1878: Honoré Beaugrand & Other Quebec Curios

Part of “The Road to Canada”, 1864-1899

Front page of “La Patrie”, 1879. Photo courtesy of the City of Montréal/Bibliothèque et archives nationales du Québec (call number: 669 JOU). Front page of “La Patrie”, 1879. Photo courtesy of the City of Montréal/Bibliothèque et archives nationales du Québec (call number: 669 JOU).

Not only the terminus of East End’s green line, Honoré Beaugrand was a person with quite the interesting life. A lifelong traveller and politician, Beaugrand’s family had been involved with the Parti Patriote raised Beaugrand as a staunch liberal. A military man at a young age, he left his home for Mexico, where he fought alongside French soldiers, supporting the emperor of Mexico, Austrian-born Maximilian I, a fight that ended with Maximilian’s execution in 1867 and the abolishment of the Mexican monarchy. Travelling across the United States, Beaugrand became a journalist, writing for several newspapers before he returned to Montreal in 1878. His skills honed, he set himself a task to create his own newspaper.

Beaugrand founded the newspaper La Patrie in 1879 initially as a daily. Under Beaugrand’s leadership, the paper set itself up as a spiritual successor to the Parti rouge. Unlike an afternoon paper such as The Montreal Star, La Patrie was a paper published at the end of the day, back when some newspapers published twice daily. Over the years, the paper included features not commonly utilised by its predecessors: it was the first to include overt advertising inserts in the paper and even included a column written by and intended exclusively for women later in its circulation. Provoking thought and discussion with conservatives and liberals as it reported and commented on events, the paper also included a section for Beaugrand to write about his travels around the world. Not only a military man and a soldier, Beaugrand was a published author, immortalising traditional French-Canadian stories such as the Chasse-galerie, a story about fur traders condemned to sail in a flying canoe, at first in his newspaper, then in a published book.

Elected Mayor of Montreal in 1885, Beaugrand’s challenges during the three years he served the city included flooding and smallpox outbreaks. He maintained ownership of La Patrie through his tenure as mayor, but sold the paper to Joseph-Israël Tarte, a conservative turned liberal. For many years, La Patrie was a fierce contender for another journal, La Presse, and the two newspapers fought for the readership until the daily published its last edition in the 1950s. The paper’s successor, at least in name only, popped up at the same time as the daily folded and published its last edition in 1978.

Read back issues of La Patrie here.

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