Manitoba History: How Winnipeg Invented the Media
It is indeed bold to declare Winnipeg—an isolated Prairie city—as the inventor of the media, but there is considerable evidence that people and events in and from Winnipeg have influenced the media in Canada and internationally far beyond what anyone might have anticipated.
There are important Winnipeg links to all of the following:
But why Winnipeg? A century ago, Winnipeg was one of the fastest-growing cities in North America. It was a magnet for immigrants, for those seeking to build a better life, or make their fortune, or both, in a new country. And immigration itself can be seen as a form of entrepreneurship or risk-taking.
In 1895, Mark Twain visited Winnipeg on a speaking tour. After his visit, his tour promoter, James Pond, wrote this about the city:
In 1907, another famous writer, Rudyard Kipling, visited Winnipeg.  And he wrote two sentences that may describe Winnipeg—then and now—better than any other:
Setting the Stage
The first newspaper published in Manitoba—The Nor’Wester—appeared on 28 December 1859; it lasted almost 10 years. Many other publications followed, but none more important than the Manitoba Free Press, started by William F. Luxton and John A. Kenny as a weekly in 1872. It became a daily newspaper in 1874. 
As a result of a process that began in late 1889, and culminated on 13 January 1890, the Free Press absorbed its remaining competitor, the Sun, and there was a brief period in early 1890 when the Free Press was Winnipeg’s only daily newspaper. But Robert Lorne Richardson, a former city editor of the Sun, launched The Winnipeg Tribune on 28 January 1890. 
In order to pay for its ambitions, the Free Press had accepted financial support in 1888 and 1889 from two prominent Canadians, Sir Donald Smith and William Cornelius Van Horne—in effect, from the Canadian Pacific Railway. Luxton was not prepared to bend to the editorial dictates of Smith and Van Horne, but he was also not able to raise the funds to buy out their interests in the paper. He was forced out in 1893. 
After Luxton left the Free Press, he joined forces with a number of Manitoba Conservatives to start a new daily newspaper in 1894, called the Nor’Wester, which became the Winnipeg Telegram in 1898, although Luxton left the paper in that same year.
In the 1896 federal election, the Tribune’s Richardson was elected to the House of Commons as a Liberal representing Lisgar. Later in 1896, in a by-election, Clifford Sifton was elected as a Liberal to represent Brandon in the House of Commons, and was appointed Minister of the Interior in the Laurier Government.
Sifton and Richardson quickly became bitter enemies and rivals in a struggle for control of the Liberal party in Manitoba and the North-West. By the middle of 1897, Sifton had decided that Richardson’s Tribune could not be relied upon for the kind of political support he felt was necessary, so he entered into negotiations that led to his purchase of the Free Press from Smith and Van Horne. 
By 1898, Sifton was beginning to assert his control over the Free Press, and Richardson was using the Tribune to attack Sifton, but the Winnipeg Telegram was drifting. After Luxton left the Telegram, there was a period of over two years when prominent Winnipeg Conservatives sought out potential buyers for the paper.
Finally, early in 1901, W. Sanford Evans was persuaded to move to Winnipeg to invest in—and run—the Telegram. Evans, then 31, had received part of his education in Hamilton, where he had been a co-founder of the first Canadian Club. He had worked as a journalist for The Mail and Empire in Toronto, and was active in Conservative politics. Evans came to Winnipeg with assurances from prominent Conservatives about the financing of the Telegram, and also with a promise of support for a Conservative nomination for a seat in the House of Commons. 
But Evans was not the only person or company with whom local Conservatives had negotiated to take over the Telegram. Discussions had also taken place with the Southams, then owners of two newspapers, the Hamilton Spectator and the Ottawa Citizen. In fact, a story on Page 1 of The Globe, on 27 August 1900, had stated:
The Globe report was not correct. But why choose Evans instead of established newspaper proprietors? The answer is contained in a letter from Sanford Evans to Wilson M. Southam (in Ottawa). Evans was acquainted with the Southam family, and wanted to assure them that he had not been working against their interests. He told Southam:
So it appears that a perceived link between the Southams and the CPR prevented their entry into the Winnipeg market in 1900 or 1901. One of the consequences was to bring to Winnipeg a person who would become one of the city’s most prominent business and political leaders. The promised Conservative nomination was delivered in 1904, but Evans was defeated in the general election. In November 1905, Evans announced that he was severing his association with the Telegram, and he turned his attention to other business and political ventures in Winnipeg. He served as Winnipeg’s mayor for three years (1909 to 1911) and later served as a Conservative member of the Manitoba Legislature from 1922 to 1936. 
