1811: The Montreal Herald & Other Quebec Curios

Part of “The Canadas in Britain”, 1792-1827

Founded in 1811 by William Gray, the Montreal Herald became a major competitor to fellow English papers such as the Montreal Gazette. Originally a weekly paper as conceived by its founder, the newspaper became a daily seventy years later, in 1871. In its early years, it was largely operated by people of Scottish-descendent, including William Gray himself, the newspaper was a Presbyterian, pro-Tory (early Conservative) paper, like the leanings of one of its predecessors, The Quebec Mercury. The Herald’s headquarters were initially located on a road that no longer exists roughly located near Marché Beausecours. It later moved to a seven-storey building that is still standing on 415 rue Saint-Antoine ouest. The building itself, an architectural feat for its time, was made from a concrete frame and beams with an interior structure that required the assistance of university research to make it work.

Among other subjects it would support, the Herald would reject the American invasion of the Canadas, be one of the few if not the sole defenders of Chinese immigrants in Montreal in the late nineteenth century, and support women’s suffrage in the early twentieth century. Politician William Lyon Mackenzie was briefly a writer for the Herald. To keep up with the times, it would include a section in French. Its final editor was J. W. McConnell, who at the time was a governor of McGill University (and lends his name now to the McConnell building) and the owner of the Herald’s counterpart and competitor, the Montreal Star. The final edition of the Montreal Herald was in mid-October of 1957 after 146 years of publications. McConnell would inform his employees that the company was about to fold one day before they issued the final copy of the newspaper. By the end of the Herald, the company was losing more money than it made from a roughly 40 000 daily readers.

Back issues of the Montreal Herald are available at the Bibliothèques et Archives nationales du Québec (BAnQ) microfiches section. Check it out here.

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