building a bridge on the St. John river. (To be fair, she did correctly predict that an ice-jam would form around the bridge and flood the city (1935?)

It wasn’t just cranks and crazy people back then either, here we have a business case for a municipal water system. The author, G. E. Fenety argues that the increased taxes caused by adding a water system will be offset by the savings in fire insurance premiums. He also advocated for a publicly run water system, which is still an issue today.

Methods of communication change, but the desire to passively-aggressively complain about things will always be around.