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P.G. Laurie and the Saskatchewan Herald

For the week of Monday August 22, 2005

On August 25, 1878, Patrick Gammie Laurie launched the first edition of the Saskatchewan Herald. This paper was the first to be published in the Northwest Territories.

P.G. Laurie
P.G. Laurie.
© Glenbow Archives / NA-1138-1
Born in New Pitsligo, Scotland, in 1835, Laurie immigrated to Canada in 1842 and settled with his family in Cobourg, Ontario. There he attended school and began his apprenticeship as a printer.

Laurie worked for and owned various newspapers in Ontario during his youth and, in 1869, made the decision to go to the Red River Settlement in Manitoba. Once in Red River, Laurie worked at the Nor’ Wester. He had only been there for two months when he was expelled from the settlement for refusing to print an article by the controversial Riel government. He returned east to Ontario to be with his family and remained there until 1878.

In the early summer of 1878, Laurie set out for Battleford in what was then the Northwest Territories and is now Saskatchewan. Taking 75 days, Laurie traveled by ox-cart, taking with him all of the supplies necessary to establish a newspaper. On August 25, Laurie began publishing the Saskatchewan Herald. This paper was published under Laurie’s direct supervision until his death and his family’s supervision until the time of its closure in 1938.

P.G. Laurie standing outside the office of the Saskatchewan Herald (1878-1884)
P.G. Laurie standing outside the office of the Saskatchewan Herald (1878-1884)
© Saskatchewan Archives Board / R-A 12656
Laurie was a nationalist with definite ideas about the way Canada should be settled and populated, and his views were similar to those published in other papers of that time. He felt that British or Anglo-Ontarian immigration was best for the region and if immigrants were not of these two origins that assimilation into the growing prairie culture was best. The newspaper published stories on many subjects, including the agricultural potential of the area, reprinted articles from European newspapers and parliamentary news concerning Western life.

For its contribution to western Canadian life the publication of the Saskatchewan Herald was designated a National Historic Event in 1954.

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