The Telegram, still with the financial backing of prominent Conservatives, then hired a new President and Editor, Mark Edgar Nichols. Nichols, 32, a tall and commanding figure, had been Parliamentary correspondent for the Toronto Telegram, and was an editorial writer for The Toronto World immediately prior to coming to Winnipeg. 
At the Free Press, Sifton had attracted two remarkable professionals to run his newspaper—E. H. Macklin as business manager and John W. Dafoe as editor. Edward Hamilton Macklin was born in Hamilton in 1863 and started newspaper work in the business office of the Toronto Globe at the age of 16, in 1879. On 25 March 1880, he was addressing envelopes in a room next to the office of George Brown, The Globe’s founder and editor (and a Father of Confederation), when a discharged former employee shot Brown. (Brown died of his wound on 9 May 1880.) By 1890, Macklin was cashier of The Globe, and in 1900, he was recruited by Clifford Sifton to become business manager of the Free Press. Macklin cut a dashing figure, with moustache and goatee, black felt hat, cigar and cane. 
John Wesley Dafoe was born in the Ottawa Valley in 1866. He first came to Winnipeg in 1886, to work for Luxton as a reporter at the Free Press, until he returned to Montreal in 1892.  In 1901, Clifford Sifton offered Dafoe the editorship of the Manitoba Free Press. Both were Liberals; both saw the development of a Western Canada with a strong voice in national affairs. Dafoe accepted Sifton’s offer and returned to Winnipeg as editor of the Free Press, a position he would hold until his death in 1944. Described by one writer as a “big, strong, shaggy man,” Dafoe neither smoked nor drank. 
Although very different in personality, Dafoe and Macklin had skills that complemented each other. By 1907, under their combined direction, the Free Press was already well on its way to becoming the dominant daily newspaper in Western Canada and one of the most important in Canada, a position it would hold until the middle of the century.
From 1859, when the first Nor’Wester was published, to just after the turn of the twentieth century, Winnipeg was clearly inventing its own media, for and about the city and the region.
But, starting in 1897, Winnipeg and Manitoba have also been linked to a remarkable number of people and developments that have helped shape the course of the media far beyond the borders of the city, the province or the country.
The First Canadian Movie
The making of Canada’s very first moving picture, in 1897-1898, is a story, in fact, worthy of Hollywood.  And the more one researches the story, the more one finds a tangled web of arguments, claims and counter-claims, about who did the filming, who paid for it, and who had the right to use it.
James Freer emigrated from Bristol, England, in 1888, to farm near Brandon. According to a number of sources, starting in 1897, Freer produced the first Canadian movie, a documentary that came to be titled “Ten Years in Manitoba,” and which put together a collection of scenes about the province. In 1898 and 1899, with financial help from the CPR, Freer toured Britain and used the film as a way of encouraging people to come to Manitoba. 
There is no question that Freer assembled and promoted this first Canadian movie. But who did the actual filming? It appears that Freer may have purchased the filmed scenes of Winnipeg and rural Manitoba from someone else—a Winnipeg bartender named R. A. “Dick” Hardie.
Freer’s interest in using an earlier form of slide projection dates back to at least 1893, when he wrote to the federal government asking that the duty be waived on the importation of the necessary equipment. 
But the actual filming of the first moving pictures in Manitoba may be linked to three other people—the above-mentioned Hardie, an entertainer/promoter named Cosgrove, and E. H. Amet, an American involved with a number of early movie industry inventions. The relationships between and among those three, and with Freer, are not completely clear.
The filming of Manitoba scenes (including one of Manitoba Premier Greenway working on his own farm) appears to go back to mid-1897. For example, on 3 September 1897, the Free Press reported:
On 9 December 1897, the Free Press reported:
But a report in the Free Press the very next day (10 December 1897) seems to indicate that Hardie and Cosgrove also had wider exhibition plans for their Manitoba scenes:
Early in 1898, the Free Press reported that Hardie was exhibiting his scenes at the Grand Theatre in Winnipeg, and that Cosgrove was exhibiting similar scenes in smaller Manitoba communities. And then, on 15 January 1898, a letter from Hardie was published in the Free Press, challenging Cosgrove’s claim to have originated the Kinetoscope harvesting scenes:
Cosgrove responded with a long letter to the Free Press that was published on 18 January 1898, in which he did, indeed, contradict Hardie’s version of events. The letter from Cosgrove starts with these words:
Cosgrove’s letter also dealt with the trip that he and Hardie had taken to Montreal and Ottawa:
It is not clear how, or if, the dispute between Hardie and Cosgrove was ever resolved. However, we do know that by March 1898, Freer was in London, exhibiting his film, which included scenes that fit the description of scenes used by Hardie.
