Dafoe, John Wesley

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Dafoe, John Wesley

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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.


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