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The Intellectual Development of the Canadian People Chapter III. - Journalism


In the development of Canadian intellect the newspaper press has had a very large influence during the past half-century and more. What the pulpit has done for the moral education of the people, the press has accomplished for their general culture when schools were few and very inferior, and books were rarely seen throughout the country. When the political rights of the people were the subject of earnest controversy in the Legislatures of the Provinces the press enabled all classes to discuss public questions with more or less knowledge, and gave a decided intellectual stimulus, which had a valuable effect in a young isolated country like Canada. In the days of the French regime there was not a single printing press in Canada, though the News Letter was published in Boston as early as 1704. [Footnote: The first printing press in America wag set up at Cambridge, in the ninth year of the Charter Government (1639); the first document printed was the 'Freeman's Oath,' then an almanack, and next the Psalms.--2 Palgrave, 45. In 1740, there were no less than eleven journals--only of foolscap size, however--published in the English Colonies.] It is generally claimed that the first newspaper in Canada, was the Quebec Gazette, which was published in 1764, by Brown & Gilmour, formerly Philadelphia printers, with a subscription list of only one hundred and fifty names. The first issue appeared on the 21st June, printed on four folio pages of 18 by 12 inches, each containing two columns of small type. The first article was the prospectus in larger type, in which the promoters promised to pay particular attention 'to the refined amusements of literature and the pleasant veins of well-pointed wit; interspersed with chosen pieces of curious essays, extracted from the most celebrated authors, blending philosophy with politics, history, &c.' The conductors also pledged themselves to give no place in the paper to 'party prejudices and private scandal'--a pledge better kept than such promises are generally. There was a very slender allowance of news from Riga, St. Petersburg, London, New York and Philadelphia; but there was one ominous item, that Parliament was about imposing taxes on the Colonies, though they were without representation in that Parliament. The latest English news was to the 11th April; the latest American to the 7th May. Only two advertisements appeared--one of a general store, of dry goods, groceries, hardware, all the olla podrida necessary in those days; the other from the Honourable Commissioner of Customs, warning the public against making compositions for duties under the Imperial Act. This sheet, for some years, had no influence on public opinion; for it continued to be a mere bald summary of news, without comment on political events. Indeed, when it was first issued, the time was unfavourable for political discussion, as Quebec had only just become an English possession, and the whole country was lying torpid under the military administration of General Murray. It is, however, a fact not very generally known even yet, except to a few antiquarians, that there was a small sheet published in British America, called the Halifax Gazette [Footnote: In a letter of Secretary Cotterell, written in 1754, to Captain Floyer, at Piziquid (Windsor), he refers to M. Dandin, a priest in one of the Acadian settlements: 'If he chooses to play bel esprit in the Halifax Gazette, he may communicate his matter to the printer as soon as he pleases, as he will not print it without showing it to me.--See Murdoch's History of Nova Scotia, vol. 2, p. 234] just twelve years before the appearance of the Quebec paper. From 1769 we commence to find regular mention of the Nova Scotia Gazette and Weekly Chronicle, published on Sackville Street by A. Fleury, who also printed the first Almanac in Canada, in 1774. One of the first newspapers published in the Maritime Provinces was the Royal Gazette and New Brunswick Advertiser, which appeared in 1785 in St. John, just founded by the American Loyalists. The first paper appeared in Upper Canada on the establishment of Parliamentary Government, and was published by Louis Roy, at Newark, on the 18th April, 1793, under the title of The Upper Canada Gazette, or the American Oracle. The sheet was in folio, 15 by 9-1/2 inches, of coarse, but durable paper--not a characteristic, certainly, of our great newspapers now-a-days, of which the material is very flimsy; the impression was fairly executed; the price was three dollars a year. In 1794, the form was changed to a quarto, and one Tiffany had become the proprietor. When the Gazette was removed to York, in 1800, with all the Government offices, the Messrs. Tiffany started the Constellation, which, Dr. Scadding tells us, illustrated the jealousy which the people of the Niagara district felt at seeing York suddenly assume so much importance; for one of the writers ironically proposes a 'Stump Act' for the ambitious, though muddy, unkempt little town, 'so that the people in the space of a few months, may relapse into intoxication with impunity, and stagger home at any hour of the night without encountering the dreadful apprehension of broken necks.'

The Constellation only lived a year or two, and then gave way to the Herald and other papers at subsequent dates; and it is an interesting fact, mentioned by the learned antiquarian of Toronto, that the imposing stone used by Mr. Tiffany, was in use up to 1870, when the old Niagara Mail, long edited by Mr. W. Kirby, at last ceased publication. The Gazette and Oracle continued to be published at York by different printers, and, like other journals in America, often appeared in variegated colours--blue being the favourite--in consequence of the scarcity of white paper. The title, American Oracle, was dropped from the heading when Dr. Horne became the publisher, in 1817; it continued to publish official notices, besides meagre summaries of general news, and some miscellaneous reading matter.

The second paper in Upper Canada was the Upper Canada Guardian or Freeman's Journal, which was edited and printed by Joseph Willcox, who fell under the ban of the Lieutenant Governor, for his Liberal opinions. It was printed in 1807, and exercised much influence for a time as an organ of the struggling Liberal party. Like others, in those days of political bitterness, its editor was imprisoned, ostensibly for a breach of parliamentary privilege, though in reality as a punishment for presuming to differ from the governing party; but, able man as he undoubtedly was, he marred his career by an infamous desertion to the Americans during the war of 1812, before the expiration of which he was killed. The first newspaper in Kingston, the third in the province, was the Gazette, founded in 1810, by Stephen Miles, who afterwards became a minister of the Methodist denomination, and also printed the Grenville Gazette, the first journal in the old town of Prescott. [Footnote: Morgan's 'Bibliotheca Canadensis,' Art. Miles.] The first daily paper published in British North America, appears to have been the Daily Advertiser, which appeared in Montreal, in May, 1833--the Herald and Gazette being tri-weekly papers at the time. The Daily Advertiser was issued in the interests of the Liberals, under the management of the Hon. H. S. Chapman, subsequently a judge in New Zealand. One of the chief inducements held out to subscribers was the regular publication of full prices current and other commercial information. The British Whig, of Kingston, was the first newspaper that attempted the experiment of a daily issue in Upper Canada.

