The Royal Gazette: the official newspaper of the government of Nova Scotia

We look at the history and function of the Royal Gazette, which provides Nova Scotians with notice of laws, proclamations and important governmental and legal information that governs their daily lives. 

Where it all startedHalifax Gazette front page

In September 1751, Bartholomew Green Jr, the grandson of the man who printed the first American newspaper, went to Halifax from Boston and set up a print shop on Grafton Street. 

Unfortunately for Green, he took ill and died four months later, aged 52. On news of his death, John Bushell, Green's former partner, sailed for Halifax and immediately assumed management of the new enterprise. Bushell arrived at about the end of January, and on Monday 23 March 1752, published the first issue of the Halifax Gazette, recognised as Canada's first newspaper. 

It is thought that the Halifax paper is also the third oldest on the North American continent. Authoritative sources agree that the earliest newspaper in the American colonies was Publick Occurences, published on 25 September 1690. The second newspaper was the News-Letter of Boston, published from 1704 to 1776 (founded by Green's father). The second Canadian newspaper didn’t make an appearance until more than 10 years after the Halifax Gazette, when the Quebec Gazette was published in June 1764.

The Halifax Gazette began as a small newspaper, merely a half-sheet containing European news, some local items and advertising – but official government notices were the mainstay of the business. The original newspaper had a woodcut on the right side of the title, representing a fowler pursuing game, and on the left was the depiction of a ship under full sail. 

The Halifax Gazette continues in existence today. The paper was published under various names, including the Nova-Scotia Gazette and the Weekly Chronicle, and the Royal Gazette and Nova Scotia Advertiser, under the first printer to be appointed as king's printer for Nova Scotia in 1788, Anthony Henry, and then as simply the Nova Scotia Royal Gazette under his successor, John Howe (father to Joseph) in 1801.The Nova Scotia Royal Gazette received official sanction as the government's newspaper.         


The current Royal Gazette is still the official government publication for proclamations and all legal notices made pursuant to statute. In 1977, Part II of the Royal Gazette was created to publish regulations made pursuant to the province's statutes. The Royal Gazette is still published under authority of the Queen's printer. Since May of 1996, the two parts of the Royal Gazette have been reunited in the Office of the Registrar of Regulations, Department of Justice.

In 2002, the Royal Gazette celebrated 250 years of publication. Not bad for a newspaper that began publication printed on a single half-sheet of paper!

In 2002, Library and Archives Canada announced the acquisition of the first issue of the Halifax Gazette from the Massachusetts Historical Society in Boston. It is the oldest Canadian item in Library and Archives Canada's rare book collection.

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Image: Original from the Halifax Gazette, No 1, 23 March 1752. First newspaper published in Canada © Public Domain, Library and Archives Canada

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