How that happened may never be known with absolute certainty. But Freer farmed near Brandon, and was active in making slide presentations in communities in the area. He was likely acquainted with the Member of Parliament for Brandon, Clifford Sifton, who by 1897 was one of the most powerful members of the Laurier Cabinet. Thus, it is possible that Sifton was convinced to endorse Freer’s scheme for exhibiting Manitoba scenes.
After touring Britain in 1898 and 1899, Freer continued his interest in filming Manitoba scenes. In 1901, he appeared in Winnipeg before the “royal reception executive committee,” and asked for a grant of $25 to help him purchase more film; his request was referred to a civic committee. 
So, in the space of four years, we have the first Canadian movie, the first arguments over financing and copyright, and the first example of a Canadian film-maker asking for a government grant, all in Manitoba.
The Creation of Canadian Press
The year 1907 marked a turning point in the history of the media in Canada, because of a dispute that started in Winnipeg.
In 1907, the Canadian Pacific Railway Telegraph Company had a monopoly in the distribution of the Associated Press wire service in Canada. In July 1907, the railway telegraph company sent a note from its office at McDermot and Main to its three Winnipeg daily newspaper clients, the Free Press, Tribune and Telegram.  The note told them they would no longer receive the full New York AP feed every day from Eastern Canada. Instead, the telegraph company would decide what to send the papers from St. Paul, Minnesota. And the telegraph company also told the three newspapers that, on 1 August, their charges for receiving the AP service would increase substantially. 
We know that these newspapers had personal and political rivalries that went far beyond normal commercial competition. And we also know that the Free Press was the strongest paper. In theory, it could have paid the increased amount, and hoped that the extra expense would have weakened its competitors.
But something very different happened. Shortly after receiving the note from the CPR telegraph company, and despite their rivalries, four people met: R. L. Richardson of the Tribune, M. E. Nichols of the Telegram, and E. H. Macklin and J. W. Dafoe of the Free Press. They decided that the telegraph company had overstepped the boundaries between content and carriage, and they set to work to create an alternative. 
The first name they had for that alternative was Western Associated Press, but as the alternative spread to other newspapers across Canada, it adopted the name we know it by today—Canadian Press. In a paper presented to the Manitoba Historical Society in 1930, Dafoe talked of his involvement in the events that led to the formation of Canadian Press:
Dafoe then went on to reveal his role in gaining access to news services from the United States:
“Ralph Connor” Meets the President
A hundred years ago, Winnipeg was home to one of the most famous living Canadians—the novelist Ralph Connor. But “Ralph Connor” was the pen name of one of Winnipeg’s prominent citizens, the Rev. Charles William Gordon of St. Stephen’s Presbyterian Church. His fame spread far beyond the borders of Canada, and his fans included Theodore Roosevelt and Woodrow Wilson. In fact, Gordon attended Wilson’s inauguration in 1913.
After the First World War broke out, Gordon enlisted, at the age of 54, as a chaplain to the Canadian forces. But the British government felt that Gordon’s fame could be better used in attempting to encourage the United States to enter the war. So Gordon came back to Winnipeg at Christmas 1916, and then, in early 1917, he set off on a speaking tour of the United States. 
On Sunday, 18 February 1917, Gordon spoke to a large audience at the First Congregational Church in Washington, DC.  The next day, he sent a note to the White House. On Tuesday, 20 February 1917, at 4:30 PM, Rev. Charles W. Gordon of Winnipeg was ushered in to meet the President of the United States, and he proceeded to give President Wilson a tongue-lashing over the USA’s continued neutrality. 
Newspaperwomen and the Right to Vote
In the years leading up to 1916, a different kind of battle had been fought in Manitoba—the political battle to allow women to vote. In her book, Women Who Made the News, Marjory Lang talks about the famous “Mock Parliament” held in Winnipeg in January 1914, and notes:
Two years later, in January 1916, Manitoba became the first province in Canada to extend to women the right to vote in provincial elections.
Student Paper Takes the Lead in 1920
Let’s move forward now, to 1920, when we find that Manitoba had over 100 newspapers of all types, including dailies, weeklies, and many ethnic newspapers serving immigrant communities.
In January 1920, the three daily newspapers in Winnipeg were unable to publish for six days because of a shortage of newsprint. The student newspaper at the University of Manitoba, The Manitoban, had sufficient newsprint, and published as a daily for four of those days. 
Since The Manitoban did not have access to news services, it monitored radio broadcasts from the U.S. and used them as a source for non-local news. The editor of The Manitoban was a young man named Graham Spry, whose interest in radio would later have a profound influence on the development of this new medium in Canada.