It is a noteworthy fact, which can be best mentioned here, that the first newspaper in Three Rivers was the Gazette, published by one Stobbs, in 1832, more than two centuries after the settlement of that town, which has always been in the midst of the most thickly settled district of Lower Canada. At that time, newspapers were rapidly gaining ground in Upper Canada--districts not so old by months or weeks even as Three Rivers had years, and with a more scattered population, not exceeding one-fifth of that of the Three Rivers district, could boast of, at least, one newspaper. [Footnote: Quebec Mercury, 1832.]

In 1827, Mr. Jotham Blanchard, the ancestor of a well-known family of Liberals in the Lower Provinces, established the first newspaper outside of Halifax, the Colonial Patriot, at Pictou, a flourishing town on the Straits of Northumberland, chiefly settled by the Scotch.

In 1839, Mr. G. Fenety--now 'Queen's Printer' at Fredericton --established the Commercial News, at St. John, New Brunswick, the first tri-weekly and penny paper in the Maritime Provinces, which he conducted for a quarter of a century, until he disposed of it to Mr. Edward Willis, under whose editorial supervision it has always exercised considerable influence in the public affairs of the province. The first daily paper published in the Province of Nova Scotia, was the Halifax Morning Post, appearing in 1845, edited by John H. Crosskill but it had a brief existence, and tri-weeklies continued to be published for many years--the old Colonist representing the Conservatives, and the Chronicle the Liberals, of the province. The senior of the press, in the Lower Provinces, however, is the Acadian Recorder, the first number of which appeared in 1813.

The only mention I have been able to find of a newspaper in the brief histories of Prince Edward Island, is of the appearance, in 1823, of the Register, printed and edited by J. D. Haszard, who distinguished himself at the outset of his career by a libel on one of the Courts before which he was summoned with legal promptitude--just as printers are now-a-days in Manitoba--and dismissed with a solemn reprimand, on condition of revealing the authors of the libel. The remarks of the Chancellor (who appears to have been also the Governor of the Island), in dismissing the culprit, are quite unique in their way. 'I compassionate your youth and inexperience; did I not do so, I would lay you by the heels long enough for you to remember it. You have delivered your evidence fairly, plainly and clearly, and as became a man; but I caution you, when you publish anything again, keep clear, Sir, of a Chancellor. Beware, Sir, of a Chancellor.' [Footnote: Campbell's Hist, of P. E. I.] Many other papers were published in later years; the most prominent being the Islander, which appeared in 1842, and continued in existence for forty-two years. This paper along with the Examiner, edited by the Hon. Edward Whelan, a man of brilliant parts, now dead, had much influence over political affairs in the little colony.

The history of the newspaper press of British Columbia does not go beyond twenty-two years. The first attempt at journalistic enterprise was the Victoria Gazette, a daily published in 1858, by two Americans, who, however, stopped the issue in the following year. The next paper was the Courrier de la Nouvelle Caledonie printed by one Thornton, an Anglo-Frenchman, who had travelled all over the world. The somewhat notorious Marriott, of the San Francisco News-Letter, also, in 1859, published the Vancouver Island Gazette, but only for a while. It is a noteworthy fact, that the Cariboo Sentinel--now no longer in existence--was printed on a press sent out to Mgr. Demers, by the Roman Catholics of Paris. Even the little settlement of Emory has had its newspaper, the Inland Sentinel. The best known newspaper in the Pacific Province has always been, since 1858, the British Colonist, owned and edited originally by Hon. Amor de Cosmos, for some time Premier, and now a well-known member of the House of Commons, who made his paper a power in the little colony by his enterprise and forcible expression of opinion. The Standard is also another paper of political influence, and is published daily, like the Colonist. Two papers are printed in New Westminster, and one in Nanaimo; the total number in the province being five.

In the previous paragraphs, I have contained myself to the mention of a few facts in the early history of journalism in each of the Provinces of Canada. Proceeding now to a more extended review, we find that a few papers exercised from the outset a very decided influence in political affairs, and it is to these I propose now to refer, especially, before coming down to later times of extended political rights and consequent expansion of newspaper enterprise. The oldest newspaper now in Canada is the Montreal Gazette, which was first published as far back as 1787, by one Mesplet, in the French language. It ceased publication for a time, but reappeared about 1794, with Lewis Roy as printer. On the death of the latter, the establishment was assumed by E. Edwards, at No. 135 St. Paul Street, then the fashionable thoroughfare of the town. It was only a little affair, about the size of a large foolscap sheet, printed in small type in the two languages, and containing eight broad columns. In 1805, the Quebec Mercury was founded by Thomas Gary, a Nova Scotian lawyer, as an organ of the British inhabitants, who, at that time, formed a small but comparatively wealthy and influential section of the community. Mr. Gary was a man of scholarly attainments and a writer of considerable force. The Mercury had hardly been a year in existence, when its editor experienced the difficulty of writing freely in those troublous times, as he had to apologize for a too bold censure of the action of the dominant party in the Legislature. But this contretemps did not prevent him continuing in that vein of sarcasm of which he was a master, and evoking, consequently, the ire of the leading Liberals of those days--Stuart, Vanfelson, Papineau, Viger, and others. One of the results of his excessive freedom of speech was an attempt to punish him for a breach of privilege; but he remained concealed in his own house, where, like the conspirators of old times, he had a secret recess made for such purposes, and where he continued hurling his philippics against his adversaries with all that power of invective which would be used by a conscientious though uncompromising old Tory of those days, when party excitement ran so high. The Quebec Gazette was at that time, as in its first years, hardly more than a mere resume of news. [Footnote: From 1783 to 1792, the paper scarcely published a political 'leader,' and so fearful were printers of offending men in power, that the Montreal Gazette, so late as 1790, would not even indicate the locality in which a famous political banquet was held, on the occasion of the formation of a Constitutional Club, the principal object of which was to spread political knowledge throughout the country. See Garneau II. 197 and 206.] Hon. John Neilson assumed its editorship in 1796, and continued more or less to influence its columns whilst he remained in the Lower Canada Legislature. In 1808, Mr. Neilson enlarged the size of his paper, and published it twice a week, in order to meet the growing demand for political intelligence. The Gazette was trammelled for years by the fact that it was semi-official, and the vehicle of public notifications, but when, subsequently, [Footnote: In 1823, an Official Gazette was published by Dr. Fisher, Queen's Printer. Canadian Magazine,' p. 470.] this difficulty no longer existed, the paper, either under his own or his son's management, was independent, and, on the whole, moderate in tone whenever it expressed opinions on leading public questions. Mr. Neilson, from 1818, when he became a member of the Legislature, exercised a marked influence on the political discussions of his time, and any review of his career as journalist and politician would be necessarily a review of the political history of half a century. A constant friend of the French Canadians, a firm defender of British connection, never a violent, uncompromising partisan, but a man of cool judgment, he was generally able to perform good service to his party and country. As a public writer he was concise and argumentative, and influential, through the belief that men had in his sincerity and honesty of purpose.

