Owner and newspaper were ideologically reunited in 1917, when the Free Press backed UNION GOVERNMENT and CONSCRIPTION. During the 1920s, however, Dafoe and Sifton returned to the Liberal fold to support Mackenzie King and his government.
During this period the Free Press was a generally profitable enterprise and ran a highly successful farm weekly. Dafoe also began to gather together a skilled group of journalists. Employing such men as A. Grant DEXTER and Bruce HUTCHINSON, Dafoe's paper was the best-informed in Canada during periods of Liberal government. The Free Press was also notable for its coverage of foreign affairs. In 1931 the paper became the Winnipeg Free Press; 2 years earlier, when Sifton died, it had passed into the hands of his children.
Dafoe remained the dominant influence at the Free Press until his death in 1944. Although the Free Press employed some distinguished journalists as editors afterwards, eg, George FERGUSON, Hutchison and Tom KENT, it tended to become less distinctive and more profitable. In 1979 the paper was purchased by the Thomson Group; it absorbed its longstanding rival, the Winnipeg Tribune, and confirmed its dominance in the Winnipeg newspaper field. The paper, along with its sister paper the Brandon Sun, was acquired from Thomson in 2001 by FP Canadian Newspapers Limited Partnership. With the purchase of the Winnipeg Free Press, FP Canadian Newspapers Limited Partnership became the owner of the largest independent newspaper in Canada. The paper averages 125 000 readers seven days a week, including over 162 000 on Saturday.
Author ROBERT BOTHWELL Revised: JESSICA POTTER
Links to Other Sites
The official website for the City of Winnipeg.
Glossary: Newspaper Terms
A glossary of newspaper terms from the website for The London Free Press.
John Wesley Dafoe (1866-1944)
A brief review of John Wesley Dafoe's publishing career from the Manitoba Historical Society.
John W. Dafoe Family
See an inventory of John W. Dafoe Family papers at the University of Manitoba Archives & Special Collections. Includes a biography of Mr. Dafoe.