19th Century Stratford, Ontario Newspapers
Early Settlers
County Seat
Royal Visit
Banks, Insurance

On September 11, 1849, was issued the first newspaper printed in Perth County. This was known as the Perth County News, and published by Mr. Thomas Rowland. It may be proper to state here that Mr. Robert McLagan, who assisted on that great occasion, is still a resident of Stratford, and the oldest printer, perhaps, in Western Ontario. For this notice of the press in Stratford I am greatly indebted to a pamphlet published by Mr. McLagan a short time ago in relation to this important subject. Mr. Rowland's paper seems to have survived only for a short time, and was supplanted by the Examiner, which also appears to have been somewhat ephemeral. The Beacon, now the oldest paper in Perth County, was first published on December 29th, 1854, by Mr. Peter Eby, a citizen of Berlin. Mr. William Mowat was editor and manager. It was a four-page sheet, with six columns to each page, a total of 480 inches of space, and sold at $2 per annum in advance, and $2.50 if not so paid. "Farm produce taken at market prices, cordwood, and turnips, as may be agreed upon." In the autumn of 1863 Mr. Mowat sold the paper to Mr. W. Buckingham, who had hitherto published the Norfolk Reformer, and who was at that time private secretary to the Postmaster-General at the then seat of government in Quebec. On his appointment as private secretary to Hon. Alexander MacKenzie, Prime Minister of Canada, in 1873, Mr. Buckingham disposed of the business to his partner, Mr. Alexander Matheson. Today this paper contains sixteen six-column pages, with 1,920 inches of space, and is sold at $1 per annum. In 1887 a daily edition was issued by Mr. Matheson, which was subsequently abandoned. Mr. W. M. O'Beirne, for several years associated with the Globe and other Ontario Journals, the Beacon's proprietor since 1891, again issued a daily edition, which has been successful, having a large circulation. This "History of Perth" is published in the Beacon office, under the mechanical superintendence of Mr. J . T. Perry. The Beacon, since its inception, has been an unflinching advocate of Reform principles, doing good service for its party.

In 1852 the Stratford Examiner was published by Messrs. T. M. Da1y and Edwin Dent, and in 1855 passed over to Mr. S. L. Robarts, who published it until the late '60's. The Perth County News was first published in 1863 by Vivian & Maddocks, and was shortly afterwards issued as the Herald in June of that year. John M. Robb bought it out in 1867, and published it until 1872, when Alex. Williamson and H. T. Butler published it until 1874, at which time it was purchased by Mr. James Robb. In June, 1874, Mr. H. T. Butler first published the Stratford Times, and continued it to 1890. In about two years after this it was merged into the Herald. The Times was a paper of considerable influence for a number of years. Mr. Butler then established the Sun, but it gave away in the face of the two dailies before a year rolled over.

In 1886 the Herald was purchased by Dingman Bros., who moved it in 1900 to its present elegant quarters on Market square. This paper has also been successful, being now a sixteen-page sheet, and sold to subscribers at $1 per annum. In 1887 a daily was issued, which has now a large circulation. Both of the Stratford daily papers have a great advertising patronage, and certainly have done much in promoting the business interests of the city.

In 1863 was established a weekly German paper, named the Colonist. This sheet was founded by Jacob Teuscher. In 1872 it became the property of Messrs. Schmidt & Scherer, and five years later Mr. Schmidt became sole proprietor. The Colonist has a large patronage amongst the Germans, a number of whom are settled near Stratford. Since the period when the News was launched, many ventures have been made, but not with great success. An Orange Gazette was published for some time, but abandoned. These, with a paper called the Advertiser, constitute the journalistic ventures in Stratford.

From History of Perth County 1825-1902 by William Johnston, published in 1903