Gazette Printing Office
The Gazette Printing Office at Upper Canada Village represents a small town commercial printing shop of the 1860s that also publishes a weekly newspaper. The printing press appeared in Upper Canada as early as 1793 when Governor Simcoe persuaded Louis Roy, a journeyman printer from Quebec, to come to Newark (Niagara-on-the-Lake). He became the King's Printer and published the Upper Canada Gazette, the province's first newspaper, which survived in a variety of forms as the official mouthpiece of the government until 1845.
As new communities were established throughout the province during the 19th century, printing offices shared the main street with other commercial trades and shops. Many printers were also publishers of newspapers and periodicals, most of which reflected their own political, religious or economic points of view. The local newspaper literally became the window on the rest of the world, re-printing articles from other national or international sources. A substantial amount of paid advertising space helped pay the bills. A small amount of local news and weekly serial fiction filled out the columns.
The printing plates for the newspaper's four pages were composed each week by typesetters who placed the lead letters one by one into columns to create the text. Posters and hand-bills were done similarly in letters made of wood or lead. Letters were stored in cases according to size and style. Dampened sheets of cotton rag paper were placed onto the press one at a time to print copies which, when dried and pressed flat, were ready for readers and customers.
To add to their income, printing offices also sold stationery, books, school supplies and wall-paper. Some were also book-binders. Many prominent Canadian politicians of this time began their careers not only in law offices but in newspaper offices as well.
Visitors to Upper Canada Village can take the opportunity to visit the Gazette Printing Office and see traditional printing activities and to read the local "Gazette" which reflects the life and times of the 1860s.