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Royal Gazette

A Brief History

Over 250 years ago, in September of 1751, Bartholomew Green Jr., the grandson of the man who printed the first American newspaper, came to Halifax from Boston and set up a print shop on Grafton Street.  Unfortunately for Green, he took ill and died four months later at the age of 52.  Upon news of his death, John Bushnell, Green's former partner, sailed for Halifax and immediately assumed management of the new enterprise.  Bushnell arrived about the end of January, and on Monday, March 23rd, 1752, he published the very first issue of the Halifax Gazette, recognized as Canada's first newspaper. 

So far as it is known, the Halifax paper is the 3rd oldest on the North American continent.  Authoritative sources agree that the earliest newspaper in the American colonies was "Publick Occurences" published on September 25, 1690.  The 2nd newspaper was the "News-Letter" of Boston, published from 1704 to 1776 (founded by Green's father).  The 2nd Canadian newspaper did not make an appearance until more than 10 years after the Halifax Gazette, when the "Quebec Gazette" was published in June of 1764.

The Halifax Gazette began as a small newspaper, merely a half sheet containing European news, some local items and advertising-- but official notices were the mainstay of the business.  The original newspaper had a wood-cut on the right side of the title representing a fowler pursuing game, and on the left was shown a ship under full sail. 

The Halifax Gazette still continues in existence today.  The paper was published under various names until 1867 when it became the Nova Scotia Royal Gazette, the official government publication for proclamations and legal notices.  In 1977 Part II of the Royal Gazette was created to publish regulations made pursuant to the Province's Statutes, and Part II is still published by the Queen's Printer.  Since May of 1996, the two Parts of the Royal Gazette have been reunited in the Registry of Regulations, Department of Justice.

In 2002, the Gazette celebrated 250 years of publication.  Part II of the Gazette celebrated 25 years of publication that same year.

A 1984 copy of the Royal Gazette Part I

Not bad for a newspaper that began publication printed on a single half-sheet of paper!

On June 20, 2002, the National Library of Canada announced the acquisition of the first issue of the Halifax Gazette from the Massachusetts Historical Society in Boston.

Further interesting reading:

  • Nova Scotia Archives: Halifax Gazette - Canada's First Newspaper
  • The National Library of Canada's Engine of Immortality - Canadian Newspapers from 1752 to today, including a scanned image of the original issue of the Halifax Gazette, and featuring articles like:
  •  "The Founding of Halifax and the Halifax Gazette (1749-1753)", by Ronald Rompkey, which puts the beginnings of news publication in Halifax into an historical context
    "Hebert Jefferie - First Canadian Printer?", by Douglas G. Lochhead which poses the question of what ever happened to Jefferie, a "printer" who arrived in Halifax in 1749 with Cornwallis
    "The First Newspaper Published in Canada", by Beausejour, which disputes the Halifax Gazette as the first Canadian newspaper, because Nova Scotia was not yet a Canadian province
  • "Canadian Newspapers Celebrate 250 Years", by Stephen Kimber (National Library of Canada Bulletin 2002, Vol 34, no. 2), in which Kimber exposes the newspapers humble, and unlikely, beginnings.
  • "Canada's Oldest Newspaper Finds Its New Home at the National Library of Canada", a National Library of Canada News Release - June 20, 2002, announcing the acquisition of the first issue of the Halifax Gazette from the Massachusetts Historical Society in Boston.
  • "History of Printing in Canada", from the Dalhousie News, April 2002. (Link deactivated - page no longer found online.)
  • "Foreign Intelligence", a list of related links compiled by the National Library including links to an article entitled "The First Nova Scotia Newspapers" (from the Yarmouth Herald, August 30, 1883), an article entitled "The Oldest Newspaper in North America" from the Morning Chronicle, Halifax, January 1, 1914) and excerpts from "History of Printing in America" by Isaiah Thomas (2nd Edition, 1874) (see link entitled "The Oldest Newspaper in Canada").
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