Seditious Libel and Freedom of the Press
A number of trials of the leaders of the 1919 general strike were going on in Winnipeg in early 1920, and one of them had important implications for the freedom of the press in Canada. Two of the strike leaders had been charged with seditious libel. The first of those libel trials to proceed was against Fred Dixon, a member of the Manitoba Legislature, and it started on 20 January 1920. Dixon chose to defend himself, to defend the proposition that a citizen had the right to criticize the government. The jury’s verdict was delivered on 16 February 1920: not guilty. Dixon left the courtroom, walked across Broadway and resumed his seat in the Manitoba Legislature. 
As a result of the Dixon verdict, the Crown decided not to proceed with the seditious libel case against the other person that had been charged, J. S. Woodsworth. Woodsworth was subsequently elected to Parliament, became the first leader of the CCF, and the rest of that story is, as they say, truly history.
In 1835, in Nova Scotia, when he won acquittal against charges of criminal libel, Joseph Howe famously stated, “Leave an unshackled press as a legacy to your children.”  There is a philosophical link that runs from Howe in Nova Scotia to Dixon in Winnipeg to our current Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
Southam and Sifton and Anti-Competitive Behaviour
The newsprint shortage and the seditious libel decision were just the beginning of a remarkable year. In June 1920, the Southam company purchased The Winnipeg Tribune. In October 1920, Southam also purchased the Winnipeg Telegram, and merged it into the Tribune, leaving Winnipeg with two daily newspapers. 
About a year later, Winnipeg was the focus of one of the more interesting chapters in the history of Canadian newspapers. It started with a letter from Wilson M. Southam to Sir Clifford Sifton. Southam had entered into a series of arrangements to minimize the competition with its rival in Ottawa, and now was seeking to do the same thing in Winnipeg. 
In News and the Southams, author Charles Bruce documented the fact that there were co-operative arrangements between Southam’s Ottawa Citizen and the competing Ottawa Journal, beginning as early as 1916. Bruce reported:
On 25 October 1921, Wilson M. Southam wrote to Sir Clifford Sifton to suggest that the two publishers form an arrangement in Winnipeg similar to the arrangement that Southam had made with its competitor in Ottawa:
Southam wrote Sifton again on 2 November 1921, and compared the situation in Winnipeg with the situation in Ottawa:
From reviewing the correspondence, it appears that some form of arrangement was developed between the two companies for their Winnipeg newspapers, and that it may have continued (at least to some degree) until the early 1960s. 
In 1924, there was a rumour that a Vancouver entrepreneur named Charles Campbell would attempt to undercut the two Winnipeg dailies by starting a one-cent daily newspaper in Winnipeg, at a time when the Winnipeg dailies were charging five cents a copy. (Campbell had done the same in Vancouver, and published the paper until bought out by one of the other Vancouver dailies. ) To deal with the potential competitor, representatives of Southam and Sifton met to plan a response, as reported by E. H. Macklin, the President and General Manager of the Free Press, to Sir Clifford Sifton, in a letter dated 21 August 1924:
Macklin then went on to outline the planned strategy:
We do not know if Campbell was informed of the Winnipeg plans to counter his possible entry into the market, but we do know that Campbell did not attempt to start a one-cent daily newspaper in Winnipeg.
Radio as “New Media”
In the early 1920s, newspapers were still important, but radio was “new media.” By 1922, the Free Press and Tribune had each established radio stations. By 1923, however, the experiments were not going well. At the same time, the Manitoba Telephone System (Manitoba Government Telephones) was interested in radio, in part because it saw radio as a potential competitor.
The two daily newspapers agreed to vacate the field, and the telephone system established a new radio station in Winnipeg, CKY. To make that happen, the governments of Manitoba and Canada negotiated a deal in 1923 under which the provincial telephone system would receive 50 per cent of the radio receiver licence fees collected in Manitoba, and would have what amounted to a veto over any other radio station licences in the province. 
The head of the Manitoba Telephone System at the time was John E. Lowry, and it can be argued that, by exercising the powers in the agreement between Canada and Manitoba, he was, in fact, Canada’s first regulator of broadcasting.
The degree to which the Province of Manitoba exercised real regulatory control over radio broadcasting in Manitoba in the late 1920s is illustrated by an exchange of correspondence from 1927, involving James Richardson & Sons, Limited, the provincial government, and the federal Department of Marine and Fisheries (which had responsibility for radio at that time).
In March 1927, James Richardson & Sons was seeking a licence to establish a radio station in Brandon. The company started by contacting the federal department, and that department’s reply is described in a 10 March 1927 letter from James Richardson & Sons to the federal Department of Marine and Fisheries:
Therefore, on 10 March 1927, the company applied for a radio licence to both the Manitoba Minister of Telephones and the federal Department of Marine and Fisheries. On 16 March 1927, Lowry replied to Paul Dow of James Richardson & Sons, as follows:
Lowry briefed Premier John Bracken on the subject in a letter dated 3 May 1927, in which he raised the possibility that the granting of a radio licence to James Richardson & Sons would allow that company to engage in propaganda against the wheat pool movement. 