In 1806, there appeared in Quebec a new organ of public opinion, which has continued to the present day to exercise much influence on the politics of Lower Canada. This was the Canadien, which was established in the fall of that year, chiefly through the exertions of Pierre Bedard, who was for a long while the leader of the French party in the Legislature, and at the same time chief editor of the new journal, which at once assumed a strong position as the exponent of the principles with which its French Canadian conductors were so long identified. It waged a bitter war against its adversaries, and no doubt had an important share in shaping the opinions and educating the public mind of the majority in the province. If it too frequently appealed to national prejudices, and assumed an uncompromising attitude when counsels of conciliation and moderation would have been wiser, we must make allowance for the hot temper of those times, and the hostile antagonism of races and parties, which the leaders on both sides were too often ready to foment, The editor of the Canadien was also punished by imprisonment for months, and the issue of the paper was stopped for a while on the order of Chief Justice Sewell, in the exciting times of that most arbitrary of military governors, Sir James Craig. The action of the authorities in this matter is now admitted to have been tyrannical and unconstitutional, and it is certainly an illustration of human frailty that this same M. Bedard, who suffered not a little from the injustice of his political enemies, should have shown such weakness--or, shall we say, Christian forbearance--in accepting, not long afterwards, a judgeship from the same Government which he had always so violently opposed, and from which he had suffered so much.

Whilst the Canadien, Gazette, and Mercury were, in Lower Canada, ably advocating their respective views on the questions of the day, the Press of Upper Canada was also exhibiting evidences of new vigour. The Observer was established at York, in 1820, and the Canadian freeman in 1825, the latter, an Opposition paper, well printed, and edited by Francis Collins who had also suffered at the hands of the ruling powers. An anecdote is related of the commencement of the journalistic career of this newspaper man of old times, which is somewhat characteristic of the feelings which animated the ruling powers of the day with respect to the mass of people who were not within the sacred pale. When Dr. Home gave up the publication of the Gazette, in whose office Collins had been for some time a compositor, the latter applied for the position, and was informed that 'the office would be given to none but a gentleman.'

This little incident recalls the quiet satire which Goldsmith levels in 'The Good-natured Man,' against just such absurd sensitiveness as Collins had to submit to:--

FIRST FELLOW--The Squire has got spunk in him.

SECOND FELLOW--I loves to hear him sing, bekeays he never gives us nothing that's low.

THIRD FELLOW--O, damn anything that's low; I cannot bear it.

FOURTH FELLOW--The genteel thing is the genteel thing any time, if so be that a gentleman bees in a concatenation accordingly.

THIRD FELLOW--I likes the maxum of it. Master Muggins. What, though I am obligated to dance a bear, a man may be a gentleman for all that. May this be my poison, if my bear ever dances but to the very genteelest of tunes--'Water Parted,' or 'The Minuet in Ariadne.'

No doubt this little episode made the disappointed applicant inveterate against the Government, for he commenced, soon afterwards, the publication of an Opposition paper, in which be exhibited the rude ability of an unpolished and half-educated man. [Footnote: C. Lindsey's 'Life of W. Lyon Mackenzie,' Vol. I., p. 112, note.]

Mr. W. Lyon Mackenzie appeared as a journalist for the first time in 1824, at Queenston, where he published the Colonial Advocate, on the model of Cobbett's Register, containing 32 pages, a form afterwards changed to the broad sheet. From the first it illustrated the original and eccentric talent of its independent founder. Italics and capitals, index hands and other typographic symbols, were scattered about with remarkable profusion, to give additional force and notoriety to the editorial remarks which were found on every page, according as the whim and inspiration of the editor dictated. The establishment of the paper was undoubtedly a bold attempt at a time when the province was but sparsely settled, and the circulation necessarily limited by the rarity of post-offices even in the more thickly-populated districts, and by the exorbitant rates of postage which amounted to eight hundred dollars a-year on a thousand copies. More than that, any independent expression of opinion was sure to evoke the ire of the orthodox in politics and religion, which in those days were somewhat closely connected. The Advocate was soon removed to York, and became from that time a political power, which ever and anon excited the wrath of the leaders of the opposite party, who induced some of their followers at last to throw the press and type of the obnoxious journal into the Bay, while they themselves, following the famous Wilkes' precedent, expelled Mackenzie from the legislature, and in defiance of constitutional law, declared him time and again ineligible to sit in the Assembly. The despotic acts of the reigning party, however, had the effect of awakening the masses to the necessity of supporting Mr. Mackenzie, and made him eventually a prominent figure in the politics of those disturbed times. The Advocate changed its name, a short time previous to 1837, to the Constitution, and then disappeared in the troublous days that ended with the flight of its indiscreet though honest editor. Contemporaneous with the Advocate were the Loyalist, the Courier, and the Patriot--the latter having first appeared at York in 1833. These three journals were Conservative, or rather Tory organs, and were controlled by Mr. Fothergill, Mr. Gurnett, and Mr. Dalton. Mr. Gurnett was for years after the Union the Police Magistrate of Toronto, while his old antagonist was a member of the Legislature, and the editor of the Message, a curiosity in political literature. Mr. Thomas Dalton was a very zealous advocate of British connection, and was one of the first Colonial writers to urge a Confederation of the Provinces; and if his zeal frequently carried him into the intemperate discussion of public questions the ardour of the times must be for him, as for his able, unselfish opponent, Mr. Mackenzie, the best apology.

