The Halifax Literary Walking Tour

Vogue Building
Vogue Building, site of John Howe’s printing press

5. John Howe

The Howe family name has long been connected to the history of printing, both in Halifax and Boston. At the age of 20, John Howe apprenticed under the notable Boston printing family, the Drapers. The start of the American Revolution forced John, along with Margaret Draper, to escape to Halifax, dragging a wooden printing press in tow. Margaret Draper, publisher of the Massachusetts Gazette and the Boston Weekly News-Letter is now considered Canada’s first female printer.

Howe returned to the States in 1777 to publish the Rhode Island Newport Gazette, but political tensions forced him to flee permanently to Halifax three years later. On December 28th, 1780, the first issue of John’s Howe’s weekly newspaper, The Halifax Journal, rolled off the press in a little house on the corner of Barrington and Sackville. It ran successfully until 1870. He also produced The Nova Scotia Magazine and Comprehensive Review of Literature, Politics and News, an early effort to promote literature in Nova Scotia. In 1801, he became the King’s printer, publishing the Nova Scotia Royal Gazette, thus dominating most of the publishing business in Halifax. Later in life, retired from the world of printing, Howe would write for his son’s newspaper, The Novascotian.

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