Memorable Manitobans: Patrick Gammie Laurie (1833-1903)
He was born in Pitsligo, Aberdeenshire, Scotland, on 7 April 1833, the son of the Reverend William Laurie and Mary Ann Gammie. He married Mary Eliza Carney in 1856. They had six children.
He came to Canada in 1842 and was educated at Cobourg, Canada West. He was the publisher of the Owen Sound Times and also of the Essex Record before coming west in 1869. He took charge of the Nor’Wester which had been acquired by Dr. J. C. Schultz. At the time of the Red River Rebellion (1869-70) he took refuge at Lower Fort Garry with officials of the Canadian government, where he printed the proclamations for the authorities as well as the replies to the counter-proclamations of the rebel leaders. Subsequently he fled to Ontario when a reward of £200 was offered for his capture. He was back in 1870 and purchased at auction the remains of the plant of the Nor’Wester and began publication of the Manitoba Newsletter.
In 1871, the Newsletter was sold to a joint stock company which began publication of the Manitoba Liberal, Laurie being in charge of the mechanical operation. Shortly after this he became foreman at the Manitoban. Later, and until he left for Battleford, he was with the Manitoba Free Press, in charge of the book and job printing department. In 1878 he established the Saskatchewan Herald in Battleford, the first newspaper west of Winnipeg, and continued as editor and publisher until his death.
He published some early maps of the North-West Territories and Manitoba.
Laurie was an Anglo-Canadian imperialist who saw no place in the West for Native people and French Canadians. He opposed block settlement because it prevented the fusion of newcomers of several backgrounds into a “homogeneous whole.” The North-West Rebellion of 1885 drove him up the wall, and he was an ardent critic of Riel and his supporters. In his later years he opposed the New Immigration. He died in Battleford on 11 May 1903.
His memoir of 1869-70 in Red River, written in 1902, is at the Archives of Manitoba.
Pioneers and Early Citizens of Manitoba, Winnipeg: Manitoba Library Association, 1971.
Page revised: 17 October 2008
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