PIP # 2 – “Judging us by our work”
By Louise Peloquin
The first Etoile peek into the past, posted on September 8th, jumped right into business nitty-gritty such as offering services, obtaining orders and paying bills.
The New England Investment Company acquired L’Etoile in 1909 and went bankrupt after a series of ambitious moves such as enlarging the newspaper format from six to seven columns, purchasing new printing presses and upgrading headquarters. A year later, the newspaper was auctioned off and purchased by Louis-A. Biron and Paul Chaput.
What was their vision for the newspaper?
Below is Biron’s first editorial, published on October 7, 1910.
Daily newspaper published by L’Etoile Publishing Company
Subscription, $3.00 per year.
All communications must be addressed to L’Etoile Publishing Company, 463 Merrimack Lowell, Mass.
Friday, 7th October 1910
Today, we are taking over the publication of L’Etoile, interrupted for the reasons we know and on which we shall not come back.
We shall take from the old Etoile, that-is-to-say that of its founders (1), what appears to us to be worthy of conserving, in order to reject the methods and the principles which are not in accordance with the conception we have formed of journalism in our Franco-American centers.
L’Etoile of former days was an ardent and sincere defender of the Franco-American cause; we shall follow this same path but we shall use a lot of circumspection and moderation, carefully avoiding needlessly adding fuel to the fire.
We shall relate events, we shall judge acts with complete impartiality, without any bias. We think that there lies the present need in our city. We prefer to be a cause of entente and of good will with one another than to be a bone of contention, as too many badly inspired newspapers are inclined to become.
Finally, we hope to make an irreproachable newspaper, supervising, as much as possible, the news we shall publish, choosing our reproductions with care. That should suffice for us to merit the esteem and the confidence of the public. It would not be suitable, in any case, to speak of our principles or to make a profession of faith: we leave to our readers the charge of judging us by our work. (2)
Biron’s three children worked at L’Etoile. Marthe, the youngest, took on a variety of tasks from accounting to covering daily news, writing features, reviews and editorials.
Interviewed in 1994 by a Master’s student from France, Marthe Biron Peloquin commented on her father’s vision for L’Etoile.
My father was committed to the survival of the language, the culture, the Franco-American identity. However, he encouraged biculturalism because, according to him, one must not remain a stranger in the country where one has chosen to live…. The newspapers greatly encouraged the immigrants who wished to remain to request citizenship in order to enable them to influence their milieu, to use their talents and to have all of the privileges granted to citizens….The study of English was also encouraged to allow them to run for local elections, to succeed in business and to communicate with other groups.
The newspaper was his mission. However, he had taken certain precautions to guarantee that it would not be his main source of livelihood. (3) That gave him more independence of thought because no one could buy his opinion. (4)
In 1910, L’Etoile had approximately 6000 subscribers.
1) L’Etoile was founded in March 1886 by a Lowell association called Le Cercle Canadien.
2) Translation from French by Louise Peloquin.
3) L’Etoile Publishing Company offered a wide range of printing services.
4) Translation from French by Louise Peloquin.
Quotations taken from “The Franco-American Press in New England (1865-1929)” by Stéphanie Rabin. Master’s Degree dissertation for the University of Paris Sorbonne,1995. Pages 67-68.