On 16 August 1927, James A. Richardson himself talked to Premier John Bracken about his company’s desire for a radio station in Brandon, and then followed up with a two-page letter to Premier Bracken taking issue with Lowry’s refusal to grant a radio licence to James Richardson & Sons.  But Bracken did not overrule Lowry. Having exercised its veto, the Manitoba Telephone System then established radio station CKX in Brandon in 1928.
And here is an interesting historical footnote. In 1923, the federal government had indicated its willingness to make similar licence-fee sharing arrangements with stations in other provinces, but none of them took Ottawa up on the offer. One can only speculate on how broadcasting in Canada might have developed differently if other stations and/or other provincial governments would have acted on the federal government’s willingness to share some of its jurisdiction at that time.
While the business models for radio may have been uncertain, public interest in radio was high. As has been the case with the Internet, teenagers were teaching the technology to adults. One of the teenagers in Winnipeg in the 1920s was a young man named Spencer Caldwell. At 19, he was managing the radio department in the new Hudson’s Bay store in downtown Winnipeg. He decided to enter broadcasting as a career. Many years later, in 1961, he was awarded the licence for CTV—Canada’s first private television network. 
At the same Winnipeg high school Caldwell had attended (Kelvin) and two years younger than Caldwell, there was another young man interested in radio. In fact, he had built his own crystal set at the age of 12. His name was Marshall McLuhan. 
By the late 1920s, interest in radio had grown sufficiently that the federal government set up the Aird Royal Commission, which recommended a publicly owned system.  To support the Aird Commission proposals, Graham Spry, the former student editor of The Manitoban, helped establish the Canadian Radio League, which lobbied successfully for the creation of a national public broadcaster in Canada.
The Canadian Radio Broadcasting Commission (CRBC) was created in 1932 and was replaced by the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) in 1936. And Spry, of course, is commonly considered to be the father of the CBC.
“Wilhelmina Stitch”: From Winnipeg to Britain’s Daily Herald
In 1933, in England, the Daily Herald became the world’s best-selling newspaper, with a circulation of two million.  And, by mid-1934, one of the most popular columnists on that paper was Wilhelmina Stitch. Except that was not her real name. Her real name was Ruth Jacobs Cohen Collie. She had been married to E. Arakie Cohen, a prominent Winnipeg lawyer.
Arakie Cohen was born in Rangoon, Burma, educated in Calcutta, moved to London, and then came to Winnipeg in 1906. On a trip to England in 1908, he wooed and wed Ruth Jacobs, a granddaughter of one of the rabbis at the Great Synagogue of London. He brought his wife home to Winnipeg, where they lived on Polson Avenue. 
From 1913 to 1919, Ruth Cohen dabbled in journalism as a hobby, under different pen names. When Arakie Cohen died in 1919, she was forced to rely on her writing skills to support herself and her young son. She eventually moved back to England, remarried and achieved fame as “Wilhelmina Stitch.” 
“The Greatest Man in Canada”
In June 1942, Fortune magazine carried an article titled “The Greatest Man in Canada.”  The article was about one of Canada’s greatest journalists, John W. Dafoe, the editor of the Winnipeg Free Press from 1901 to his passing in 1944.
Over more than four decades, it was the editorial voice of John W. Dafoe, in the Free Press, that helped put Winnipeg on the map. While the Free Press tended to favour what might be called a right-wing 19th-century liberalism on economic matters, it was in foreign policy that Dafoe’s voice often spoke most forcefully.
In September 1938, Prime Minister Chamberlain of England signed the Munich Agreement with Hitler, effectively giving Nazi Germany control over Czechoslovakia. Many Western media were hesitant to be too critical, since the memory of the First World War was only 20 years old. In fact, the BBC deliberately downplayed the opposition to the Munich Agreement at the urging of the British Foreign Office. 
Dafoe did not hesitate to be critical. The headline on the lead editorial in the Free Press on 30 September 1938 read: “What’s the Cheering For?” Dafoe took the Munich Agreement apart and, as a result, there were many in the city who cancelled their subscriptions to the Free Press and accused Dafoe of being a warmonger.
An article by Robert J. Young (of the University of Winnipeg) in the Queen’s Quarterly, Winter 1999, describes the Free Press’s continuing opposition to fascism in the 1930s. Young concludes the article with these words about Dafoe and the Free Press: “The press, at least this one, in this respect, and at this time, had done its job, fulfilled its responsibilities.” 
