A synopsis of a paper by
SHERIFF J. R. GEMMILL
ON Saturday, July 3, 1841, the first
issue of the pioneer newspaper in Kent County appeared under the name of
"The Chatham Journal, and the publishers were Charles Dolsen and William
Fulford. The third issue contained the announcement of the withdrawal of
William Fulford from the firm and the appointment of John F. Delmage, an
Irish Barrister, as editor.
Sheriff Gemmill quotes the Editor of
the four page sheet as stating that he had in view "providing a means of
disseminating sound principles and providing a vehicle for influencing the
minds of the people in the proper direction." The Editor stated that the
recent union of the Provinces of Upper and Lower Canada calls for more
interest to be taken in public affairs; and a new era was opening up which
demanded the attention of the people of the country so that they might
take advantage of the possibilities which lay before them. The "Journal"
tendered its support to the Administration "whenever its measures met with
its approval," but the chief object of the paper was "to advance the
interests of the County of Kent" and secondly "to prosper ourselves." Its
columns were to be open to discussion of public affairs and there was to
be space for polite literature, a Poets corner, and ancient and modern
authors. Editorial attention was to be given to the proceedings of the
Imperial and Provincial Parliaments.
A sketch of the County of Kent given
in the first issue shows Kent to have twenty townships, ten of which now
form the County of Lambton, and Tilbury North has since been transferred
to Essex County. The population had increased from 4,000 in 1830 to 16,000
in 1841. Taxation of non-resident land-owners was advocated to force the
lands to be sold; at that time the tax on uncultivated land was 1/8 of a
penny per acre. Drainage was urged. The inhabitants of Chatham were stated
to be The paper contained some advertisements, and notice was given in the
paper of application being made to Parliament by Robert Stuart Woods
(later judge Woods) for a charter incorporating a Mutual Fire Insurance
Company for the district.
Later issues dealt with
Parliamentary proceedings, the projected monument to Tecumsch, and the
celebration of probably the first Emancipation Day, on August 1, 1841. The
personal comings and goings of prominent people and accounts of marriages
The "Chatham Planet," which was
first published in April, 1851, seems to have succeeded the "Journal," the
publishers were Miles Miller and Matthew Dolsen.
The second paper to appear was "The
Gleaner," started in July, 1845, by George Gould. This paper continued to
be published for several years. In March, 1848, it was succeeded by "The
Kent Advertiser," Mr. Thomas A. Ireland, publisher. In 1853 or 1854 the
office and plant of "The Gleaner" were destroyed by fire. After the fire,
Mr. John S. Vosburg, who published a paper at Kingston, moved his plant to
Chatham and continued the publication of the "Advertiser." Vosburg, on the
railway a few miles east of Chatham, was named for John S. Vosburg.
"The Western Argus" succeeded the
"Advertiser" in March, 1860, Wm. H. Thompson being the publisher. Later
the paper was purchased by Reverend I. B. Richardson, a Methodist
Episcopal Minister, and the name was changed to "The Western Union."
Cameron Bros. succeeded Mr. Richardson in 1863 and again changed the name
of the parer to "The Western Reformer." Cameron Bros. had the paper for
less than two years when it became the property of Honourable Walter
McCrea who sold it to Sheriff Gemmill and on January 12, 1865, the first
issue was made by Sheriff Gemmill under the name of "The Chatham Banner."
In 1894 the business was sold to James S. Brierly of St. Thomas and it
became a daily. In 1900 Mr. A. C. Woodward became the proprietor and
changed the name to "The Daily News."
In 1854 I. D. Shadd started the
"Provincial Freeman" for the colored people. This paper continued to be
published until 1863 or 1864.
"The Chatham Tribune" was started by
W. R. Dobbyn, B.A., Dublin, in about 1880, but was only published for a
"The Missionary Messenger," the
organ of the British Methodist Episcopal Church, was published in Chatham
for more than twenty years.