The Halifax Literary Walking Tour

Herald Building, 1650 Argyle St.

13. Halifax Newspapers

Beside you stands one of Halifax’s two contemporary newspaper offices, The Herald. The newspaper business in Halifax has always been a prominent part of the city’s landscape and economy. The first printing press in Canada was located on Grafton and Duke streets, where the large office building, Duke Towers, now stands. John Bushell printed the very first issue of the Halifax Gazette newspaper on Monday, March 23rd, 1752. News of the day included an announcement that the British Government had officially adopted the Gregorian calendar and that a madman had thrown a stone at the Pope’s head. Local news often consisted of government notices or advertisements of goods for sale.

It was always difficult for newspaper publishers to get a jump on the news of the day. The publishers would employ all kinds of schemes and gimmicks to scoop each other. None were more cutthroat than the competition between the Boston and New York newspapers. In 1849, six New York publishers decided to band together and establish the Associated Press, an agency to gather and distribute late and breaking international news. Halifax played a large and scarcely known role in this new line of business.

The first “foreign correspondent” for Associated Press was D.H. Craig. He set up an office in Halifax to gather incoming reports sent over on the Cunard ships. Craig began to use carrier pigeons on the final leg of the ship's Boston/New York journey, flying ahead to the AP offices. This worked well until a telegraph line from the United States reached into Canada’s Saint John, New Brunswick. For a short while, stories were rushed, via Pony Express from Halifax to Digby, where a ferry would transport the information to the telegraph office. Canisters containing the news of Europe were tossed overboard to awaiting messengers in rowboats, who would then transport the package to an awaiting pony express messenger. This saved nearly 35 hours off the time it would take for the news to sail from Halifax to the United States. Locals would often partake in a friendly wager on the arrival time of the ponies to Digby. By November, of the same year, the telegraph arrived in Halifax, and was operated by none other than Halifax’s own D.H. Craig.

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