The Widow’s Mite

19 Feb
A bronze Widow's Mite or Lepton, minted by Ale...

A bronze Widow’s Mite (Photo credit: Wikipedia)



Some of Canada’s best newspapers were founded on shoestrings by men like Patrick Laurie who began his career by publishing the Owen Sound Times in the 1850s at the age of twenty.

Laurie’s next venture was the Essex Recorder, but his ambition was to publish a newspaper int he prairies and he move to Fort Garry in 1869, just as Canada bought the territory that had been controlled by the Hudson’s Bay Company.

During the Red River uprising Laurie was such a thorn in Riel’s side that Riel took over his paper, the Nor-wester, and offered $2,000 for his arrest.  Laurie had to escape across the border and go to Windsor, Ontario.

Laurie’s heart was still in the West, and in 1878, he loaded four Red River carts with equipment and set out for Battleford.  He began publishing the Saskatchewan Herald in 1878.  Although the railway had not reached Battleford, it was on the telegraph line connecting Winnipeg and Edmonton so Laurie was able to send news to other parts of Canada.  The Saskatchewan Herald kept people informed about the events that were leading up to the Northwest Rebellion of 1885.  Battleford itself was besieged by Poundmaker’s Indians for nearly a month, and Laurie took his place in the Home Guard.

After the rebellion, the people in the Battleford area paid Laurie a magnificent tribute, collecting a purse of $220 for him.  This does not seem much today, but it was “the widow’s mite.”  The entire budget of the government of the Northwest Territories in 1879 was only $237.37!

On February 19, 1887, the Edmonton Bulletin said, “If any editor ever deserved such recognition, the editor of the Herald is that man.  He has been engaged in publishing a two-horse paper in a one-horse town for so many years, that it is about time the latter tried to even  up a little.”



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5 responses to “The Widow’s Mite

  1. whatmeread

    February 20, 2013 at 8:46 am

    Hi, this is very interesting. I tried to “like” it, but your like functionality doesn’t seem to be working.

    • tkmorin

      February 20, 2013 at 9:49 am

      That’s okay, comments are better anyways! I’m glad you like it! 🙂

      • whatmeread

        February 20, 2013 at 10:20 am

        Yes, it’s funny how you hear these expressions for years without wondering what they mean. I had no idea it was a sum of money.

  2. seeker

    February 19, 2013 at 6:28 pm

    I guess this how Saskatchewan became known to the rest of Canada because of Laurie. I wonder what really “made” him move to the prairie? Good history, TK.

    • tkmorin

      February 19, 2013 at 6:38 pm

      Thanks! Good question …. 🙂


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