La Defense (Windsor)

  • Mar. 7, 1918 to Mar. 7, 1918
  • # of Issues scanned: 2
  • # of Pages scanned: 8
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    Scanned from microfilm.

    Publication Dates

    1918: March 7th - 1920: September 2nd?




    La Defense was an 8 page, weekly, French language newspaper that appeared from March 7th, 1918 to September 2nd?, 1920. It was published in the wake of the blockades, the riot and the boycott at Notre Dame Du Lac church in Ford City (August-September 1917), and the provocative actions of Bishop Michael Francis Fallon. It was a product of part of the broad francophone outrage at the Ontario Ministry of Education's regulation 17 (1912/1913), which greatly limited the use of French as a language of instruction in bilingual schools. Its aim was to inform the French speaking population of southwestern Ontario and to promote and re-invigorate the nationalist cause.

    The motto of the newspaper: "Vivre pour defendre l'Eglise, ma race et ma langue" was a saying of Lucien Beaudoin, the nationalist parish priest at Notre Dame Du Lac church, whose death on August 19th 1917 touched off the main unrest. The prospectus for La Defense calls it "une arme de combat" or rather "une arme defensive". The first issue of March 7th, 1918 does indeed report on the struggles surrounding the French language, education, and culture, but still within a stated context of deep respect for the Catholic Church and a patriotic attachment to Canada. In subsequent issues, readers are kept apprised of the ongoing, local situation and reminded of the rationale behind the boycott of the new priest, F. X. Laurendeau (Prayers, Petitions, and Protests by Jack Cecillon. Page 166). In truth, the majority of the first issue, at least, was devoted to the standard newspaper content of the time: some local news, a lot of mainstream national and international news, poetry, prose, and advertisements.

    The owner and publisher was Antonio Lussier; the editorial staff included Joseph de Grandpre, Joseph Gregoire, and Gustave Lacasse, with support from others such as Damien and Tancrede Saint-Pierre. In 1918, they were located in the LaBelle Block, on the southwest corner of Ouellette Avenue and London Street (now University Avenue). Later, they moved to 16 Pitt Street West and shared offices with the newspaper, Le Progres. The early issues, volume 1: nos. 1-41 were printed in Ottawa (University of Ottawa Archives ( Later, on June 8th, 1920, Antonio Lussier incorporated: L'Imprimerie Franco-Canadienne, Limitee, and the newspaper was then printed in Windsor. He received financial support from L'Association Canadienne-Francaise D'Education D'Ontario.

    Ultimately, La Defense failed after a little more than 2 1/2 years. The collapse of the boycott did not help. Also, the French speaking population of Essex and Kent counties was somewhat suspicious of the owner and editorial staff of La Defense, because they were all relative newcomers to this area. Quite a lot of local francophones did not share their views on the use of French in schools; many others were indifferent about the issue; the community was not united. Antonio Lussier left Windsor probably late in 1921. However, one of the editors, Gustav Lacasse, remained, and later founded La Presse-Frontiere (1921-1922?) and the more successful Feuille D'Erable (1931-1958).