160 Years of the Canada Gazette — page 4

A fledgling nation finds its voice

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Canada's official newspaper has its roots in the beginnings of a nation. The creation of the Canada Gazette, its history and its future are intertwined in the growing pains of an entire country. Through times of war and peace, of prosperity and depression, through innovations that turned the industrial world upside down and shrunk the global world to a village, the Canada Gazette has remained one constant. Collectively, its pages mirror aspects of an evolving nation - its words define who we are as Canadians.

This book commemorates the 160th anniversary of the Canada Gazette. The first part tells a story of a publication that is as much a part of the growth of a nation as it is an historical account of Canada's official newspaper. It is a story that supports the belief that every person has the right to be a part of the laws and regulations that affect Canada's citizens. The second part contains the historical facts that detail the evolution of the Canada Gazette. Originally written and published in 1995 in the electronic journal Government Information in Canada by Martha Foote, a law librarian, it was substantially revised for this book.


The Canada Gazette makes its debut
in the new Province of Canada

In the 19th century, printing presses were often established to satisfy the needs of Government. After all, administrators had only limited means to communicate with citizens - the town crier and public readings were about the only other ways of announcing proclamations.

Early printing presses, such as the wooden screw-press imported from England, advanced the means of Government to communicate. Operating the press was a laborious process. Printers would first convert written material into lines of types. Each line was assembled in a composing stick, letter by letter. Lines were made equal in length by inserting lead metal blanks called, appropriately enough, leads. Once a page was completed, it was firmly locked into a metal frame and dabbed with ink. This process produced about 60 printed sheets per hour.

Print shop

When the Canada Gazette made its debut on Saturday, October 2, 1841, official gazettes were already being circulated as a means of disseminating government notices. The Canada Gazette soon became the official voice of the new Government of the Province of Canada. In achieving supremacy, it superseded gazettes issued by the former provinces of Upper Canada (now Ontario) and Lower Canada (now Quebec).


Appointing Queen's Printer among
first official business

At only three pages long, the first Canada Gazette contained a proclamation, two new acts, an order in council, and two government appointments. One of these appointments was that of Stewart Derbishire and George-Paschal Desbarats as joint Queen's Printers and Law Printers in and for the Province of Canada. Derbishire was an Englishman who, in his prior careers, was a soldier, lawyer and journalist. Desbarats was a French Canadian with a solid grounding in his family's printing trade.

The title of Queen's Printer dates back almost to Confederation, when the new Dominion's Parliament decided that it was too costly to appoint private printers as official printers to the Crown. An act in 1869 required that a government official, known as the Queen's Printer, be appointed to supervise the printing of its official newspaper, the Canada Gazette, and any printing required by government departments.

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