Mrs. Jameson, who was by no means inclined to view Canadian affairs with a favourable eye, informs us that in 1836 there were some forty papers published in Upper Canada; of these, three were religious, namely, the Christian Guardian, the Wesleyan Advocate, and the Church. A paper in the German language was published at Berlin, in the Gore Settlement, for the use of the German settlers. Lower Canadian and American newspapers were also circulated in great numbers. She deprecates the abusive, narrow tone of the local papers, but at the same time admits--a valuable admission from one far from prepossessed in favour of Canadians--that, on the whole, the press did good in the absence and scarcity of books. In some of the provincial papers she 'had seen articles written with considerable talent;' among other things, 'a series of letters, signed Evans, on the subject of an education fitted for an agricultural people, and written with infinite good sense and kindly feeling.' At this time the number of newspapers circulated through the post-office in Upper Canada, and paying postage, was: Provincial papers, 178,065; United States and other foreign papers, 149,502. Adding 100,000 papers stamped, or free, there were some 427,567 papers circulated yearly among a population of 370,000, 'of whom perhaps one in fifty could read.' The narrow-mindedness of the country journals generally would probably strike an English litterateur like Mrs. Jameson with much force; little else was to be expected in a country, situated as Canada was then, with a small population, no generally diffused education, and imperfect facilities of communication with the great world beyond. In this comparatively isolated position, journalists might too often mistake

'The rustic murmur of their burgh
For the great wave that echoes round the world.'

Yet despite its defects, the journalism of Upper Canada was confessedly doing an important work in those backward days of Canadian development. The intelligence of the country would have been at a much lower ebb, without the dissemination of the press throughout the rural districts.

Whilst the journalists already named were contending in Upper Canada with fierce zeal for their respective parties, new names had appeared in the press of the other provinces. The Canadien was edited for years by M. Etienne Parent, except during its temporary suspension, from 1825 to 1831. His bold expression of opinion on the questions that forced a small party of his countrymen into an ill-advised rebellion sent him at last to prison; but, like others of his contemporaries, he eventually in more peaceful times received a recompense for his services by appointments in the public service, and died at last of a ripe old age a few months after his retirement from the Assistant-Secretaryship of State for the Dominion. In his hands the Canadien continued to wield great power among his compatriots, who have never failed to respect him as one of the ablest journalists their country has produced. His writings have not a little historical value, having been, in all cases where his feelings were not too deeply involved, characterized by breadth of view and critical acumen.

Whilst Gary, Neilson, Mackenzie, Parent, Dalton and Gurnett were the prominent journalists of the larger provinces, where politics were always at a fever heat, a young journalist first appeared in the Maritime Colonies, who was thenceforth to be a very prominent figure in the political contests of his native province. In 1827, Joseph Howe, whose family came of that sturdy, intelligent New England stock which has produced many men and women of great intellectual vigour, and who had been from an early age, like Franklin, brought up within the precincts of a printing office, bought out the Weekly Chronicle, of Halifax, and, changing its name to the Acadian, commenced his career as a public writer. Referring to the file of the Acadian, we see little to indicate unusual talent. It contains some lively sketches of natural scenery, some indifferent poetry, and a few common-place editorial contributions. A few months later he severed his connection with the Acadian and purchased the Nova Scotian from Mr. G. R. Young, the brother of the present Chief-Justice, a man of large knowledge and fine intellect. It was a courageous undertaking for so young a man, as he was only 24 years of age when he assumed the control of so prominent a paper; but the rulers of the dominant official party soon found in him a vigorous opponent and a zealous advocate of Liberal opinions. It is a noteworthy fact that Mr. Howe, like Mr. Mackenzie in Upper Canada, made himself famous at the outset of his career by pleading on his own behalf in a case of libel. Mr. Mackenzie had been prosecuted for an alleged libel circulated during a political contest with Mr. Small, and defended his own cause so successfully that the jury gave him a verdict; and they are even said, according to Mr. Lindsey's 'Life of Mr. Mackenzie,' to have debated among themselves whether it was not competent for them to award damages to the defendant for the annoyance of a frivolous prosecution. Mr. Howe's debut as an advocate was in connection with a matter of much graver importance. He had the courage, at a time when there existed many abuses apparently without hope of redress, to attack the Halifax Bench of Magistrates, little autocrats in their way, a sort of Venetian Council, and the consequence was a criminal indictment for libel. He determined to get up his own case, and, after several days' close study of authorities, he went to the jury in the Old Court Room, now turned into the Legislative Library, and succeeded in obtaining a glorious acquittal and no small amount of popular applause for his moral courage on this memorable occasion. The subsequent history of his career justified the confidence which his friends thenceforth reposed in him. His indefatigable industry, added to his great love of the masters of English literature, soon gave vigour and grace to his style, whilst his natural independence of spirit that could little brook control in any shape, and his innate hatred of political despotism, soon led him to attack boldly the political abuses of the day. The history of Joseph Howe from that day was a history of the triumph of Liberal principles and of responsible government in Nova Scotia. As a versatile writer, he has had no superior in Canada, for he brought to the political controversies of his time the aid of powerful invective and cutting satire; whilst, on occasions when party strife was hushed, he could exhibit all the evidences of his cultivated intellect and sprightly humour.

