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Fleury Mesplet

Fleury Mesplet, 1794

Fleury Mesplet (January 10, 1734 – January 24, 1794) was a French-born Canadian printer best known for founding the Montreal Gazette, Quebec's oldest daily newspaper, in 1778.[1][2]


Mesplet was born in Marseille, France, and was apprenticed as a printer in Lyon. He emigrated to London in 1773 where he set up shop in Covent Garden.[1]

In 1774 he emigrated to Philadelphia; it is thought that he may have been persuaded to do so by Benjamin Franklin. In Philadelphia he again went into business as a printer, but received little work; he printed the Lettre adressée aux habitants de la province de Québec, ci-devant le Canada (Letter to the Inhabitants of Canada) for the Continental Congress in 1775, and travelled to Montreal the following year to set up a printing press in the newly captured city.

As the Americans withdrew from Montreal, he was arrested and imprisoned, but released later in the year; despite this, he managed to publish several works in 1776.

In 1778 he founded the Gazette Littéraire de Montréal, edited by Valentin Jautard.[3] Both were arrested in 1779 for sedition, and imprisoned for three years; on his release, Mesplet was $5,000 in debt—yet he quickly dealt with his creditors, and in 1785, published La Gazette de Montréal, now the Montreal Gazette, the successor to the suspended Gazette Littéraire.

In total, he published some seventy or eighty works, in French, English, Latin, and Iroquois; ten of these ran to more than a hundred pages, and another seven were almanacs.


  1. ^ a b Galarneau, Claude. "Mesplet, Fleury", in Dictionary of Canadian Biography Online, University of Toronto and Université Laval, 2000, retrieved January 15, 2009
  2. ^ Steinberg, S. H. (1974). Five Hundred Years of Printing; 3rd ed., revised by James Moran. Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1974, 400 p. (1st ed.: 1955)
  3. ^ Doyon, Nova, "L'Académie de Montréal (1778): fiction littéraire ou projet utopique ?", in Mens, vol 1, no 2, Spring 2001, pp. 115-140.

Further reading

  • Brunet, Michel (1951). Les Idées politiques de la Gazette littéraire de Montréal (1778-1779), 8 p.
  • Derome, Robert, Bernard Andrès, Marc-André Bernier, and Yvan Lamonde. "The Publications of Mesplet and du Calvet", in the site Images from the Turn of a Century 1760-1840. A Portrait of Arts, Literature and Eloquence in Québec, 2000 (was also an exhibition presented at the Château Ramezay Museum between January 27 and May 28, 2000)
  • Fauteux, Aegidius (1934). Fleury Mesplet; une étude sur les commencements de l'imprimerie dans la ville de Montréal, United States, s.n, 35 p. (online)
  • Fleury Mesplet (1734-1794) at the Wayback Machine (archived March 11, 2005), in the site of 'ALAQ, 2002
  • Lagrave, Jean-Paul de & Ruelland, Jacques G. (2001). L'imprimeur des Libertés : Fleury Mesplet (1734-1794) : roman historique, Montréal: Éditions Point de Fuite, 391 p. ISBN 2-89553-019-X
  • Lagrave, Jean-Paul de (1994). L'Époque de Voltaire au Canada: biographie politique de Fleury Mesplet, imprimeur, Montreal: L'Étincelle éditeur, 502 p.
  • Lagrave, Jean-Paul de (1985). Fleury Mesplet, 1734-1794 : diffuseur des Lumières au Québec, Montréal : Patenaude, 503 p.
  • McLachlan, Robert Wallace (1906). Fleury Mesplet, the First Printer at Montreal, Ottawa: Royal Society of Canada, 113 p. (online)
  • Morin, Victor (1939). Fleury Mesplets, pionnier de l'imprimerie à Montréal : causerie faite au dîner annuel des Maîtres imprimeurs de Montréal le 19 avril 1939, Montreal: Compagnie de papier Rolland limitée, 30 p.
  • Trudel, Marcel (1945). L'influence de Voltaire au Canada, Tome I: de 1760 à 1850, Montréal: Publications de l'Université Laval, Fidès, 1945.
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