1884: La Presse & Other Quebec Curios

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

Founded in 1884 by William-Edmond Blumhart, La Presse’s ideology at the beginnings of its publication was to be an independent newspaper. Independence, however, was relative. The paper’s beginnings and its position towards neutrality stemmed from a bitter debate between Hector-Louis Langevin and Joseph-Adolphe Chapleau, two conservatives whose bases quarrelled by the means of the newspapers. William-Edmond Blumhart, caught in the middle of the storm, was in charge of Le Monde, one of two journals controlled by Joseph-Adolphe Chapleau, the other being La Minerve. When Chapleau’s rival Hector-Louis Lanvegin bought Le Monde, Blumhart bounced out of the paper and made a new paper: Le Nouveau Monde, which, due to its almost identical formatting to what Le Monde readers were used to, caused readership to become confused. Four days after Le Nouveau Monde commenced publication, La Presse entered into its shoes and sought itself to become the one and only competitor to La Minerve, but with a twist: it would not be let itself be controlled by a political party.

Even though it did not have any overt backing or radical proselytising like other journals in the past, La Presse nevertheless had its own bias in its editorial articles, in this case, a conservative bias that was shared between Blumhart and his associates. Unlike some of its competitors, however, La Presse was by no means a parrot repeating the party propaganda and also published articles from opposing sides that permitted debate and discussion among its middle-class readers. A small journal by today’s standards, only four pages for the daily and eight for the weekend, it included news both regional and international, opinion columns, and would also include small advertisements that served as spacing between all of the texts.

The newspaper struggled in the beginning and Blumhart sold it to Trefflé Berthiaume, another fellow conservative, in 1889. By the end of the 1890s, La Presse would sell 60 000 papers daily, a number that would double by the first decade of the twentieth century.

La Presse will have ended all paper editions by 2018.