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Canadian History
John Dougall

Of New York (late of Montreal). There are few good men now living who have done more good as a journalist and a temperance reformer than the subject of our sketch. John Dougall was born in the town of Paisley, Scotland, on the 8th of July, 1808, and was descended from an intelligent and thrifty ancestry. His grandfather, Duncan Dougall, who was only thirty six years older than his grandson, John Dougall, was the son of a well-to do weaver, and was engaged as a manufacturer of muslin. This gentleman, was an enthusiastic tory, even in the midst of the most rampant radicalism, and a man of imperious but affectionate nature, passionately fond of flowers, as taste for which descended to his grandchildren. His son, John Dougall, the father of our subject, was said to have been the greatest reader in Paisley, and a keen reformer. He gave his two sons, John (of Montreal), and James (of Windsor), a desultory education, including almost unlimited reading, and to encourage the lads in their love for learning, started a boys' literary club in his own house. Out of this club, which consisted of six members, sprang one poet and three journalists, all of considerable note. John Dougall, with the idea of going to South America, learned the Spanish language. But this field of enterprise was abandoned, and, at the age of eighteen, in 1826, he sailed for Canada, taking with him a large assortment of goods, with the view of establishing a branch house and a commission business. In the prosecution of his business he travelled a good deal, and became familiar with the then rising towns west of Montreal, and a winter spent in the backwoods of Lanark gave him an insight into the privations suffered by our pioneer settlers. Mr. Dougall was temperate from early youth, but not until 1828 did he take an active part in the temperance movement. Temperance (that is abstinence from strong drink, but the use of wine and beer in moderation) was first publicly advocated in Montreal, in 1828, by the Rev. Mr. Christmas, and out of this sprang the Montreal Temperance Society, which Mr. Dougall joined, and at once became on of its most active members. He then became editor of the Canada Temperance Advocate, the organ of the new departure, and this position he ably occupied, in addition to carrying on his other business, until 1846, when he started The Witness newspaper, with which his name has been for so many years identified. In 1835 it was discovered that the moderate use of wine and beer did not decrease the number of drunkards, the Montreal Temperance Society therefore abandoned the so-called temperance pledge, and adopted the more sensible one of total abstinence from all drinks that intoxicate. in 1838, the Rev. Dr. Kirk, of Boston, having visited Montreal, Mr. Dougall was so impressed with the preaching of this zealous man, the the piety of his boyhood was revived, and in 1840, shortly after his marriage, he joined the Congregational Church, and has remained a consistent member of the church ever since. The Witness started in 1846; continued for ten years to be published as a weekly sheet; and then it was issued as a semi-weekly, a tri-weekly, and a weekly. In 1860 a daily edition was added at the low price of one half-penny, and, though maintaining the strict religious and temperance character of its predecessors, it rapidly reached, through the interest excited by the American was, what was then an unprecedented and startling circulation. Such was the early success of this venture in point of acceptance with the people, that its founder never ceased to contrive how to secure the establishment of daily papers of similar character in other places. He visited several cities, spoke at an International Young Men's Christian Association Convention in behalf of cheap daily Christian newspapers; addressed, on the same subject several important religious gatherings and conferred with the editors of religious weeklies about beginning daily editions, but found no one prepared to try the experiment. Owing largely, perhaps, to the failure of the New York World to carry out the similar religious intentions of its founders, the proposal was not carried out till 1871, when Mr. Dougall was practically encouraged by a gentleman of means to commence the enterprise himself, and the New York Daily Witness was begun, and carried on for seven years, when it was obliged to succumb at last during the depression of 1878. after a large sum of money had been expended in it; but it left behind it the New York Weekly Witness, which now has a circulation approaching a hundred thousand copies weekly, and it is believed, exercises an influence in that country second to no other publication. Though Mr. Dougall is now in his seventy-seventh year, he is still hale and hearty, and apparently has a good many years of usefulness still before him. The Montreal Witness has been under the management of John Redpath Dougall since his father went to New York in 1871, and we are pleased to say that it is one of the most popular papers in the province of Quebec, and taking its daily and weekly circulation into account, is, perhaps, the most largely read newspaper in Canada. It is almost unnecessary to say that John Redpath Dougall has followed in the footsteps of his father, and is a staunch advocate of Temperance and Prohibition.

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