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Periodical Literature, Canada

Periodical Literature (Canada)

Under the French domination, periodical literature, still in its infancy in France even as late as the close of the eighteenth century, was totally unknown in Canada. The first newspapers founded in the colony, the "Quebec Gazette" (1764) and the "Montreal Gazette" (1778), both weeklies with a double-colunm page alternately in English and in French, without being professedly Catholic, were not unfriendly towards the Church.


The first periodical of importance was "Le Canadien", founded in Quebec (1806) by Pierre Bédard. Although essentially political and patriotic, nevertheless by its vindication of religious as well as civil liberty, and owing to the unexceptionable Catholicism of the French Canadian population whose interests it represented, "Le Canadien" may safely be styled a Catholic organ. This same principle applies to the greater number of French papers published in Canada. After a series of suppressions and interruptions, "Le Canadien" (first weekly, then daily) lasted for over fifty more years, during a long period of which its chief editor was Etienne Parent, whose valiant pen ably defended the rights of his fellow-citizens and helped to maintain their national dignity and autonomy.

Next in order of importance, if not of date, follows "La Minerve" (first weekly, then daily), founded in Montreal (1826) by Augustin-Norbert Morin. It had a career of seventy years, and numbered among its ablest editors Antoine Gérin-Lajoie, Raphael Bellemare, and Joseph Tassé. The chief organ of the English-speaking Catholics was the "True Witness" (weekly), founded in Montreal (1850) by George E. Clerk, a convert from Anglicanism, who loyally and generously served the cause of the True Faith during his prolonged editorship. The "True Witness" had been preceded by the short-lived "Irish Vindicator" of Montreal (1828), and still exists under the lately assumed name of "The Tribune".

In 1857 was founded in Quebec "Le Courrier du Canada" (first weekly, then daily). It had an honourable and fruitful career of forty-five years under the leadership of such learned, vigorous, and elegant writers and uncompromising Catholics as Doctor Joseph Charles Taché, Auguste-Eugène Aubry, and Thomas Chapais. Montreal gave birth to two entirely Catholic daily papers: "Le Nouveau-Monde" (1867-81) with the Honourable Alphonse Desjardins as chief editor, and "L'Etendard" (1883-) under the direction of the Honourable Senator Anselme Trudel. A weekly, "Les Mélanges Religieux", founded in Montreal (1839) by Reverend J. C. Prince, lasted till 1846. "L'Opinion Publique", an illustrated weekly, published in Montreal for fourteen years (1870-83) counted many brilliant littérateurs among its contributors. Most noteworthy among the monthlies are, in order of date, "Le Journal de l'Instruction Publique", founded in Montreal (1857) by the Honourable Pierre-J.-O. Chauveau, a distinguished orator and writer, who was its chief editor until its cessation (1878); "Les Soirées Canadiennes", Quebec (1861-5); "Le Foyer Canadien", Quebec (1863-6); "La Revue Canadienne", Montreal (1864), still flourishing under the direction of the Montreal branch of the University of Laval; "Le Canada Français", semi-monthly, edited by the parent University of Quebec (1888-91). These five reviews form a collection replete with the best productions of French Canadian literature.

For divers reasons, the Catholic Press in Lower Canada, in fact throughout the whole Dominion, with the exception of a few short-lived ventures cannot boast of a daily newspaper published in the English language. In the Province of Quebec the only organ of the English-speaking Catholics is the above mentioned "Tribune" (weekly). Of the existing French Catholic dailies, "L'Action Sociale", founded in Quebec (1907) by Archbishop L.-N. Bégin, is totally independent of politics, appreciating men and events from an exclusively Catholic and non-partisan viewpoint; its present circulation, comprising the weekly edition, is 28,000, as compared with the 90,000 of the non-Catholic "Montreal Star". Another, "Le Devoir", advocating nationalism; founded in Montreal (1909) and directed by Henri Bourassa, has also a good circulation. The foremost weekly, still in existence, is "La Vérité", founded in Quebec (1881) by Jules-Paul Tardivel, who has been called the Canadian Veuillot. This paper, during the career of its founder, exerted a considerable influence on Catholic opinion. Le Courrier de St-Hyacinthe" (1853), "Le Journal de Waterloo"(1879), "Le Bien Public", Three-Rivers (1909), all weeklies still in operation, deserve a special mention for their soundness of judgment and dutiful submission to the guidance of the spiritual authority. Among the existing monthlies may be mentioned "Le Naturaliste Canadien", Quebec, founded by the Abbé Léon Provancher(1868), the only Catholic scientific review in Canada; "La Nouvelle-France", a high-class review with a comprehensive programme; "Le Bulletin du Parlerfrançais", a technical review of a chiefly philological character, both founded in Quebec in 1902; "L'Enseignement Primaire", a pedagogical review, now in its thirty-second year, published in Quebec, and distributed by the Government to all the Catholic primary schools of the province, renders good service to the cause of elementary education. The outlook of the Catholic Press in the old French province seems very hopeful, thanks to the improvement of higher education, to the inculcation of a more thorough Catholic spirit, and a more dutiful compliance with the directions of the Vicar of Christ.


