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French language publication. Scanned from microfilm.
1884: August 8th - 1886: Summer/Autumn?
Le Courrier D'Essex 1884: August 8th - 1885: Spring
Le Courrier De L'Ouest 1885: Spring - 1886: Summer/Autumn?
Le Courrier D'Essex (Windsor), later entitled Le Courrier De L'Ouest (Windsor/Detroit), was a French language newspaper that was published between August 8th, 1884 and sometime in mid to late 1886. In theory, it appeared weekly, but in practice, only ever on an irregular basis. It came out first on Fridays, later Saturdays, and was printed in both Windsor and Detroit. Initially, a pre-paid subscription cost $1/year in Canada and the U.S., or 10 francs/year in France, Belgium, and Switzerland! The editor was Auguste Bodard.
Auguste Bodard was born in France on February 23rd, 1853 and emigrated to Quebec on June 23rd, 1873. In 1877, he married Oliva Beaubien in Kamouraska, Quebec, and at some point in the early 1880s, they moved to Essex County. Bodard was passionate about his adopted country and made it his life's work to attract other settlers from French-speaking countries and to strengthen the French presence in Canada.
Although Le Courrier D'Essex was meant to be the "organe des populations francaises D'Ontario et de L'Ouest", and have a local/regional focus, it is clear that Bodard also intended it to be a promotional tool to attract French speaking immigrants to the area. In some issues, he addresses this audience directly and portrays Essex County as a sort of paradise, with "un climat delicieux. Le raisin, les peches, les poires y poussent en abondance… on laboure en mars et recolte en juillet. Les vins du comte d'Essex ont une renommee universelle…." Potential immigrants are asked to contact him for further information. (1885: December 8th, page 4)
Le Courrier D'Essex was a politically conservative, family oriented, newspaper that strongly supported the Catholic Church. Not surprisingly, Bodard wanted to protect and enhance the French speaking community, in particular its culture and language. For example, he strongly advocated the building of more French language, catholic schools. This goal was not shared by some francophones who wanted their children to be educated in English for reasons of economic opportunity, or who felt that the English language instruction was simply better. On page 1 of the May 7th, 1886 issue, Bodard wrote angrily:
"Les syndics canadien d'Amherstburg ne voulant pas qu'on apprenne le francais dans les ecoles ont renvoye leurs instituteur francais et vont prendre un anglais qui rendra les canadiens "superieurs". Ce ne sont pas les syndics anglais qui ont fait le coup, ce sont les gens qui ont probablement honte de leur nationalite. Le people du comte d'Essex doit connaitre les noms de ces traitres: ce sont les nommes Belcourt et Robidoux."
A lot of the newspaper's content was more mundane - a mixture of local and international news, advertising, poetry, and prose. There are, however, some brief accounts of contemporary events such as the Riel Rebellion.
In late 1886 or early 1887, Auguste Bodard moved to Montreal and became Secretary-General of the Societe d'Immigration Francaise (founded August 2nd, 1887). In 1893, he was appointed as the Canadian government's official immigration officer in Paris, France. After about 5 years, he resigned his position because he wanted to return to Canada and live the life of a settler, and support other French speaking settlers. From about 1900 onwards, he lived at Port Daniel, Quebec. Quite a lot is known about this period of his life because in 1909 he petitioned the Quebec Legislature to ask for immigration/settlement reforms and justice for colonial farmers (http://ia600806.us.archive.org/1/items/cihm_71487/cihm_71487.pdf)
After a life spent championing Canada and French immigration, he died in Montreal on July 2nd, 1915, and was buried in Notre Dame cathedral.