Launched in 1880, the Ellesmere Guardian was the second newspaper published in the Ellesmere area, Joseph Ivess having commenced the Ellesmere Advertiser just two days before. Both papers were published in Southbridge. The Advertiser didn’t see out the year.
Charles Edmund Sherlock, the publisher of the Guardian, had previously worked on the Ashburton Mail before moving to Southbridge. In 1886 Robert George Park assumed control. He had been a partner in the business for several years. Park moved the Guardian office to Leeston.
The next few years appear to have been difficult ones for the Guardian. Publication was suspended in the late 1880s and the paper changed hands frequently. Things improved in 1892 when William Zouch, formerly of the Ashburton Guardian, moved the paper back to Southbridge. Circulation soon rose from 800 to 1200 issues.
In 1897 Cecil Rhys Thornton became editor. He was an ardent prohibitionist and used the paper to promote this cause. His zealousness landed him in court in 1899 when he was sued for libel for comments made in the paper. Thornton left to work on the Inangahua Times in 1904.
Horace McMillan, a 19 year old reporter on the paper, bought the Guardian in 1908 and remained in charge until retiring in 1947. Under his management the paper flourished, becoming one of the better country newspapers in the Dominion.
McMillan moved operations back to Leeston in 1916. The paper remained there until it merged with the Malvern Record to form the Central Canterbury News in 1983.
Note: only two issues of the Guardian are known to exist before 1891.