19 February

Laurie's office at Battleford, 1878

Patrick Laurie Honoured

Some of Canada's best newspapers were founded on shoestrings by men like Patrick Laurie who began his career by publishing the Owen Sound Times in the 1850's at the age of twenty.

Laurie's next venture was the Essex Recorder, but his ambition was to publish a newspaper in the prairies and he moved to Fort Garry in 1869, just as Canada bought the territory that had been controlled by the Hudson's Bay Company.

During the Red River uprising Laurie was such a thorn in Riel's side that Riel took over his paper, the Nor-wester, and offered $2,000 for his arrest. Laurie had to escape across the border and go to Windsor, Ontario.

Laurie's heart was still in the West, and in 1878, he loaded four Red River carts with equipment and set out for Battleford. He began publishing the Saskatchewan Herald in 1878. Although the railway had not reached Battleford, it was on the telegraph line connecting Winnipeg and Edmonton so Laurie was able to send news to other parts of Canada. The Saskatchewan Herald kept people informed about the events that were leading up to the Northwest Rebellion of 1885. Battleford itself was besieged by Poundmaker's Indians for nearly a month (see April 24), and Laurie took his place in the Home Guard.

After the rebellion, the people in the Battleford area paid Laurie a magnificent tribute, collecting a purse of $220 for him. This does not seem much today, but it was "the widow's mite." The entire budget of the government of the Northwest Territories in 1879 was only $237.37!

On February 19, 1887, the Edmonton Bulletin said: "If any editor ever deserved such recognition, the editor of the Herald is that man. He has been engaged in publishing a two-horse paper in a one-horse town for so many years, that it is about time the latter tried to even up a little."


19 February

-1631    The first Lutheran baptism in Canada took place at Quebec.

-1732    Religious houses were forbidden to shelter fugitives from justice.

-1860    The ship Hungarian was lost off Cape Sable, Nova Scotia, with 205 lives. 1864 Parliament met at Quebec.

-1873    C.P.R. received its charter. (It was later replaced by a new company as the result of a campaign funds scandal.)

-1889    Gabriel Dumont was pardoned for his part in the Northwest Rebellion.

-1897    The Women's Institute was organized by Mrs. Adelaide Hunter Hoodless at Stoney Creek, Ontario. Later it spread through Canada and Britain.

-1911    Japan renounced a trade treaty with Canada.

-1920    Shareholders of the Grand Trunk Railway ratified its sale to the government.