By September 1939, events proved that Dafoe was correct. A measure of Dafoe’s reputation as an editor can be found in the Dafoe correspondence in the Archives at the University of Manitoba. There is a letter to Dafoe there, dated 31 May 1940. Part of the letter reads:
The letter is signed by Arthur Hays Sulzberger, the publisher of The New York Times. 
Dafoe died on 9 January 1944. In a reminiscence about Dafoe published in 1948, George V. Ferguson, who had been managing editor of the Free Press, seemed to recognize that, with Dafoe’s passing, an era had come to an end: “It was a newspaper’s Golden Age. It lasted a long time.” 
“Owned and Controlled by its Readers”
On Friday, 9 November 1945, The Winnipeg Tribune and the Winnipeg Free Press both failed to publish, the result of a labour dispute with the International Typographical Union. The next day, Saturday, 10 November, Free Press and Tribune readers received a strange-looking newspaper—a joint edition of the two newspapers. That joint publication would continue until the following February, and it had a number of consequences, some of which are being felt today.
The labour dispute and the joint publication provided impetus to those who wanted a different kind of newspaper in Winnipeg, and so, in 1946, the first steps were taken to create a daily newspaper to be published as a consumer cooperative. Shares were sold door-to-door, with the promise that the new paper, to be called the Citizen, would be owned and controlled by its readers.
The Winnipeg Citizen actually began publication on 1 March 1948 as a morning newspaper in competition with the two afternoon dailies. The paper lasted 13 months and 13 days, until 13 April 1949, when it went out of business, a victim of being undercapitalized. It was the first time anywhere in the world that anyone had tried to start a daily newspaper as a consumer co-operative.
The Citizen provided the first real journalism job for a young writer named Margaret Laurence, who was the paper’s labour reporter. When she left, the news editor of the Citizen offered the job to an acquaintance from Vancouver named Fred Wilmot, who wanted to break into daily journalism. And Fred Wilmot may have been the first black journalist ever hired by a Canadian daily newspaper.
After the Second World War
In the case of radio, the changes of the early 1930s had put an end to the provincial telephone system (MTS) veto power over competitors, and to the licence-fee sharing, but MTS continued to operate CKY and CKX as commercial affiliates of the CBC.
In early 1946, the CCF government of Saskatchewan, under Premier T. C. Douglas, entered into an agreement to purchase CHAB in Moose Jaw and applied to the Board of the CBC—which was then also the regulator—for permission to have the ownership of the licence transferred. Permission was denied, and the federal government changed the rules and announced a new policy in May 1946 that prohibited the granting of broadcast licences to provincial governments. 
In 1948, CKY in Winnipeg was sold to the CBC and became CBW. (The CKY call letters were reactivated the next year for a new private station in Winnipeg.) The government’s station in Brandon, CKX, was sold to an automobile dealer named John Boyd Craig. 
Another media innovation from Winnipeg also dates back to the 1940s—and it has lasted to this day. Richard Bonnycastle was managing a Winnipeg company, Advocate Printers, and was looking for additional uses for its printing presses. In 1949, he founded Harlequin Books to reprint mass market paperbacks published in the US and UK. The idea took off, and Harlequin became a major publisher of romance novels. Harlequin has been owned by Torstar since 1981, and has contributed significant profits to that company over the years. 
Also in the late 1940s, in Toronto, former Winnipegger Ed Parker was setting up what would become the Ryerson Journalism program. He recruited Ted Schrader to teach in the program. Schrader was a former Winnipeg Tribune columnist and past president of the Winnipeg Press Club. Under Schrader’s leadership, the Ryerson Journalism program became one of the pre-eminent programs of its type in North America. 
And There’s More …
The list could continue, of course, to include the introduction of television in the 1950s and its impact on other media, the formation of FP Publications, or the creation of CanWest in Winnipeg in the 1970s. And there were—and are—many talented writers, whose influence extended far beyond Winnipeg and Manitoba.
One is tempted to speculate on how much of McLuhan’s prediction was based on theory, and how much was based on the fact that he grew up in Winnipeg reading the Free Press, which dominated the classified advertising market in Winnipeg at that time.
So did Winnipeg really invent the media? Obviously, not by itself. But did it contribute to the development of the media above and beyond its size and location? Absolutely.
1. James Burton Pond, notebook relating to S. L. Clemens’ (Mark Twain) readings and visit to Winnipeg on 26-28 July 1895, New York Public Library. (Note: In the 19th century, “interprise” was sometimes used as an alternate spelling for “enterprise”.)
2. “Voice of a Poet Heard in Prose”, Manitoba Free Press (hereafter, MFP), 3 October 1907, page 1.
