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Call Number: Mss 3, Mf 15

Title: John W. Dafoe fonds.

Dates: 1896-1944.

Extent: 2.5 m of textual records. -- 32 reels of microfilm.

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 Included are two unpublished diaries: one written in 1919 while Dafoe attended the Paris Peace Conference, and the other written in 1923 while at the Imperial Conference.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 expected.

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:

MSS 3, MF 15.