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COLLARD, FREDERICK JOHN MARTIN, lawyer and journalist; b. probably in Lower Canada; d. 24 March 1848 in Charlottetown.

Frederick John Martin Collard emerged suddenly in Prince Edward Island public life in September 1844 when he advertised as a lawyer in the press, describing himself as a member of the Canadian bar with 16 years’ experience. One card he placed alluded to “efforts recently made to injure him,” perhaps a reference to the fact that in April he had been jailed in Halifax for allegedly having committed an act of “bestiality” on a male complainant. Because of ill health he had been released in May on his own recognizance; shortly afterwards he left Nova Scotia, and he failed to appear in court in July to face the charge. In October Robert Hodgson*, the Island’s attorney general, obtained certified evidence of these events, and it seems that this material was used to prevent Collard’s being called to the local bar. The following summer Collard was indicted and prosecuted for an assault with intent to commit sodomy, alleged to have taken place in Charlottetown on 15 Sept. 1844. Although he won an acquittal from the jury, pleading his own case against Hodgson and the solicitor general, James Horsfield Peters*, the notoriety clung to him, and, contrary to his hopes, he failed to generate business as a land agent.

Collard does not appear to have succeeded in any field on the Island until he became involved in the feud between the “family compact” and the lieutenant governor, Sir Henry Vere Huntley*, who had formed an alliance of convenience with the reformers. Collard possessed journalistic talents the oligarchy required, and he was to work as editor of several Charlottetown newspapers. The first appears to have been the Morning News, but he left in the autumn of 1845 when the publisher began to tilt towards Huntley. Soon afterwards, over the signature A British Colonist, he contributed letters on the controversy to the tory Islander and Royal Gazette. A 15-page pamphlet published over the name Junius during the legislative session of 1846 has been attributed to him; it represented the colony as gripped in a struggle between a despotic governor and popular institutions. He became a particularly close associate of Joseph Pope*, the speaker of the House of Assembly, who was waging a relentless vendetta against Huntley, and in the spring of 1846 a tory assemblyman, William Douse*, described Collard as Pope’s “secretary.”

An important participant in the battle was the Constitutionalist, issued between April and October 1846; its weekly staple was vituperative criticism of Huntley, and its editor was Collard. The lieutenant governor and Edward Whelan*, the journalistic champion of reform, believed that subsequently Collard served simultaneously as editor of the Islander and the Royal Gazette. In a sense his task was to counter the brilliant Whelan, who responded by publishing poetry and prose filled with double entendre concerning “Big Martin.” Huntley, who professed to regard Collard with abhorrence, credited him none the less with “extraordinary eloquence and great general ability.”

A competent and spirited writer, although somewhat verbose, Collard would probably have continued to play an important part in Island political journalism had he not died of erysipelas on 24 March 1848 after a brief illness. Obituaries in the Islander and the Royal Gazette stated only that he had been “Queen’s Counsel” for the Gaspé region of Lower Canada, but he seems to have led a troubled and unsettled life, at least in later years, for he had resided in New Brunswick and the Îles de la Madeleine, as well as Nova Scotia and Lower Canada, before arriving in Prince Edward Island. The attorney general of Nova Scotia, James William Johnston*, had favoured releasing him on his own recognizance in 1844 because he thought him unlikely to be able to find bail; on the Island, prior to becoming Pope’s assistant, he was, according to Huntley, “nearly in a state of starvation”; and his property at the time of his death was valued at less than £50.

Collard’s significance in Island history is his role in the maturing of political debate: he was one of the first to write regular editorial articles on local politics from a conservative perspective. His employment indicated recognition by the tories that, with growing demands for political change, it would be prudent to cultivate public opinion systematically. His death left a void which was not filled until the hiring of Duncan Maclean*, a former colleague of Whelan, by the Islander in March 1850.

Ian Ross Robertson

[F. J. M. Collard is identified as the author of An address to the people of Prince Edward Island, published under the pseudonym Junius ([Charlottetown, 1846]), in a copy at the PAPEI, which bears the handwritten notes “Collard’s Pamphlet,” and “low vulgar insolence and malice of an inferior mind.”  i.r.r.]

PAPEI, RG 6, Supreme Court, case papers, R. v. F. J. M. Collard, 1845; minutes, 26 June, 3 July 1845. PRO, CO 226/69: 175–77, 208–11; 226/70: 289–90; 226/71: 70–72, 120–29, 134–47, 288, 292, 481; 226/75: 19 (mfm. at PAPEI). Supreme Court of P.E.I. (Charlottetown), Estates Division, papers of administration for F. J. M. Collard estate. P.E.I., House of Assembly, Journal, 1846, app.R: 94, 96, 98; 1847: 142–43; Legislative Council, Journal, 1847: 66–67, 69. Constitutionalist (Charlottetown), 27 April–17 Oct. 1846 (mfm. at PAPEI). Examiner (Charlottetown), 18 Sept., 2 Oct., 13 Nov., 18 Dec. 1847; 11, 27 March, 18 Sept. 1848. Islander, 22 Nov., 6 Dec. 1845; 18 April (extra), 1 May, 23 Oct. 1846; 24 March 1848. Morning News (Charlottetown), 18 Sept. 1844. Palladium (Charlottetown), 26 Sept. 1844. Royal Gazette (Charlottetown), 1 Oct. 1844; 1–8 July, 2–9 Dec. 1845; 9 April 1846 (extra); 7–14, 28 Sept. 1847; 1, 15 Feb., 21, 24 (extra), 28 March 1848. W. L. Cotton, “The press in Prince Edward Island,” Past and present of Prince Edward Island . . . , ed. D. A. MacKinnon and A. B. Warburton (Charlottetown, [1906]), 115. [This work is the only secondary source to mention Collard.  i.r.r.] Examiner, 11 May 1863. Islander, 25 June 1852, 25 Jan. 1856.

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Cite This Article

Ian Ross Robertson, “COLLARD, FREDERICK JOHN MARTIN,” in Dictionary of Canadian Biography, vol. 7, University of Toronto/Université Laval, 2003–, accessed October 4, 2023, http://www.biographi.ca/en/bio/collard_frederick_john_martin_7E.html.

The citation above shows the format for footnotes and endnotes according to the Chicago manual of style (16th edition). Information to be used in other citation formats:

Permalink:   http://www.biographi.ca/en/bio/collard_frederick_john_martin_7E.html
Author of Article:   Ian Ross Robertson
Publication Name:   Dictionary of Canadian Biography, vol. 7
Publisher:   University of Toronto/Université Laval
Year of publication:   1988
Year of revision:   1988
Access Date:   October 4, 2023