Port Hope, Canada – The Press

SERIOUS drawback with which the author of this book has had to contend in making researches into the past history of the ‘Town, has been the non-existence of files of the old newspapers published in Port Hope since 1830. With the exception of files of the Guide for the years 1856, 1857 and 1859 and occasional single copies of it and other papers, there exists no series of journals providing a contemporaneous history of the Town farther back than 1875, when Mr. George Wilson took over the Guide. Since then Mr. Wilson has kept complete and well-bound files of his paper, for which service he deserves the best thanks of the community. (It seems that some files of the Times are also in existence but the author has been unable to see them.)

While Port Hope is thus deficient in her journalistic history, the neighboring town of Cobourg may be complimented on having a complete series of the Cobourg Star from its inception in 1831. The author is indebted to this journal for many items which have thrown light on Port Hope’s history and, while it could not be expected to detail events occurring in Port Hope, it still treated this Town to a fair share of its attention.

The father of journalism in Port Hope was the late William Furby, Esq., who was born in Yorkshire, England, on September 5th, 1799. As a youth he acquired the printer’s and cabinet-maker’s trades and then crossed the Atlantic in 1819. He settled in Port Hope in 1826 and for many years engaged in the furniture business in a building to the west of the present Guide office. In 1831 Mr. Furby in partnership with a Mr. Woodhouse purchased the printing plant of Mr. John Vail, who had established the Port Hope Telegraph a few months previously, and continued the publication of this, the first newspaper in Port Hope. Mr. Vail’s press was one of the old wooden variety, which Mr. Furby soon after superseded with one of the first iron presses ever brought into Canada. His partner, Mr. Woodhouse, died in the summer of 1831 and Mr. Furby continued the publication of the Telegraph alone. Its name was altered to the Warder in June 1833 and to the Gazette in April 1836. The latter newspaper, which professed neutrality in politics became extinct in 1838 but was probably followed by another paper. In 1844 Mr. Furby began the publication of the Port Hope Gazette and Durham Advertiser and in 1851 altered its name to the Guide. It was about this period that Mr. Charles Lindsey, now an old and respected citizen of Toronto, rendered Mr. Furby’s paper famous by means of the brilliant articles, which secured him a distinguished place among Toronto journalists.

In 1856 George M. Furby, Esq., elder son of William Furby took over the Guide and entered into partnership with Mr. Crea. Under their management the Guide became a tri-weekly publication. Two years later Mr. Fuby sold out his interest to Mr. Crea and the latter continued to issue the paper until 1861 when it ceased publication for a few months. Until 7875, when Mr. George Wilson secured the paper, it passed through several hands, among them being those of Mr. C. Blackett Robinson, but during this period its publication could not be said to be continuous. Mr. Wilson bought the Guide from Mr. Moody and began to issue a daily paper in July 1878.

Until about 185o there was no opposition paper in Port Hope. The first such was the Watchman published by Mr. Steel. In reality this paper had its origin in Mr. Furby’s office, for during its first two or three years’ existence it was issued from Mr. Furby’s press. Then Mr. Steel set up a plant of his own and until 1855 the Watchman was regularly published. The following year a professedly Conservative paper, the British Standard, appeared under the editorship of Mr. James, while in November, 1857, it was succeeded by the Port Hope Atlas. This paper was edited by the distinguished writer, Mr. Charles Roger, known by his journalistic contemporaries as the ” Carlyle of the Canadian press ” and now better known as the author of a History of Canada. He came to Port Hope from Quebec and resided here but a few years.

The immediate progenitor of the Times, the British Canadian, was established in Port Hope by Mr. Hugh Cameron, of Montreal, in 7862. From Mr. Cameron this paper passed into the hands of Mr. Delamere and later into those of the late J. B. Trayes, whilst its name was changed to the one it now bears. Mr. Trayes was an able and successful publisher and editor and under him the Times saw its best days. He trained up several successful journalists among whom Mr. Atkinson, the talented editor of the Toronto Star, is prominent. Prior to the purchase of the Times by the present proprietor, Mr. Swaisland, it was managed for several years by Mr. W. F. Trayes and Mr. F. T. Harris.

Several other papers have been in existence in Port Hope from time to time. Among these might be noted, the Echo, a Church paper, edited and published by the late Dr. Shoat, the Messenger issued from 186o to 1863 by Mr. Hayter and the latter year removed to Millbrook, the Valuator, published in the sixties by the late Thomas Galbraith, and Mr. W. T. R. Preston’s News bought by Mr. Wilson in 1883 after a life of three years.