The new era of Canadian journalism commenced with the settlement of the political difficulties which so long disturbed the provinces, and with the concession of responsible government, which gave a wider range to the intellect of public writers. The leading papers, in 1840, were the Montreal Gazette, the Montreal Herald, the Canadien, the Quebec Gazette, the Quebec Mercury, in Lower Canada; the British Colonist, British Whig, and Examiner, in Upper Canada; the Nova Scotian and Acadian Recorder, in Nova Scotia; the News, in New Brunswick. The Colonist was founded at Toronto, in 1838, by Hugh Scobie, under the name of the Scotsman--changed to the former title in the third number--and from the outset took a high position as an independent organ of the Conservative party. The copy of the first number, before me, is quite an improvement on the Gazette and Mercury of Quebec, as published in the early part of the century. It contains some twenty-four columns, on a sheet about as large as the Ottawa Free Press. It contains several short editorials, a resume of news, and terse legislative reports. Among the advertisements is one of the New York Albion, which, for so many years, afforded an intellectual treat to the people of all the provinces; for it was in its columns they were able to read the best productions of Marryatt and other English authors, not easily procurable in those early times; besides being annually presented with engravings of merit--a decided improvement on the modern chromo--from the paintings of eminent artists; engravings which are still to be seen in thousands of Canadian homes, and which, in their way, helped to cultivate taste among the masses, by whom good pictures of that class could not be easily procured.

The Examiner was started at Toronto, on the appointment of Lord Durham to the Government of Canada, as an organ of the Liberal party, by Mr. Francis Hincks, a young Irishman, who, from his first arrival in Canada, attracted attention as a financier and a journalist. The Examiner, however, had not a long existence, for Sir Francis Hincks--we give him his later title, won after years of useful public service as journalist and statesman--proceeded, in 1843, to Montreal, where he established the Pilot, which had much influence as an organ of the party led by Baldwin and Lafontaine. In 1844, a young Scotchman, Mr. George Brown, began to be a power in the politics of the Canadian Provinces. He was first connected with The Banner, founded in the interest of the Free Church party; but the Liberals found it necessary to have a special organ, and the result was the establishment, in 1844, of the Toronto Globe, at first a weekly, then a tri-weekly, and eventually the most widely circulated and influential daily paper in British North America. During the thirty-five years Mr. Brown remained connected with that journal it invariably bore the impress of his powerful intellect. The Globe and George Brown were always synonymous in the public mind, and the influence he exercised over his party--no doubt a tyrannical influence at times--proved the power that a man of indomitable will and tenacity of purpose can exercise in the control of a political organ. From 1844 to the present time the newspaper press made progress equal to the growth of the provinces in population, wealth and intelligence. The rapid improvement in the internal communications of the country, the increase of post offices and the cheapness of postage, together with the remarkable development of public education, especially in Upper Canada, naturally gave a great impulse to newspaper enterprise in all the large cities and towns. Le Journal de Quebec was established in 1842 by the Hon Joseph Cauchon, from that time a force in political life. Another journal, the Minerve, of Montreal, which had been founded in 1827 by M. Morin, but had ceased publication during the troubles of 1837-8, re-appeared again in 1842, and assumed that influential position as an exponent of the Bleus which it has continued to occupy to the present. Le Pays, La Patrie, and L'Avenir were other Canadian papers, supporting the Rouges--the latter having been established in 1848, and edited by l'enfant terrible, M. J. B. Eric Dorion, a brother of Sir Antoine Dorion. In Upper Canada, Mr. R. Reid Smiley established, during 1846, the Hamilton Spectator, as a tri-weekly, which was changed to a daily issue in 1852. In 1848, Mr. W. Macdougall appeared for the first time as a journalist, in connection with the Canada Farmer; but when that journal was merged into the Canada Agriculturist, he founded the North American, which exerted no small influence as a trenchant, vigorous exponent of Reform principles, until it was amalgamated, in 1857, with the Globe. In 1852 the Leader was established, at Toronto, by Mr. James Beaty--the old Patriot becoming its weekly issue--and during the years it remained under the editorial management of Mr. Charles Lindsey--a careful, graceful writer of large knowledge --it exercised much influence as an exponent of the views of the Liberal Conservative party; but soon after his retirement it lost its position, and died at last from pure inanition and incapacity to keep up with the progressive demands of modern journalism. In 1857, Mr. McGee made his appearance in Canada as the editor of the Montreal New Era, in which he illustrated for some years the brilliancy of his style and his varied attainments. The history of journalism, indeed, from 1840 to 1867, brings before us a number of able writers, whose names are remembered with pride by all who were connected with them and had opportunities, not merely of reading their literary contributions, but of personally associating with men of such varied accomplishments and knowledge of the Canadian world. Morrison, Sheppard, Penny, Chamberlin, Brown, Lindsey, Macdougall, Hogan, McGee, Whelan, P. S. Hamilton, T. White, Derome, Cauchon, Jos. Doutre, were the most distinguished writers of an epoch which was famous for its political and industrial progress. But of all that brilliant phalanx, Mr. White alone contributes, with more or less regularity, to the press, whilst all the others are either dead or engaged in other occupations. [Footnote: Mr. McGee was assassinated in 1868. The circumstances of the death of John Sheridan Hogan, in 1859, were not known till years afterwards, when one of the infamous Don Gang revealed the story of his wretched end. Then we have the great journalist and leader of the Liberal party in Upper Canada also dying from the effects of a pistol-wound at the hands of a drunken reprobate. Hon. Edward Whelan, of Charlottetown, died years ago. Mr. Morrison died whilst editor of the Toronto Daily Telegraph. Mr. Sheppard was, when last heard of, in New York, in connection with the press. Mr. Lindsey is Registrar of Toronto. Hon. Joseph Cauchon is Lieutenant-Governor of Manitoba. Mr. Chamberlin is Queen's Printer at Ottawa, and his partner on the Gazette, Mr. Lowe, is also in the Civil service. Mr. Derome died only a few weeks ago. Mr. Penny is a Senator. Mr. McDongall is a member of the Commons, and lives in Ottawa. Mr. Doutre is at the head of his profession in Quebec. Mr. Belford, of the Mail, died a few weeks ago at Ottawa. Besides those older journalists mentioned in the text, younger men, like Mr. Descelles and Mr. Dansereau, of the Minerve, and Mr. Patteson, of the Mail, have also received positions recently in the public service. Mr. Edward McDonald, who founded, with Mr. Garvie, the Halifax Citizen, in opposition to the Reporter, of which the present writer was editor, died Collector of the Port. Mr. Bowell, of the Belleville Intelligencer, is now Minister of Customs. The list might be extended indefinitely.]

