QUEBEC CITY - North America's oldest newspaper, The Quebec Chronicle-Telegraph, has been missing from newsstands and doorsteps for three weeks, and the capital city's small Anglophone community fears it may be losing an institution.

Though it continues to publish online, its office doors are locked.

The newspaper, which has been owned by various publishers since 1764, is not up for sale, but current publisher Pierre Little did not answer phone calls from CTV Tuesday.

Little, who moved from New Brunswick to take over the operation three years ago, raised prices for readers and advertisers, and readers like Edward Gunn say the quality of the paper has diminished.

"You strike up a conversation with somebody and (the newspaper) would come up and (they'd say,) ‘Oh, I don't take that anymore. I've dropped my subscription,'" said Gunn, who began his relationship with the paper by delivering it while he went to high school.

"I've been associated with this paper one way or another for over 50 years. (It's hard) to see it going downhill the way it is," he said.

English-rights group the Voice of English-speaking Quebec has supported the paper, and is concerned if it goes online-only, not only because it won't lure advertisers, but also because of its aging readership.

"The seniors don't use Internet as much as the rest of our community, so for them the print version is essential," said Jean-Sebastien Gignac of Voice of English-speaking Quebec.

Gignac and the group hope that if the newspaper goes up for sale, they'll be able to find a new buyer.

With the right guarantee in advertising dollars, community worker Ed Sweeney said he would look at it, though so far Little hasn't placed the paper up for sale.

"I think I would look at putting together a group of people that were like-minded. But I think before we were to go any further we'd have to sit down with those community leaders and decide we're willing to take the risk," said Sweeney.