3. Rudyard Kipling, Letters to the Family, The Macmillan Company of Canada, 1910, pages 62-63.
4. The Manitoba Free Press changed its name to the Winnipeg Free Press in 1931.
6. David J. Hall, Clifford Sifton, Volume One: The Young Napoleon, 1861-1900, University of British Columbia Press, 1981, pages 209-229.
8. Wade A. Henry, “W. Sanford Evans and the Canadian Club of Winnipeg, 1904-1919,” Manitoba History, Spring 1994, pages 2-8.
9. “General News,” The Globe, 27 August 1900, page 1.
10. Letter from Sanford Evans to Wilson Southam, 8 January 1900 [1901?—see following note], William Sanford Evans Papers, Archives of Manitoba. (Note: The letter is typewritten, and is dated 8 January 1900. Based on the sequence of events, and other letters in the same archival file, it is likely that Evans, in typing the letter, inadvertently used the date of the year just ended, and that the correct date should be 8 January 1901.)
11. “William Sanford Evans, Statistician, Dies At 80,” Winnipeg Free Press, 27 June 1949, page 1.
12. “M. E. Nichols, Newspaper Man,” biographical sketch prepared by Canadian Press, 5 December 1957.
13. “Edward H. Macklin,” biography prepared by Associated Press, 1 July 1938; “Pioneer Newsman, E. H. Macklin Dies,” Winnipeg Free Press, 30 April 1946, page 1; “Macklin Of The Free Press,” Winnipeg Free Press, 30 April 1946, page 11.
14. In 1887, as a young reporter, Dafoe was elected to the first board of directors of the newly formed Winnipeg Press Club. In 1889, he was joined on the executive of the Press Club by Robert Lorne Richardson, then city editor of the Winnipeg Sun.
15. Jim Blanchard, “John W. Dafoe”, in J. Blanchard, ed., A Thousand Miles of Prairie, University of Manitoba Press, 2002, pages 219-220; F. W. Gibson, “The Rise and Decline of the Winnipeg Free Press,” The Kingston Whig-Standard Magazine, 25 August 1990 [accessed online].
16. I am indebted to film historian Gene Walz for his assistance in researching the early history of filming in Manitoba.
17. See, for example: Peter Morris, Embattled Shadows, A History of Canadian Cinema, 1895-1939, McGill-Queen’s University Press, 1978, page 30; Sam Kula, “Steam Movies: Railroads and Moving Images”, in Hugh A. Dempsey, ed., The CPR West: The Iron Road and the Making of a Nation, Douglas & McIntyre, 1984, page 247.
18. Based on a review of the 1893 correspondence with Freer in the federal Department of the Interior Papers, Government of Canada, Library and Archives of Canada [LAC].
19. “City And General,” MFP, 3 September 1897, page 6.
20. “Scenes For England,” MFP, 9 December 1897, page 4.
21. “City And General,” MFP, 10 December 1897, page 6.
22. “A Contradiction,” MFP, 15 January 1898, page 4.
23. “Mr. Cosgrove’s Reply,” MFP, 18 January 1898, page 3.
25. “The Committee on Royal Welcome,” Manitoba Free Press, 27 August 1901, page 4. The “royal reception executive committee” was made up of representatives of the Province, the City of Winnipeg, and other prominent citizens; its task involved planning for the visit to Winnipeg of the Duke and Duchess of Cornwall and York in September 1901.
26. As recently as 1905, all three dailies had been located in downtown Winnipeg on McDermot Avenue, which was known as Winnipeg’s “newspaper row.” In 1905, the Free Press outgrew its space on McDermot and moved about two blocks south to Portage Avenue (at the corner of Garry Street). However, in 1907, all three papers were still within a short walk of each other. (The Free Press moved to 300 Carlton Street in 1913.)
27. For a detailed history of the origins of Canadian Press, see: M. E. Nichols, (CP) The Story of The Canadian Press, Ryerson Press, 1948.
29. John W. Dafoe, “Early Winnipeg Newspapers: The Last 70 Years of Journalism at Fort Garry and Winnipeg,” in A Thousand Miles of Prairie, page 236.
31. See: Charles W. Gordon, Postscript to Adventure, The Autobiography of Ralph Connor, Farrar & Rinehart, 1938; and correspondence in the Charles William Gordon Papers, University of Manitoba Archives & Special Collections.
32. “‘Ralph Connor’ to Speak Here,” The Washington Post, 18 February 1917, page 6.
33. White House Appointment Book for Tuesday, 20 February 1917, Woodrow Wilson Papers, Library of Congress; Gordon, Postscript to Adventure, pages 294-302.
34. Marjory Lang, Women Who Made the News, McGill-Queen’s University Press, 1999, page 226.
35. “News Famine in Winnipeg: Improvised College Daily Only Paper in Manitoba City,” Editor & Publisher, 22 January 1920, page 9. The Manitoban published as a daily from 19-22 January 1920.
