John Bushell

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John Bushell (March 18, 1715 — c. January 22, 1761) was the first printer in what is now Canada.

Bushell was born in Boston, Massachusetts and was apprenticed as a printer there. He subsequently worked for a number of different printers and had his own printing business until 1751, when he left for Halifax, Nova Scotia.[1]

A partner of Bushell's, Bartholomew Green, following a century-long family tradition in the trade, had left Boston for Halifax in October 1751 and brought all the necessary equipment to set up a printing shop.[2][3] He died shortly after his arrival and Bushell went to Halifax to continue the business.

Bushell's first publication was issued from his shop on Grafton Street on March 23, 1752.[4] The Halifax Gazette was published as a subscription newspaper and was a single broadside sheet, printed on both sides. This probably was the first work of any kind printed in Canada. He went on to print the Gazette until his death, when it was taken up by Anthony Henry.[5] The paper's content ranged from elegies, to excerpts from notable publications of the day, notices of upcoming dramatic productions around Halifax, and advertisements from booksellers about newly arrived books.[6]

Bushell's paper also advertised the availability of his press for miscellaneous printing jobs.[7] This was not enough to keep him out of insolvency, and he was in debt during most of his life in Halifax.[8][9]


  1. ^ Dictionary of Canadian Biography entry.
  2. ^ Fleming, p. 61
  3. ^ Gundy, p. 2
  4. ^ Fleming, p. 61.
  5. ^ Tremaine, p. 3.
  6. ^ Davies, pp. 369-370. In Fleming.
  7. ^ Fleming, p. 216.
  8. ^ DCB entry
  9. ^ Parker, p. 27.


  • Gundy, H. Pearson. Early Printers and Printing in the Canadas. Toronto: The Bibliographical Society, 1964.
  • Fleming, Patricia Lockheart; Gilles Gallichan and Yvan Lamonde [editors]. History of the Book in Canada: Volume 1, Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2004.
  • Parker, George L. The Beginnings of the Book Trade in Canada. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1984.
  • Tremaine, Marie. A Bibliography of Canadian Imprints. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1999.

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