So many papers in such a small town.

Archival Moment

October 21, 1851

Globe and MailOn  October 21, 1851 St.  John’s residents welcomed the first edition of a new newspaper to the streets of the town, The Newfoundland Express.  

In the first editorial in the paper, the Editor, James Seaton wrote that he was confident that his new paper would be successful. He stated that because “the colony is being opened up by means of roads”  a new audience outside of the city was being created.  Seaton, who two years earlier had been the Editor of another St. John’s paper, The Courier also argued that with the establishment of a new inland postal system and that the legislature had passed a new law that newspapers could be sent free of charge, would benefit his new venture. The printer and publisher of the paper was John Thomas Burton.

Establishing a new newspaper in 1850 was a very bold step, the market was very crowded, and there were already nine established newspapers in the St. John’s. They included Courier (1850-1873): Morning Post and Shipping Gazette, (1850-1862);  Newfoundland Express, (1851- 1859);  Newfoundlander, (1851-1879) Patriot and Terra-Nova Herald, (1850-18900,  Pilot (1852-1853):  Public Ledger, (1850-1879); and the Royal Gazette, (1850-1909).

The estimated population of Newfoundland in 1851 was 100,000, the population of St. John’s approximately 31,000.

The Newfoundland Express published foreign and local news, legislative proceedings, shipping news, and advertisements.  It also boasted a poet’s corner. The paper was Conservative in editorial policy and one of two Wesleyan newspapers in St. John’s.  At this time in the history of the country (now province) most of the newspapers had a denominational attachment.

Initially the new paper published semiweekly eventually becoming a daily. In 1866 the formal title of the paper changed from Newfoundland Express to Express. The last known issue published was in July 1876.

Recommended Archival Collection:  At The Rooms Provincial Archives take some time to  read  copies of  The Newfoundland Express (The Express) that can be found on microfilm. The editions available at the Rooms Provincial Archives are 1862-[1863]-1864, [1866-1870]-1872.

Recommended Website:  For an Historical Directory of all Newfoundlandand Labrador Newspapers go to:

Recommended Activity:  Find the date of birth of your grandfather, grandmother  or your parents  find a newspaper for that date and read about the world that he or she were born into.