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Dictionary of Miramichi Biography

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STEWART, JAMES LEMUEL (1843-1923)

STEWART, JAMES LEMUEL, newspaper publisher and editor; sportsman, and politician; b. Advocate Harbour, Cumberland Co., N.S., 5 Apr 1843, s/o Charles Edward Stewart and Caroline Morris; unmarried; d. Melrose, Mass., 24 Apr 1923.

James L. Stewart's parents were Nova Scotians, but when he was a boy they settled at Milltown in Charlotte County, N.B., where his father was employed as a mill worker. Stewart attended local schools, and in 1866 he was one of the young men who took up arms to defend the New Brunswick border against the threat of a Fenian invasion from the United States. Around 1867 he took his first newspaper job with the Saint Croix Courier of St Stephen, the editor of which sent him out to canvass Charlotte County for new subscribers. He was afterwards assigned to Fredericton as that paper's legislative reporter. About 1871 he was hired by John Livingston, the proprietor of the St John Daily Telegraph and Morning Journal. He later worked for short periods on Livingston's Saint John Daily Tribune, the Moncton Daily Times, the Halifax Herald, and other papers, including the Presbyterian Advocate, which was published in Saint John until 1876. In 1877-78 he was the managing editor of the Saint John Daily News, and he was the first editor of the Saint John Daily Sun, which began publication in the summer of 1878. Later he was a reporter in Ottawa.

In 1882 Stewart founded the twice-weekly Chatham World, the first issue of which was dated 18 January. For two years the paper was owned by the World Publishing Co., consisting of eight local investors, of whom Robert R. Call was the first named. In 1884 it was bought by Stewart, who had already become one of the most respected newspapermen on the Miramichi. He was also a popular speaker on journalistic and literary subjects and a lecturer in the "Lyceum program" while that mode of public instruction and entertainment was in vogue. In 1909 he was elected president of the New Brunswick Press Association, and in 1910 of the Maritime Press Association. He was described in 1921 as having been dean of the Fourth Estate in New Brunswick for some time. His newspaper was strongest in the realm of political and social commentary, rather than in local news gathering and reporting. In fact, The World often displayed a profound lack of interest or effort in regard to Miramichi news and had become a humdrum publication in most other respects as well long before Stewart's demise.

Stewart interested himself in business and civic affairs, as well as provincial politics. In 1909 he was elected president of Hotel Touraine Ltd, which bought the large hotel erected the previous year in Chatham by Peter Archer. He was a Chatham town councillor for several terms and a school trustee for twenty-five years. In 1912 he ran successfully as an independent Conservative for a seat in the Legislative Assembly and sat until 1917. When he was defeated in the election that year he did not reoffer.

Although he lost his left hand in an accident early in life, Stewart was a dedicated sportsman and a leading figure in the Miramichi Yacht Club. He was elected a corresponding member of the Natural History Society of New Brunswick in 1883 and was president of the Miramichi Natural History Association from 1909 to 1912. In 1913 he was a director of the Miramichi Exhibition Association. He was a longtime member and sometime grand master of the Independent Order of Oddfellows. His family had been Baptist, but like most other Miramichi newspapermen of his time he was identified with the Methodist church. In later life he was described as a Unitarian. He was a moderate in religion who despised and ridiculed narrow-mindedness and zealotry.

Stewart's taunting of his competitor David G. Smith, the editor of the Miramichi Advance, was harsh to the point of cruelty. Towards most other people he was courteous and charitable, but he had "a love of mischief and a certain want of superficial and conventional reverence." He could be very engaging and won many loyal friends, one of the younger of whom was W. Max Aitken (Lord Beaverbrook). Aitken entertained him in 1918 when he visited the Western Front with a contingent of Canadian newspaper editors.

Stewart was staying at the Bowser House in 1891, but a few years later his mother and a sister moved to Chatham and shared a home with him. He was receiving treatment at the New England Sanitorium in Massachusetts when his death occurred in 1923, at age eighty. Under Jacob Y. Mersereau and its subsequent owners The World continued to be issued until 1929, when it was merged with The Commercial to create The Commercial and The World.

Sources

[b/d] Telegraph 25 Apr 1923 / Advance 1 Mar 1894, 8 Mar 1894, 13 Sep 1900; Advocate 25 Jan 1882, 19 Jun 1907, 10 Sep 1918, 27 Mar 1929; Can. Parl. Guide, 1916; Graves; Leader 15 Apr 1921, 10 May 1973; Morgan (CM&W) 1912; MacMillan; NB Newspapers; PPMP; scrapbook #87 (article #28 by Ian Sclanders); World 22 Mar 1882, 3 Mar 1883, 2 Jul 1884, 6 Nov 1909, 25 Jan 1913, 9 Apr 1913, 24 Aug 1918, 7 Jun 1919, 25 Aug 1920, 16 Apr 1921, 25 Apr 1923


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