The Quebec Gazette/La Gazette de Quebec began
publication on June 21, 1764, a little less than five years after the Battle of the Plains
of Abraham had delivered Quebec into the hands of the British on September 13, 1759.
Consisting primarily of government announcements and news items that appear in both
English and French, the newspaper's purposes and aims are defined in the Prospectus that
appeared in its first issue:
The P R I N T E R S to the P U B L I
As every kind of knowledge is not only
entertaining and instructive to individuals, but a benefit to the community, there is
great reason to hope, that a N E W S-P A P E R, properly conducted, and written
with ACCURACY, FREEDOM, and IMPARTIALITY,
cannot fail of meeting with universal encouragement; especially as it is allowed by
all, that such a paper is at present much wanted in this colony.
Every one expects, and expects with
reason, that when the attention of the publick is sollicited, the principles should be
laid down, on which the claim to publick favour is founded.
Our design is therefore to publish in
English and French, under the title of THE QUEBEC GAZETTE, a view of
foreign affairs, and political transactions; from which a judgment may be formed of the
interests and connections of the several powers of Europe: We shall also take
particular care to collect the transactions, and occurrences of our mother-country, and to
introduce every remarkable event, uncommon debate, extraordinary performance, and
interesting turn of affairs, that shall be thought to merit the notice of the reader as
matter of entertainment, or that can be of service to the publick as inhabitants of an
With regard to the MATERIAL
OCCURRENCES of the American Colonies, and West-Indian
Islands, we may venture to affirm, that from the extensive correspondence established
for this purpose in each of them, many interesting TRUTHS will be
laid before the publick, with all becoming impartiality and candour.
The rigour of winter preventing the
arrival of ships from Europe, and in a great measure interrupting the ordinary
intercourse with the southern provinces, during that season, it will be necessary, in a
paper designed for general perusal, and publick utility, to provide some things of general
entertainment, independent of foreign intelligence; we shall, therefore, on such occasions
present our readers with such Originals, both in Prose and Verse,
as will please the FANCY, and instruct the JUDGMENT.
And here we beg leave to observe, that we shall have nothing so much at heart,
as the support of VIRTUE and MORALITY, and
be considered as necessary to this collection; interspersed with other chosen pieces, and
curious essays, extracted from the most celebrated authors: So that blending PHILOSOPHY,
with POLITICKS, HISTORY, &c. the youth of
both sexes will be improved, and persons of all ranks agreeably and usefully entertained.Upon
the whole, we will labour to attain to all the exactness that so much variety will permit;
and give as much variety as will consist with a reasonable exactness. And as this
part of our project cannot be carried into execution without the correspondence of the INGENIOUS,
we shall take all opportunities of acknowledging our obligations, to those who shall
take the trouble of furnishing any matter which shall tend to entertainment, or
As many disappointments may accrue to
such subscribers as reside in the remote parts of the country, by want of care in those to
be employed in distributing our papers; we pray such gentlemen as may hereafter subscribe,
as also those who have already subscribed to this undertaking, to point out to us (in
writing) their proper address, and the particular conveyances by which they would chuse to
have their papers sent.
Advertisements, the use of which is
so well known to every body, by their effects on the sale of lands, and goods, will be
inserted with particular care, and at reasonable prices. And as our papers will not
only circulate through the several capitals, and other cities and towns of the British
colonies in America, and through the Islands in the West-Indies, but
also through the trading ports of Great-Britain, and Ireland, by which
means, those who advertise therein, cannot fail of a very extensive correspondence.
This is a sketch of the plan on which
we propose to establish this paper, and as such an undertaking must in its infancy be
attended with a heavy expence, we flatter ourselves that it will meet such father
encouragement as the execution thereof may deserve.
We take this earliest opportunity of
acknowledging the favours we have received from the GENTLEMEN of
this city, who have generously subscribed to our paper, and whose example will, we hope,
influence a number sufficient to enable us to carry on our undertaking with a prospect of
Our intentions to please the Whole,
without offence to any Individual, will be better evinced by our practice,
then by writing volumes on this subject. This one thing we beg may be believed, That
PARTY PREJUDICE, or PRIVATE SCANDAL,
will never find a place in this PAPER.
To the P U B L I C K.
As every considerate mind is solicitous to know the
State of the World about him, and the Circumstances of the several Nations, joint
Inhabitants of the Universe with him, so it must be an additional Satisfaction to be
acquainted from Time to Time with the Events and important Transactions in the different
Quarters of the Globe: And tho' the Ferment into which all Europe was lately
thrown, by the Calamities of a general War, is now happily subsided, yet there is an
inherent Propensity lodged in every Breast to pry into the daily Events that happen in the
World, and even into Futurity itself: This Principle can only be gratified in its most
extensive Latitude by Means of the Press. "The "Knowledge of Letters, says
a late celebrated Writer, is one of "the greatest Blessings that ever God bestowed on
the Children "of Men: By this Means we preserve for our own Use, through "all
our Lives, what our Memory would have lost in a few Days; "and lay up a rich Treasure
of Knowledge for those that shall "come after us: By Means of the Press we can sit at
Home and "acquaint ourselves with what is done in all the distant Parts of "the
World, and find what our Fathers did long ago, in the first "Ages of Mankind: By this
Means a Briton holds "Correspondence with his Friend in America or Japan,
and "manages all his Business: 'Tis this, which brings all the past Ages
"converse together, and grow into Acquaintance." Wherefore, a well
regulated Printing-Office has always been considered as a publick Benefit, insomuch that
no Place of Note in the English Dominions is at this Day destitute of the
Advantages arising therefrom.
might be here laid in enumerating the peculiar Advantages that must in a more particular
Manner result from the Establishment of a Printing-Office in Quebeck, whether we
consider it as the most effectual Means of bringing about a thorough Knowledge of the English
and French Language to those of the two Nations now happily united in one in
this Part of the World; by which Means they will be enabled to converse with, and
communicate their Sentiments to each other as Brethren, and carry on their different
Transactions in Life with Ease and Satisfaction: Or, as the Means only of bringing to
their Knowledge the Transactions of the different and most distant Nations of the World,
of which they must otherwise remain almost entirely ignorant:----But as these important
Advantages, will appear at first View to every one capable of the least Reflection, it
will be needless in us here to enlarge.