Since 1867, the Mail, established in 1873 as the chief organ of the Liberal Conservatives, has come to the front rank in journalism, and is a powerful rival of the Globe, while the Colonist, Leader, and other papers which once played an important part in the political drama, are forgotten, like most political instruments that have done their service and are no longer available. Several of the old journals so long associated with the history of political and intellectual activity in this country, however, still exist as influential organs. The Quebec Gazette was, some years ago, merged into another Quebec paper--having become long before a memorial of the past in its appearance and dullness, a sort of Rip Van Winkle in the newspaper world. The Canadien has always had its troubles; but, nevertheless, it continues to have influence in the Quebec district, and the same may be said of the Journal de Quebec, though the writer who first gave it power in politics is now keeping petty state in the infant Province of the West. The Quebec Mercury still exists, though on a very small scale of late. The Montreal Gazette (now the oldest paper in Canada), the Montreal Herald, the Minerve, the Hamilton Spectator, and the Brockville Recorder (established in 1820), are still exercising political influence as of old. The St. John News and the Halifax Acadian Recorder are still vigorously carried on. The Halifax Chronicle remains the leading Liberal organ in Nova Scotia, though the journalist whose name was so long associated with it in the early days of its influence died a few years ago in the old Government House, within whose sacred walls he was not permitted to enter in the days of his fierce controversy with Lord Falkland. In its later days, the Hon. William Annand, lately in the employment of the Dominion Government in London, was nominally the Editor-in-Chief, but the Hon. Jonathan McCully, Hiram Blanchard, and William Garvie were among those who contributed largely to its editorial columns--able political writers not long since dead. The public journals of this country are now so numerous that it would take several pages to enumerate them; hardly a village of importance throughout Canada but has one or more weeklies. In 1840 there were, as accurately as I have been able to ascertain, only 65 papers in all Canada, including the Maritime Provinces. In 1857, there were 243 in all; in 1862 some 320, and in 1870 the number had increased to 432, of which Ontario alone owned 255. The number has not much increased since then--the probable number being now 465, of which 56, at least, appear daily. [Footnote: The data for 1840 are taken from Martin's 'Colonial Empire,' and Mrs. Jameson's account. The figures for 1857 are taken from Lovell's 'Canada Directory;' the figures for 1880 from the lists in Commons and Senate Reading Rooms. The last census returns for the four old Provinces give only 308 printing establishments, employing 3,400 hands, paying $1,200,000 in wages, and producing articles to the worth of $3,420,202. Although not so stated, these figures probably include job as well as newspaper offices--both being generally combined--and newspapers where no job work is done are obviously left out.] The Post Office statistics show in 1879, that 4,085,454 lbs. of newspapers, at one cent per lb. passed through the post offices of the Dominion, and 5,610,000 copies were posted otherwise. Nearly three millions and a half of papers were delivered under the free delivery system in the cities of Halifax, Hamilton, London, Montreal, Quebec, Ottawa, St. John, and Toronto. Another estimate gives some 30,000,000 of papers passing through the Post Office in the course of a year, of which probably two thirds, or 20,000,000, are Canadian. These figures do not, however, represent any thing like the actual circulation of the Canadian papers, as the larger proportion are immediately delivered to subscribers by carriers in the cities and towns. The census of 1870 in the United States showed the total annual circulation of the 5,871 newspapers in that country to be, 1,508,548,250, or an average of forty for each person in the Republic, or one for every inhabitant in the world. Taking the same basis for our calculation, we may estimate there are upwards of 160,000,000 copies of newspapers annually distributed to our probable population of four millions of people. The influence which the newspaper press must exercise upon the intelligence of the masses is consequently obvious.

The names of the journals that take the front rank, from the enterprise and ability with which they are conducted, will occur to every one au courant with public affairs: the Globe and Mail, in Toronto; the Gazette and Herald, in Montreal; the Chronicle (in its 34th year) and Mercury, in Quebec; the Spectator and Times, in Hamilton; the Free Press and Advertiser, in London; the British Whig (in its 46th year) and Daily News, in Kingston; Citizen and Free Press, in Ottawa; News, Globe, Telegraph, and Sun, in St. John, N. B.; Herald and Chronicle, in Halifax; the Examiner and Patriot, in Prince Edward Island, are the chief exponents of the principles of the Conservative and Liberal party. Besides these political organs the Montreal Star and Witness, and the Toronto Telegram have a large circulation, and are more or less independent in their opinions. Among the French papers, besides those referred to above, we have the Courrier de Montreal (1877), Nouveau Monde (1867), L'Evenement (1867), Courrier d'Ottawa, now le Canada (1879), Franco Canadien (1857), which enjoy more or less influence in the Province of Quebec. Perhaps no fact illustrates more strikingly the material and mental activity of the Dominion than the number of newspapers now published in the new Province of the North-West. The first paper in that region appeared in 1859, when Messrs. Buckingham & Coldwell conveyed to Fort Garry their press and materials in an ox cart, and established the little Nor' Wester immediately under the walls of the fort. Now there are three dailies published in the City of Winnipeg alone--all of them well printed and fairly edited--and at least sixteen papers in all appear periodically through the North-West. The country press--that is to say, the press published outside the great centres of industrial and political activity--has remarkably improved in vigour within a few years; and the metropolitan papers are constantly receiving from its ranks new and valuable accessions, whilst there remain connected with it, steadily labouring with enthusiasm in many cases, though the pecuniary rewards are small, an indefatigable band of terse, well-informed writers, who exercise no mean influence within the respective spheres of their operations. The Sarnia Observer, Sherbrooke Gazette, Stratford Beacon, Perth Courier (1834), Lindsay Post, Guelph Mercury (1845), Yarmouth Herald, Peterboro Review, St. Thomas Journal, News of St. Johns (Q), Courrier de St. Hyacinthe, Carleton Sentinel, Maritime Farmer, are among the many journals which display no little vigour in their editorials and skill in the selection of news and literary matter. During the thirteen years that have elapsed since Confederation new names have been inscribed on the long roll of Canadian journalists. Mr. Gordon Brown still remains in the editorial chair of the Globe, one of the few examples we find in the history of Canadian journalism of men who have not been carried away by the excitement of politics or the attraction of a soft place in the public service. The names of White, McCulloch, Farrar, Rattray, G. Stewart, jr., M. J. Griffin, Carroll Ryan, Stewart (Montreal Herald), Stewart (Halifax Herald), Sumichrast, Fielding, Elder, Geo. Johnson, Blackburn (London Free Press), Cameron (London Advertiser), Davin, Dymond, Pirie, D. K. Brown, Mackintosh, Macready, Livingstone, Ellis, Houde, Vallee, Desjardins, Tarte, Faucher de St. Maurice, Fabre, Tasse, L'O. David, are among the prominent writers on the most widely circulated English and French Canadian papers.

