MILES, STEPHEN, printer, newspaper publisher, and Methodist minister; b. 19 Oct. 1789 at Royalton, Vt, son of Ephraim Miles; m. first 22 June 1812, Laura Spafford of Kingston, Upper Canada, and then 21 Aug. 1822 Lucinda Daniels of Windsor, Vt; d. 13 Dec. 1870 at Clark’s Mills (Camden East), Ont.
At age 15 Stephen Miles was apprenticed to Nahum Mower, a printer, in Windsor (Vt), and in 1807 immigrated with him to Montreal where they established the weekly Canadian Courant and Montreal Advertiser. In June 1810 Mower and Charles Kendall, a printer in his employ, issued a prospectus for a weekly newspaper to be published in Kingston. By the time the first issue of the Kingston Gazette appeared on 25 September, Mower had relinquished control to Kendall and Miles, though Mower was mentioned as co-publisher with Kendall since Miles was still technically an apprentice and under age.
In the early 19th century printers were often newspaper proprietors or publishers as well as editors; so it was with Kendall and Miles, though their editorials were brief and non-controversial. Of greater interest were articles submitted in response to the editors’ general invitation to “gentlemen of science and leisure, the divine, the moralist, the poet, and the politician.” John Strachan as “Reckoner” contributed 70 essays, and Richard Cartwright* as “Falkland,” John Young* of Nova Scotia, and Barnabas Bidwell* also wrote occasionally for the Gazette.
The partnership lasted until March 1811 when Miles withdrew to seek employment as a journeyman printer (having now completed the term of his apprenticeship), first in Plattsburgh, N.Y., and then in Montreal. In September 1811 Kendall sold the newspaper to Cartwright and a group of Kingston business and professional men. They recalled Miles and sold back the paper to him on easy terms. The issue for 17 Nov. 1811 was the first to be “printed and published by Stephen Miles.” It was the only newspaper in Upper Canada to continue publication throughout the War of 1812–14, although its appearance was interrupted at times by Miles’ militia duty and by his inability to procure paper. War news was prominent and first hand accounts appeared on the naval engagement of 10 Nov. 1812 in Kingston harbour and on the battle of Crysler’s Farm.
In 1815, under government contract, Miles published the statutes of the 2nd and 3rd sessions of the 6th parliament of Upper Canada. Miles also reprinted Robert Gourlay’s first “Address to the resident landowners” from the Upper Canada Gazette (York) and his later letters and addresses from the Niagara Gleaner. At first a supporter of Gourlay, Miles turned against him as he indulged more and more in personalities. A break in their relations came when Gourlay castigated the Hagerman brothers, Daniel and Christopher*, along with John Macaulay*. Miles then published an unsigned editorial protest written, Gourlay discovered, by John Alexander Pringle, a Kingston civil servant. In an angry letter to the Gazette, Gourlay accused Miles of double dealing, of forswearing his Methodist principles, and of betraying him to the authorities, for it was on Miles’ oath that Gourlay was first arrested for having published a libellous pamphlet. After Gourlay’s acquittal, Miles published a pamphlet by John Simpson* highly critical of Gourlay. Gourlay’s continued resentment was vented in letters to the press, a form of persecution which led Miles to sell the Kingston Gazette at the end of 1818 to Macaulay and Pringle; they changed the name to the Kingston Chronicle and retained Miles as printer but not editor. In 1821, however, Miles transferred his services as printer to the rival Kingston paper, the Upper Canada Herald, owned and edited by his brother-in-law, Hugh C. Thomson*.
A member of the Methodist group in Kingston, Miles was a class leader and occasional local preacher. In 1828 he left the Herald to establish the first religious weekly in Upper Canada, the Kingston Gazette and Religious Advocate, which ran from 20 June 1828 to 26 March 1830. It was outclassed after December 1829 by the official Methodist organ, Egerton Ryerson*’s Christian Guardian, but Ryerson in September 1830 paid tribute to its “many entertaining and profitable articles.” Miles was by then engaged as printer of a Presbyterian journal, the Canadian Watchman, published by Ezra S. Ely. When it folded in 1831, he moved to Prescott and bought from J. Ketchum Averill the Prescott Telegraph which, re-named the Grenville Gazette, he published from January 1832 to April 1833.
At the end of April 1833, Miles sold the Gazette to Donald M’Leod* and returned to Kingston to become foreman in the pressroom of the Chronicle. Then, in 1835, Miles, aged 46, decided to give up the printing trade and was received on trial in the Wesleyan Methodist Church. He was ordained in 1840. By the time he was superannuated in 1851, he had served on 13 different circuits in what is now eastern Ontario, the more important of which were Gananoque, Bath, Marmora, Madoc, Newburgh, and Loughborough Township. As a preacher he was earnest and diligent, though considered ineffectual in the pulpit. As a pastor, however, he was popular and a general favourite with children. “Few ministers,” it was said at the time of his death, “have been more beloved.” Becoming blind late in life, he made his home with a married daughter at Clark’s Mills, enfeebled in body and mind. He was survived by his daughter and by a son, Elijah, printer and proprietor of the Hastings Chronicle in Belleville.
[Stephen Miles wrote at the request of a friend an account of his early days as a printer in Kingston for the Chronicle & Gazette, 6 Jan. 1847; he also left a holograph account of the founding of the Kingston Gazette on the flyleaf of a bound copy of the first volume now in the Douglas Library, Queen’s University (Kingston). Obituaries appeared in the Kingston Daily News, 16 Dec. 1870, the Toronto Globe, 19 Dec. 1870, the Christian Guardian, 14 Dec. 1870, and the Wesleyan Methodist Church in Canada, Minutes (Toronto), 1871. h.p.g.] G. H. Cornish, Hand-book of Canadian Methodism . . . (Toronto, 1867). William Canniff, History of the settlement of Upper Canada (Ontario), with special reference to the Bay Quinté (Toronto, 1869; repr. as The settlement of Upper Canada, intro. D. W. Swainson, Belleville, Ont., 1971). H. P. Gundy, Early printers and printing in the Canadas (Toronto, 1957; 2nd ed., 1964).