Le Progres (Windsor)

Le Progres was a weekly French language newspaper that was published in Windsor (and sometimes Detroit) from 1881 to about 1919. It was not the first French newspaper in the region*, but it was the most dominant and long-lasting of the late 19th / early 20th century. It was founded by Aurele Pacaud (1847-1922). His brother, Gaspard Pacaud (1859-1928) was the chief editor in its early years, and Aurele’s son, Benjamin, was often the printer.
The Pacaud brothers were originally from the Arthabaska/Trois Rivieres region of Quebec. When they arrived in Windsor in 1881, they had little money, having lost their fortunes in the great recession of the mid-1870s. However, they came from a prominent, well-connected, liberal family and had several brothers who were politically active and already operating in the newspaper business in Quebec. This background likely led to the decision to start Le Progres. Also, at this time, there was a very large francophone population in Windsor and Essex County, with no French language newspaper to serve its needs. Le Progres began publication out of offices in the Curry Block, but for most of its existence, it was published from 16 Pitt Street West.
Le Progres definitely reflected the liberal leanings of its founders, although the Pacaud brothers could be flexible in their political outlook and ideology. Articles covered politics at all levels, social concerns, and the commercial life of the francophone community on both sides of the River. There is quite extensive coverage of Riel and the North-west resistance, as well as the many issues related to French language rights, particularly in schools. Le Progres also contained prose, poetry, jokes, puzzles, and other forms of entertainment, all of which was quite standard fare for the time.
In the mid-1880s, a rival French language newspaper was started up by a French immigrant, Auguste Bodard. It began in 1884 as the Courrier d’Essex, and then changed its name to Courrier de l’Ouest in mid-1885. It was a conservative newspaper, reflecting in many respects the conservative leanings of most of the County at the time. Nevertheless, he was not always in tune with the feelings and opinions of local residents. There were very heated exchanges between Bodard and the Pacaud brothers. These were sometimes about substantive issues such as French language education rights: French only vs bilingual schools. However, many articles also descended into very personal, acrimonious, character assassination. The Courrier de l’Ouest ceased publication in the Summer of 1886 and Auguste Bodard left Windsor in September of that year. He went on to pursue his passion, as part of the Societe d’Immigration Francaise, to recruit French immigrants to the Canadian West. Gaspard Pacaud, on the other hand, managed to get himself elected as a liberal MPP for Essex North in the December 1886 general election.
The Pacauds sold the newspaper business in December 1918 to Damien St. Pierre, Antonio Lucier (a.k.a. Lussier), and Albert Leblanc, who worked for Seguin Brothers Printing. They seem to have been publishing the newspaper, La Defense out of the offices of Le Progres for about 6 months and may have continued to publish Le Progres for a short while longer. In 1920, the Pacauds sold the actual newspaper property at 16 Pitt Street West for $20,000.
Updated: Katharine Ball, April 2022
*L’Etoile Canadienne was founded by a Mr. Truax in Sandwich. It began publishing January 19, 1871, and survived at least a year, and possibly much longer. It was taken over and published by Joseph A. Ouellette.  A Mr. J. A. Girard was also involved in its production. It appeared on Thursdays and cost $2.50 per year. After changing owners and places of publication several times, its last edition was published from the Free Press offices in Detroit.