Place of Publication: East Branch (?) and/or later Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada
Frequency: “Published Semi-Monthly” (Vol. 1, No. 2)
Volume and Issue Data: Vol. 1, No. 2, Wednesday, March 14, 1866
Size and Format: 11.5 x 17 (?)
Editor/Publisher: John James Stewart
Title Changes and Continuation: Editor went on to become the founding editor of the province’s major paper, The Chronicle-Herald
General Description and Notes:
According to Dalhousie University’s Archives and Special Collections J.J. Stewart Maritime Collection website’s introduction of the collection,
“When he was 35, John James Stewart (1844-1907) decided to leave his Halifax law firm and become the editor of a fledgling provincial daily newspaper. His family greeted the news with skepticism and concern. J.J. Stewart had already left a good teaching position and the principalship of the Amherst Academy in order to become a lawyer. To give up law after only four years seemed such a waste. J.J. Stewart quickly proved that his decision was a good one. Within five years he had shrewdly developed his Morning Herald into the province’s most successful newspaper.
“In retrospect, J.J. Stewart’s decision to become a newspaper editor should not have been a total surprise. When he was 22, J.J. Stewart had edited and put out his own handwritten temperance newspaper, The True Templar [emphasis added]. He also had a deep respect for the power of the printed word; indeed, he viewed it “as the most powerful of all human forces …” A man of strong political, social, and religious convictions, Stewart held definite opinions and possessed the writing skills required to present them effectively. The editorial page of a newspaper would and did provide J.J. Stewart with an ideal outlet.
“When it was clear that his newspaper was on a solid footing, Stewart branched out into the banking business. He rose to the presidency of both the Acadia Loan Corporation and the People’s Bank of Halifax. A strong Conservative, Stewart also devoted many hours to party affairs and made two unsuccessful bids for election to the provincial assembly.
“In addition to his newspaper and banking work, J.J. Stewart took an active part in the social, religious, and intellectual life of Halifax. Although a member of the Masons, the Navy League, the Good Templars, and the YMCA, Stewart’s primary commitments were to the North British Society and the Nova Scotia Historical Society. It was to the latter organization that he presented his landmark paper on early journalism in Nova Scotia. His carefully researched and well-written paper is still the authoritative source for information about the beginnings of the newspaper industry in Nova Scotia and Canada. J.J. Stewart clearly had a talent for historical writing.
“Away from the public eye, Stewart conducted a lifelong study of the history of Nova Scotia. No aspect of Nova Scotia’s past was neglected. Even material about major events which had impacted on Nova Scotia was carefully acquired and studied. The American revolution, the roots of Canadian federalism, works of major British authors, agricultural chemistry, and the depression in the West Indies were just a few of the related topics investigated by J.J. Stewart.
“Unlike the other major Nova Scotia bibliophile of the period, T.B. Akins, J.J. Stewart did not concentrate on book-length works. Half of his collection of over 3,000 works is in pamphlet form and many are what would have been considered ephemeral even in his era. Due to his interest in Nova Scotia’s printing history and in all aspects of Nova Scotia life, he collected everything from church bulletins of special services to the annual reports of the Micmac Missionary Society. He was especially diligent in collecting early newspapers, magazines, and almanacs, materials which provide valuable insight into all aspects of nineteenth century provincial life.
“In mid-February of 1907, J.J. Stewart was badly burned by flames from an overturned oil stove in his home. Two weeks later, Nova Scotia lost one of its most capable newspapermen and devoted boosters. Following the settlement of his estate, his widow presented his impressive historical library to Dalhousie University. Although his untimely death silenced his pen, J.J. Stewart has provided the resources for future researchers to study and write about the history of Nova Scotia.”
According to Karen Smith of the Dalhousie University Libraries (in correspondence with the HN editor), “It obviously existed in at least two issues since we have a Vol. 1, no. [sic] 2 issue. It is in very fragile condition so I could not copy the whole issue for you.” She goes on to note that
“John James Stewart was just 21 years old in March 1866. He grew up in a very small rural Nova Scotia community, but quickly demonstrated a scholarly aptitude and went on to become a lawyer, businessman, and the founding editor of what is still our major provincial paper, The Chronicle-Herald. He also was a very knowledgeable book collector and his excellent collection was donated to Dalhousie University upon his untimely death in 1907. In early life, J.J. Stewart was obviously a temperance man.”
Bibliography: Stewart, J. J. “Early journalism in Nova Scotia,” in Collections of the Nova Scotia Historical Society, 1888, Vol. 6, pp. 91 – 122
Link: Dalhousie University’s Archives and Special Collections J.J. Stewart Maritime Collection website
Locations: Special Collections, Killam Memorial Library, Dalhousie University Libraries, Halifax, Nova Scotia