36. “Winnipeg Jury Acquits Dixon in Strike Case,” The Globe, 17 February 1920, page 11. See also: Jack Walker, The Great Canadian Sedition Trials: The Courts and the Winnipeg General Strike, 1919-1920 (published as a joint project by the Legal Research Institute of the University of Manitoba and the Canadian Legal History Project; edited by Duncan Fraser), 2004, Chapters 17-18.
37. William Annand, ed., The Speeches and Public Letters of the Hon. Joseph Howe, John P. Jewett & Company, 1858, page 67.
38. “Southams Purchase Winnipeg Tribune,” MFP, 23 June 1920, page 1; “Two Winnipeg Dailies Are Amalgamated,” The Lethbridge Daily Herald, 16 October 1920, p. 16.
39. Charles Bruce, News and the Southams, Macmillan, 1968, page 99.
43. In Canadian Newspapers: The Inside Story, writer Heather Robertson recalled getting her first newspaper job with the Free Press in 1963, and then switching newspapers to work for the Tribune: “We all knew the fix was in. The editors never admitted it but there was a gentleman’s agreement between the Winnipeg Tribune and the Free Press to preserve the status quo.” (In Walter Stewart, ed., Canadian Newspapers: The Inside Story, Hurtig Publishers, 1980, page 134.)
44. Bruce, News and the Southams, page 181.
47. For a history of early radio in Manitoba, see Mary Vipond, “CKY Winnipeg in the 1920s: Canada’s Only Experiment in Government Monopoly Broadcasting,” Manitoba History, Autumn 1986, pages 2-13; Canada, House of Commons, Debates (Hansard), 27 April 1923, pp. 2785-2787; Frank W. Peers, The Politics of Canadian Broadcasting, 1920-1951, University of Toronto Press, 1969, pages 27-28.
48. Letter from Paul Dow of James Richardson & Sons, Limited to Mr. Edwards of the federal Department of Marine and Fisheries, 10 March 1927, from “Canadian Broadcasting, research files,” part of the T. J. Allard Papers / LAC.
51. Letter from James A. Richardson to Honorable John Bracken, 16 August 1927, Minister of Public Utilities Office Files, Archives of Manitoba.
52. Rae Corelli, “Spencer Caldwell: The Man Who Challenges CBC’s TV Supremacy,” The Star Weekly Magazine, 13 January 1962, page 20.
53. W. Terrence Gordon, Marshall McLuhan: Escape into Understanding, (Stoddart Publishing), 1997, page 11.
54. When he was setting up the Royal Commission, Prime Minister W. L. Mackenzie King asked Free Press editor J. W. Dafoe to serve as one of its members, but Dafoe declined. (Letter from King to Dafoe, 1 December 1928; telegram from Dafoe to King, 4 December 1928; W. L. Mackenzie King Papers, LAC.)
55. Huw Richards, “The Daily Herald 1912-64,” History Today, December 1891, page 15.
56. “E. A. Cohen, Law Lecturer and Barrister Dies,” Winnipeg Tribune, 10 March 1919, page 5.
57. Marjory Lang, Women Who Made the News, page 115.
58. Bruce Hutchison, “The Greatest Man in Canada,” Fortune, June 1942, pages 106-111, 114, 116, 119, 120.
59. Stewart Purvis, “Why broadcast news was nice to Nazis in ’38,” The Times (London, England), 4 February 2005, page 54.
60. Robert J. Young, “Hitler’s Early Critics: Canadian Resistance at the Winnipeg Free Press,” Queen’s Quarterly, Winter 1999, pages 579-586.
61. Letter from Arthur Hays Sulzberger to John W. Dafoe, 31 May 1940; John W. Dafoe Papers, University of Manitoba Archives & Special Collections.
63. A. C. Allan, “J. W. Dafoe Honored On Anniversary,” Winnipeg Tribune, 18 October 1943, page 2.
64. G. V. Ferguson, John W. Dafoe, The Ryerson Press, 1948, page 127.
65. Peers, The Politics of Canadian Broadcasting, pages 375-377.
66. “CKY Station Sold For $200,000 To CBC, Hon. W. Morton Reveals,” Winnipeg Free Press, 24 January 1948, p. 1.
67. Morley Walker, “Selling the Sizzle,” Winnipeg Free Press, 20 June 2009, page C1.
68. www.ryerson.ca/journalism/about/index.html (accessed on 6 June 2012); Nicolaas van Rijn, “Ed Parker, 70, newspaperman and teacher”, Toronto Star, 31 March 1988, page A28.
69. Marshall McLuhan, Understanding Media: The Extensions of Man, McGraw-Hill, 1965, page 207 (originally published in 1964).
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