MP-1977.76.37 | The Star office decorated for Queen Victoria's Jubilee, St. James Street, Montreal, QC, 1897

The Star office decorated for Queen Victoria's Jubilee, St. James Street, Montreal, QC, 1897
Alfred Walter Roper
1897, 19th century
Silver salts on glass - Gelatin dry plate process
10 x 12 cm
Gift of Mr. Vennor Roper
© McCord Museum
Keywords:  Architecture (8646) , Cityscape (3948) , commercial (1771) , Photograph (77678) , streetscape (1737)
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Keys to History

The Montreal Star was the most successful example of a new breed of Canadian newspaper, the mass-circulation daily. Founded in 1869 by Montreal journalist Hugh Graham (1848-1938), the Star shifted away from narrow, nineteenth-century, party-political journalism to embrace a strategy dedicated to advertising revenue and popular readership. It sold for a penny and appeared daily. It introduced photographic illustrations and divided the news into sections - business, sports, women's world, etc. Politics was confined to editorials. By 1899 the Star had a daily readership of 52,600. It quickly found a national readership; by 1913 40% of its circulation was outside Montreal.

Between 1899 and 1921 daily newspaper circulation grew 233 per cent. Other cities copied the Star's success. The Toronto Star was founded in 1892 by Joseph Atkinson. Newspaper publishing became "big business." By 1921 Canada had 113 dailies.

  • What

    The mass-circulation daily became the template of twentieth-century newspapers. Divided into sections, it capitalized on new, cost-reducing printing technology, plentiful Canadian newsprint, wire services for its news and a corps of professional journalists. Advertising and broad circulation generated the profits.

  • Where

    Montreal was Canada's largest (population 467,000 in 1911) and wealthiest city, and thus the most fertile ground for daily newspapers. French-speaking Montrealers were served by their own dailies, like La Presse, founded in 1884.

  • When

    The emergence of the mass-circulation daily newspaper coincided with several social trends in Canada: growing literacy, the availability of disposable income for entertainment, broader political participation and electric lighting for evening reading.

  • Who

    Hugh Graham's newspaper success led to a knighthood in 1908 and a baronetcy -- Lord Atholstan -- in 1917. His grand home still stands on Sherbrooke Street near the McCord Museum .