The first Catholic paper published in Upper Canada was the "Catholic", founded and edited in Kingston (1830) by Very Rev. William Peter MacDonald, and published later in Hamilton (1841-44). In 1837 Toronto had its first Catholic organ, "The Mirror", which lasted till 1862. It was followed successively by "The Canadian Freeman" (1858-63). under the editorship of J. J. Mallon and James G. Moylan; "The Irish Canadian", established by Patrick Boyle (1863-92; 1900-01); "The Tribune" (1874-85), with the Hon. Timothy Warren Anglin for its latest editor; "The Catholic Record", London (1878), is by far the most flourishing Catholic weekly in Canada, with its circulation of 27,000. Toronto likewise claims the following noteworthy Catholic periodical: "The Catholic Weekly Review" (1887-93); its editors were successively F. W. G. Fitzgerald, H. F. McIntosh, P. DeGruchy, Revs. F. W. Flannery and J. D. McBride; in 1893 it was merged into the "Catholic Register", whose editors were, in order of date, Rev. Doctor J. R. Teefy, J. C. Walsh, and P. P. Cronin. In 1908, under the title of "Register-Extension", it became the organ of the Catholic Church Extension Society, under the editorship of Rev. A. E. Burke, D.D.


Nova Scotia

Though Halifax can boast of the first newspaper in Canada, now including the Maritime Provinces (the "Royal Gazette", 1752), the first Catholic periodical, "The Cross", was founded only in 1845, by the future Archbishop W. Walsh, and lasted till 1857. By far the most important Catholic organ of the province is "The Casket" (weekly), of Antigonish, founded in 1852 and still in full activity. Its editorial chair was successively filled by the learned theologians, Doctors M. McGregor, N. McNeil, and Alex. McDonald, the two last named since appointed respectively to the Sees of Vancouver and Victoria, British Columbia. Sureness of doctrine and vigilance in denouncing contemporary errors are its chief characteristics.

New Brunswick

"The Freeman", a political paper, was founded in St. John, 1851, with Hon. T. W. Anglin as editor. He was succeeded by W. R. Reynolds. Under the name of "The New Freeman" since 1902, its character is exclusively Catholic. While strongly advocating temperance and total abstinence, it strives to enlighten non-Catholics and to foster vocations for the priesthood. French Acadian journalism is chiefly represented by "Le Moniteur Acadien", founded at Shediac (1866), and "L'Evangeline", of Moncton.

Prince Edward Island

The first Catholic paper of the island was the "Palladium" (1843-5). It was followed by the "Examiner" (1847-67), both edited by Edward Whelan. Then came "The Vindicator" (1862-4), strictly non-political, to be succeeded by "The Charlottetown Herald", still in existence.


Catholic journalism in the north-west begins in 1871 with "Le Métis", the organ of the half-breeds, under the editorship of Hon. J. Royal. Next comes "Le Manitoba", a valiant champion of the Catholic schools, founded by Hon. J. Bernier, and now edited by his son. The first Catholic paper in English was "The North-West Review", begun in 1885, long edited by Rev. L. Drummond, S.J., and still fighting the good fight. The German Catholics have also their organ, "West Canada", and the Poles their "Gazeta Katolicka". These three papers are issued by the same printing-house in Winnipeg, under the patronage of the present Archbishop of St. Boniface (1911). A Ruthenian Catholic paper will shortly appear under the same auspices. "Le Patriote" began publication in 1910, at Duck Lake, Sask. Edmonton, Alta, has "Le Courrier de l'Ouest", and Vancouver, British Columbia, "The Western Catholic".

TURCOTTE, Le Canada sous l'Union (Quebec, 1871); DIONNE, Inventaire chronologique (Quebec, 1905); MORICE, Hist. of the Catholic Church in Western Canada (Toronto, 1909); HOPKINS, Canada (Quebec, 1899).


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