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MURRAY, LOUISA ANNIE – Volume XII (1891-1900)

b. 23 May 1818 in Carisbrooke, England


Responsible Government

Sir John A. Macdonald

From the Red River Settlement to Manitoba (1812–70)

Sir Wilfrid Laurier

Sir George-Étienne Cartier


The Fenians

Women in the DCB/DBC

The Charlottetown and Quebec Conferences of 1864

Introductory Essays of the DCB/DBC

The Acadians

For Educators

The War of 1812 

Canada’s Wartime Prime Ministers

The First World War

The Conservative Hold on Power
Original title:  Phrenological Chart of the Head of the Country (Sir John A. Macdonald)/Library and Archives Canada, Acc. No. 1937-455

Source: Link


The Press

Literacy rates were high in Canada in the 1800s, and the partisan press occupied an important place in politics and everyday life. Initially, John A. MACDONALD relied on the Toronto Daily Mail, a newspaper he helped start, as a medium for his message. When it was taken in an independent direction by its maverick editor Edward FARRER in the mid 1880s, Macdonald turned to the Empire, established in 1887.

William SOUTHAM and a group of Conservatives in Hamilton, Ont., bought the Hamilton Spectator in 1877 for political purposes:

“[Southam] impressed his backers by plunging into the election of 1878 and attacking the Liberal government of Alexander Mackenzie*. The Spectator ridiculed the modest tariffs Mackenzie had introduced to protect home industry and championed the cause of Sir John A. Macdonald*s more aggressive National Policy. The connection between the Conservative policy of protectionism for home industry and Hamilton’s potential as Canada’s industrial and manufacturing centre was obvious to Southam. From the moment that he assumed control, the Spectator was a powerful voice for the Conservative Party. The paper published lists of Liberals who had been disgraced, and there was journalistic warfare with Hamilton’s Liberal Times. To be sure that no one missed the point, Southam headed his editorial columns with an image of the Canadian Red Ensign above the provocative rubric ‘Our Battle Cry: Protection to Home Industries.’”

French-language newspapers were also active in partisan politics, as seen in this excerpt from the biography of Joseph TASSÉ:

“In December 1868 Tassé went to work for La Minerve (Montréal), of which Duvernay and his brother Louis-Napoléon were the proprietors. Formerly the voice of the Patriote and Reform parties of Louis-Joseph Papineau* and Louis-Hippolyte La Fontaine*, La Minerve, which remained the pre-eminent French-language newspaper in the city, had become the unofficial organ of the Conservative party of George-Étienne Cartier* and John A. Macdonald.” 

Joseph-Israël TARTE was another partisan publisher in Quebec:

“With funds advanced by the Conservative party, [Tarte] acquired Le Canadien and its weekly edition, Le Cultivateur, on 12 June 1875. On 17 July he went into partnership with Louis-Georges Desjardins. Tarte dealt with editorial matters, with the bookkeeping to some extent, and with wheedling out of Hector-Louis Langevin and Thomas McGreevy* the printing contracts and donations that enabled Le Canadien to survive financially.”

Some of the most striking criticisms of Macdonald could be found in Liberal John Wilson BENGOUGH’s sketch cartoons in the magazine Grip (Toronto), and reproduced in many newspapers:

“The Pacific Scandal of 1873 offered Bengough an opportunity to express unlimited moral outrage – especially pictorially. Indeed, it was that controversy which provided Grip with an opportunity to win a wide audience. Bengough’s often reprinted cartoons from this period captured the essence of John A.’s physiognomy: his prominent nose, sly eyes, fashionable coiffure, and nonchalant attitude contrasted, for example, with Alexander Mackenzie*’s upright Scottish Presbyterian mien. ‘I admit I took the money and bribed the electors with it,’ Bengough’s Macdonald remarks. ‘Is there anything wrong about that?’ The question was certainly rhetorical.”

For more information on Macdonald and the press, please consult the following biographies.

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