Call Number: Mss 3, Mf 15
Title: John W. Dafoe fonds.
Extent: 2.5 m of textual records. -- 32 reels
Biographical sketch: John W. Dafoe was born in
1866 in Combermere, Ontario (in the Ottawa Valley) to homesteading
parents. He began teaching at fifteen at Bark Lake near his home,
but left the area for a position as a cub, or junior reporter with
the Montreal Star. One year later he was sent to Ottawa
as a parliamentary reporter. In 1885 he moved to Winnipeg to work
as a reporter for the Manitoba Free Press. Dafoe convinced
his parents to move to Manitoba, and they bought a homestead near
Killarney. In 1892 he was appointed editor of the Montreal Herald.
When the paper ceased operations in 1895, Dafoe became editor of
the Family Herald. In 1898 Clifford Sifton, then Minister
of the Interior, purchased the Manitoba Free Press and offered
the position of editor to Dafoe. At thirty-five years of age he
returned happily to Winnipeg to assume his new post, which he would
fill with distinction for the next forty-two years. As editor, Dafoe
became a prominent spokesman on numerous issues. He was a strong
Liberal, and supported independence for Canada, equality within
the Commonwealth, constitutional reform, free trade, international
peace efforts, and improved education.
Custodial history: The fonds was donated to the
University of Manitoba Libraries by Victor Sifton, President and
Publisher of the Winnipeg Free Press Company Ltd. in 1954.
The records were eventually transferred to University of Manitoba
Archives & Special Collections when the unit was established.
Scope and content: The fonds consists of Dafoe's
personal and political records, including diaries, correspondence,
speeches, editorials, articles, memoranda, reports and news clippings.
Included are two unpublished diaries: one written in 1919 while
Dafoe attended the Paris Peace Conference, and the other written
in 1923 while at the Imperial Conference. Correspondence ranges
from 1896 to 1944 and is most complete in the years immediately
after the First World War. Dafoe had many correspondents all over
the world, most of whom dealt with public affairs, economic and
political issues, and international activities. Included in the
fonds are sixty-six speeches, mostly of a political nature, and
which range in date from 1911 to 1943. There is also a collection
of his writings, including his Manitoba Free Press editorials
from July to October of 1917, and 25 reports and research compilations
on a variety of subjects. Newspaper clippings include reviews of
his books and articles. Other miscellaneous material includes the
Dafoe family tree, memorials written by friends and peers, and a
semi-biographical sketch of Dafoe's early years written by his sister,
Mrs E. Emerson. Archives & Special Collections also houses an
ancillary collection, in microform format (MF 15), of his printed
Manitoba Free Press editorials from 1928 to 1944.
Restrictions: There are no restrictions on this
material. Family permission may be necessary for publication.
Accruals: No further accruals to this fonds are
Related material: MSS SC 80.
Finding aid: A printed finding aid is available
in the Archives reading room and an on-line finding aid is available
at the link below:
3, MF 15.