In the necessarily limited review I have been forced to give of the progress of journalism in Canada, I have made no mention of the religious press which has been established, in the large cities principally, as the exponent of the views of particular sects. The Methodist body has been particularly successful in this line of business, in comparison with other denominations. The Christian Guardian, established at Toronto in 1829, under the editorial supervision of Rev. Egerton Ryerson, continues to exhibit its pristine vigour under the editorship of the Rev. Mr. Dewart. The organ of the same body in the Maritime Provinces is the Wesleyan, edited by Rev. T. Watson Smith, and is fully equal in appearance and ability to its Western contemporary. The Baptists, Presbyterians, Episcopal Methodists and Congregationalists, have also exponents of their particular views. The Church of England has made many attempts to establish denominational organs on a successful basis, but very few of them have ever come up to the expectations of their promoters in point of circulation--the old Church having been, on the whole, the most ably conducted. At present there are three papers in the west, representing different sections of the Church. The Roman Catholics have also their organs, not so much religious as political--the St. John Freeman, edited by the Hon. Mr. Anglin, is the most remarkable for the ability and vigour with which it has been conducted as a supporter of the views of the Liberal party in the Dominion, as well as of the interests of the Roman Catholic body. In all there are some thirty papers published in the Dominion, professing to have the interests of certain sects particularly at heart. [Footnote: It is noteworthy that the Canadian religions press has never attained the popularity of the American Denominational Journals, which are said to have an aggregate circulation of nearly half of the secular press.]

The Canadian Illustrated News and L'Opinion Publique, which owe their establishment to the enterprise of Mr. Desbarats, a gentleman of culture, formerly at the head of the old Government Printing Office, are among the examples of the new vigour and ability that have characterized Canadian journalistic enterprise of recent years. The illustrations in the News are, on the whole well executed, and were it possible to print them on the superior tinted paper of the Graphic, and it would be possible if the people were willing to pay the expense, they would compare more favourably than they do with the impressions of the older papers published in New York and London. In its prints of native scenery, and portraits of deceased Canadians of merit, the News is a valuable and interesting addition to journalism in this country, and will be found most useful to the future generations who will people the Dominion. Nor does Canada now lack an imitator of Punch, in the humorous line. It is noteworthy that whilst America has produced humorists like 'Sam Slick,' Artemus Ward, Mark Twain, and others, no American rival to Punch has yet appeared in Boston or New York. The attempts that have heretofore been made have been generally coarse caricatures--for example, the political cartoons in Harper's Weekly, which are never characterized by those keen artistic touches that make Punch so famous. Previous efforts in this field of political and social satire in Canada have always failed for want of support, as well as from the absence of legitimate humour. The oldest satirical sheet was Le Fantastique, published at Quebec by N. Aubin, who was a very bitter partisan, and was sent to gaol in 1838 for the expression of his opinions. The Grumbler was a more creditable effort made in Toronto some quarter of a century ago, to illustrate and hit off the political and social foibles of the day in Canada. But it has been left for Mr. Bengough in these times to rise in Grip far above all previous attempts in the same direction, and 'to show up' very successfully, and generally with much humour, certain salient features of our contemporary history.