Our Design is, in Case we are fortunate
enough to succeed, early in the Spring to settle in this City, in the Capacity of
Printers, and forthwith to publish a Weekly News-Paper; which, as the present Condition of
the Country renders it in a great Measure necessary, we purpose to publish in French and
English: This Method will afford a Weekly Lesson for Improvement, to every
Inhabitant willing to attain to a thorough Knowledge in the Language of the Place,
different from that of his Mother Tongue, whether French or English.
And as in a Paper design'd for general Perusal, it will be necessary to add some
Things of general Entertainment, therefore, as we have Opportunity, shall present our
Readers with such Originals, both in Prose and in Verse, as may at once please the Fancy
and instruct the Judgment: In this Respect, our Paper will be considered as the Channel of
Amusement, as well as of real Improvement and Intelligence:-----But as our coming hither,
and setting up a complete Printing-Office, will be attended with a much greater Expence
than our present Circumstances will admit of, we offer the following Proposals to the
Inhabitants of this Place, their encouraging of which will determine our settling among
FIRST, That as soon
as Three Hundred Subscriptions for the News-Paper above proposed, can be procur'd, we will
engage to set up a genteel Printing-Office, in some convenient Part of Quebeck;
consisting of a good Assortment of new Types, a good Press, and all other Materials
necessary for carrying on said Business in the most extensive Manner, and with Expedition.
SECONDLY, That the
Price to Subscribers shall be per Year, current Money of Canada.
THIRDLY, Such of the
Subscribers as may chuse, are at full Liberty to withdraw their Subscriptions at the end
of the first Year, and at the End of ever succeeding Half Year, as they may chuse.
FOURTHLY, No Money
will be required, till such Time as the Paper is actually set on Foot, when it is
expected, that each Subscriber will advance one Half of the first Year's Subscription
Money, the better to enable the Printers to prosecute the Work.
FIFTHLY, Our best
Endeavours shall be used to convey our Papers to such Subscribers as may reside in Montreal,
and even in the remotest Part of the Country, till such Time as there can be regular
Messengers procured for these Places.
Brown and Gilmore.
Implicitly rather than propagatively conservative in its political stance
(except, of course, during the American Revolution and the Napoleonic Wars),1 The
Quebec Gazette looked to official British culture for its values, its perspective on
current events, and, not infrequently, its literary materials. Both in content and
in format, its parallel columns in English and French reflect the division and the
"interface" that have continued to characterize society and culture in Lower
Canada/Canada East/Quebec long after The Quebec Gazette merged with The
Chronicle to become The Chronicle and Quebec Gazette on May 1, 1924.
Founded by William Brown and Thomas Gilmore, The Quebec Gazette became
the property of Brown alone in 1774 and subsequently passed first to John Nielson (1789),
then to Samuel Nielson (1822) and, finally, to John Middleton (1849), who superintended
its absorption into his Morning Chronicle between 1874 and 1892 (after which it
reappeared as a separate publication until 1924). Primarily because it was conceived
first and foremost as a news organ but also because none of its proprietors was himself a litterateur,
The Quebec Gazette was not as hospitable to poetry as Thomas Cary's Quebec
Mercury. Nevertheless, Brown, Gilmore, and their successors did "fe[el] it
necessary to add some Things of general Entertainment" to their newspaper and did
"present [their] readers with such Originals, both in Prose and Verse, as may at once
please the Fancy and instruct the Judgement." As amply demonstrated by the
poems that appeared in its pages, what this meant in practice was that The Quebec
Gazette published a combination of poems on frivolous and serious topics, the
formerand again in the words of the Prospectusfor the "Amusement" of
its readers and the latter for their "Improvement and Intelligence." The
poetry in The Quebec Gazette was thus intended to reflect and encourage the wit,
knowledge, and moral seriousness that were deemed during the Georgian period to be
defining characteristics of a "well-regulated" person in a
It is an indication of the cultural function of The Quebec Gazette in
the decades following the Conquest that in May 1804 John Strachan, who was then a
grammar-school teacher in Cornwall, Upper Canada (Ontario), chose its pages to report a
recent "conversation. . .upon [a] projected monument for GENERAL WOLFE":
[t]he company agreed that it was impossible to say
more than he deserves in his Epitaph; but they wish'd it not to reflect on the nation he
opposed. For it was observed, that this might not only hurt feelings, which it were
better to conciliate, but detract from its elegance, since comparative praise is
frequently disputable, and seldom sufficiently appropriate.
(May 26, 1804).
For a further discussion of the political
orientation of The Quebec Gazette during the pre-Confederation period, including
its positive response to the French Revolution prior to the Reign of Terror, see Elzéar
Gérin's La Presse Canadienne: La Gazette de Québec (Québec: J.-N. Duquet,