Bon anniversaire, Le Devoir

The first issue of Le Devoir, Jan. 10, 1910

100 years ago today, Henri Bourassa published the first issue of a newspaper he somewhat arrogantly called Le Devoir. It was a different time then, both in terms of technology (there was no concept of desktop publishing as there is now) and in terms of politics (the paper was nationalist, but that meant they wanted independence from London, not Ottawa).

Despite nearly failing many times (see a full chronology and another piece focusing on finances), the paper survives. And it’s celebrating. It has an entire section on its website devoted to 100th anniversary stories, and has put its special commemorative magazine online for free in “virtual paper” and PDF formats.

They’re planning on milking this for the entire calendar year, with special events and publications. It starts today, when they’re inviting readers to meet the paper’s artisans at Marché Bonsecours, from 10am to 1pm. There will also be a special presentation and a commemorative envelope (they do those?) issued to honour the anniversary.

Le Devoir isn’t the only one celebrating. Among the celebrations from other media:

Allow me to add on: Happy anniversary. Try to stay out of bankruptcy for another century.

8 thoughts on “Bon anniversaire, Le Devoir

  1. Andrée

    A tiny comment (because your French is normally quite ok, I feel that I have to let you know about this one :-), but “anniversaire” in French in masculine, so you should correctly write “Bon anniversaire”, although this “liaison” sound with the initial vowel make us pronounce “bonne”. Otherwise, happy anniversary indeed to Le Devoir. Live long and prosper :-)

    1. Fagstein Post author

      If there was ever an argument for ridding the world of the French language, the insistence on assigning gender to inanimate objects and abstract concepts would be the top of my list.

      1. Andrée

        Then you’ll have to get rid of German too, where they give the neutral gender (yes, they have 3 of them, masculine, feminine and neutral…) to a little girl (das Mädchen) … for logical reasons :-)

        Thanks for the correction!

  2. morcego

    You forgot one: Canada Post issuing a commemorative stamp for the occasion (perhaps that’s the commemorative enveloppe they’ll be giving out at Bonsecours Market?).

  3. Heather H.

    Anniversaire is a masculine word, so your title should be BON Anniversaire :-) Radio-Canada’s look-back-in-news show. Tout le Monde en PARLAIT ran a fascinating 1-hour look-back at Le Devoir’s history yesterday. It even adressed the paper’s anti-semitic period in the 1930s, where former publishers took turn in admitting it was an embarassing black-eye to its reputation. It’s being re-run a few times this week on RDI, and might even be on their web site.

  4. H.Jean Morrison

    I wrote by MA theses on Omer Heroux, the first editor of ‘Le Devoir’ He was a journalist from 1897 to 1963. I interviewed early nationalits ( separatists) including Anne Bourassa the daughter of Henri Bourassa Is anybody interested?

  5. adski

    “…The French-Canadian newspaper Le Devoir – can you imagine a British paper selling a single copy if it called itself “Duty”? – published a cartoon of Wong with exaggerated Chinese slanted eyes. Definitely not pure laine for Le Devoir…”

    Robert Fisk
    The Independent, 21 July 2007

    Reprinted in:

    Robert Fisk
    “The Age of the Warrior – Selected Writings”


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