The influence of the press, during the century, must be measured by the political intelligence and activity of the people. Only in the United States are the masses as well informed on the public questions of the day as are the majority of Canadians, and this fact must be attributed, in a large measure, to the efforts of journalists to educate the people and stimulate their mental faculties. When education was at a low ebb indeed, when the leading and wealthier class was by no means too anxious to increase the knowledge of the people, the press was the best vehicle of public instruction. No doubt it often abused its trust, and forgot the responsibilities devolving on it; no doubt its conductors were too frequently animated by purely selfish motives, yet, taking the good with the evil, the former was predominant as a rule. It is only necessary to consider the number of journalists who have played an important part in Parliament, to estimate the influence journalism must have exerted on the political fortunes of Canada. The names of Neilson, Bedard, W. L. Mackenzie, Hincks, Howe, Brown, and Macdougall, will recall remarkable epochs in our history. But it is not only as a political engine that the press has had a decided beneficial effect upon the public intelligence; it has generally been alive to the social and moral questions of the hour, and exposed religions charlatanry, and arrested the progress of dangerous social innovations, with the same fearlessness and vigour which it has shown in the case of political abuses. Political controversy, no doubt, has too often degenerated into licentiousness, and public men have been too often maligned, simply because they were political opponents--an evil which weakens the influence of journalism to an incalculable degree, because the people begin at last to attach little or no importance to charges levelled recklessly against public men. But it is not too much to say that the press of all parties is commencing to recognise its responsibilities to a degree that would not have been possible a few years ago. It is true the ineffable meanness of old times of partisan controversy will crop out constantly in certain quarters, and political writers are not always the safest guides in times of party excitement. But there is a healthier tone in public discussion, and the people are better able to eliminate the truth and come to a correct conclusion. Personalities are being gradually discouraged, and appeals more frequently made to the reason rather than to the passion and prejudice of party--a fact in itself some evidence of the progress of the readers in culture. The great change in the business basis on which the leading newspapers are now-a-days conducted, of itself must tend to modify political acrimony, and make them safer public guides. A great newspaper now-a-days must be conducted on the same principles on which any other business is carried on. The expenses of a daily journal are now so great that it requires the outlay of large capital to keep it up to the requirements of the time; in fact, it can best be done by joint-stock companies, rather than by individual effort. Slavish dependence on a Government or party, as in the old times of journalism, can never make a newspaper successful as a financial speculation, nor give it that circulation on which its influence in a large measure depends. The journal of the present day is a compilation of telegraphic despatches from all parts of the world, and of reports of all matters of local and provincial importance, with one or more columns of concise editorial comment on public topics of general interest: and the success with which this is done is the measure of its circulation and influence. Both the Globe and Mail illustrate this fact very forcibly; both journals being good newspapers, in every sense of the term, read by Conservatives and Liberals, irrespective of political opinions, although naturally depending for their chief support on a particular party. In no better way can we illustrate the great change that has taken place within less than half a century in the newspaper enterprise of this country than by comparing a copy of a journal of 1839 with one of 1880. Taking, in the first place, the issue of the Toronto British Colonist, for the 23rd October, 1839, we have before us a sheet, as previously stated, of twenty-four columns, twelve of which are advertisements and eight of extracts, chiefly from New York papers. Not a single editorial appeared in this number, though prominence was given to a communication describing certain riotous proceedings, in which prominent 'blues' took part, on the occasion of a public meeting attempted to be held at a Mr. Davis's house on Yonge Street, for the purpose of considering important changes about to take place in the political Constitution of the Canadas. Mr. Poulett Thompson had arrived in the St. Lawrence on the 16th, but the Colonist was only able to announce the fact on the 23rd of the month. New York papers took four days to reach Toronto--a decided improvement, however, on old times--and these afforded Canadian editors the most convenient means of culling foreign news. Only five lawyers advertised their places of business; Mr. and Mrs. Crombie announced the opening of their well-known schools. McGill College, at last, advertised that it was open to students--an important event in the educational history of Canada, which, however, received no editorial comment in the paper. We come upon a brief advertisement from Messrs. Armour & Ramsay, the well-known booksellers; but the only book they announced was that work so familiar to old-time students, 'Walkinghame's Arithmetic.' Another literary announcement was the publication of a work, by the Rev. R. Murray, of Oakville, on the 'Tendency and Errors of Temperance Societies'--then in the infancy of their progress in Upper Canada. One of the most encouraging notices was that of the Montreal Type Foundry, which was beginning to compete with American establishments, also advertised in the same issue--an evidence of the rapid progress of printing in Canada. Only one steamer was advertised, the Gore, which ran between Toronto and Hamilton; she was described as 'new, splendid, fast-sailing, and elegantly fitted up,' and no doubt she was, compared with the old batteaux and schooners which, not long before, had kept up communication with other parts of the Province. On the whole, this issue illustrated the fact that Toronto was making steady progress, and Upper Canada was no longer a mere wilderness. Many of my readers will recall those days, for I am writing of times within the memory of many Upper Canadians.

Now take an ordinary issue of the Mail, printed on the same day, in the same city, only forty-one years later. We see a handsome paper of eight closely-printed pages--each larger than a page of the Colonist--and fifty-six columns, sixteen of which are devoted to advertisements illustrative of the commercial growth, not only of Toronto, but of Ontario at large--advertisements of Banking, Insurance and Loan Companies, representing many millions of capital; of Railway and Steamship Lines, connecting Toronto daily with all parts of America and Europe; of various classes of manufactures, which have grown up in a quarter of a century or so. No less than five notices of theatrical and other amusements appear; these entertainments take place in spacious, elegant halls and opera houses, instead of the little, confined rooms which satisfied the citizens of Toronto only a few years ago. Some forty barristers and attorneys, physicians and surgeons--no, not all gentlemen, but one a lady--advertise their respective offices, and yet these are only representative of the large number of persons practising these professions in the same city. Leaving the advertisements and reviewing the reading matter, we find eleven columns devoted to telegraphic intelligence from all parts of the world where any event of interest has occurred a day or two before. Several columns are given up to religious news, including a lengthy report of the proceedings of the Baptist Union, meeting, for the first time, under an Act of Parliament of 1880--an Association intended for the promotion of missions, literature, and church work, into which famous John Bunyan would have heartily thrown himself, no longer in fear of being cast into prison. Four columns are taken up with sports and pastimes, such as lacrosse, the rifle, rowing, cricket, curling, foot-ball, hunting--illustrative of the growing taste among all classes of young men for such healthy recreation. Perhaps no feature of the paper gives more conclusive evidence of the growth of the city and province than the seven columns specially set apart to finance, commerce and marine intelligence, and giving the latest and fullest intelligence of prices in all places with which Canada has commercial transactions. Nearly one column of the smallest type is necessary to announce the arrivals and departures of the steam-tugs, propellers, schooners and other craft which make up the large inland fleet of the Western Province. We find reports of proceedings in the Courts in Toronto and elsewhere, besides many items of local interest. Five columns are made up of editorials and editorial briefs, the latter an interesting feature of modern journalism. The 'leader' is a column in length, and is a sarcastic commentary on the 'fallacious hopes' of the Opposition; the next article is an answer to one in the London Economist, devoted to the vexed question of protective duties in the Colonies; another refers to modern 'literary criticism,' one of the strangest literary products of this busy age of intellectual development. In all we have thirty-six columns of reading matter, remarkable for literary execution and careful editing, as well as for the moderate tone of its political criticism. It will be seen that there is only one advertisement of books in the columns of this issue, but the reason is that it is the custom only to advertise new works on Saturday, when the paper generally contains twelve pages, or eighty-four columns. On the whole, the issue of a very prominent Canadian paper illustrates not only the material development of Ontario in its commercial and advertising columns, but also the mental progress of the people, who demand so large an amount of reading matter at the cost of so much money and mental labour.

As the country increases in wealth and population, the Press must become undoubtedly still more a profession to which men of the highest ability and learning will attach themselves permanently, instead of being too often attracted, as heretofore, by the greater pecuniary rewards offered by other pursuits in life. Horace Greeley, Dana, Curtis, Whitelaw Reid and Bryant are among the many illustrious examples that the neighbouring States afford of men to whom journalism has been a profession, valued not simply for the temporary influence and popularity it gives, but as a great and powerful organ of public education on all the live questions of the day. The journals whose conductors are known to be above the allurements of political favour, even while they consistently sustain the general policy of a party, are those which most obviously become the true exponents of a sound public opinion, and the successful competitor for public favour in this, as in all other countries enjoying a popular system of government.


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