E.D. (Edward Deanes) Hand [ 1831 - 1919 ]

E.D. Hand is one of the most remarkable and interesting residents of Fenelon Falls during the 19th century. Hand arrived in Canada from England about 18501. He began his career in Fenelon Falls in 1868 as a grocer and seller of shoes. No doubt he opened a business here as a fresh start from his failure in the newspaper business in Lindsay, where the Lindsay Advocate (circa 1854/55 to 1868) had gone out of business due in part to the increasing success of the more “liberal” Canadian Post. Here in Fenelon Falls, he recovered his love of newspapers for by late 1869 he had moved to Bobcaygeon and founded The Independent (first issued 1870). He sold this paper to Charles Stewart in 1872 and moved back to Fenelon Falls (having been apparently offered a bonus to do so1) to create the Fenelon Falls Gazette. According to his own account the first issue came out, printed in the bar room of the Clifton House Hotel, in mid-February of that year [FFG 23 Feb 1894; 4]. Hand remained its editor and publisher until his retirement in September 1915. The printing office moved to Francis Street West (at the corner of May Street) in the fall of 1875 [CP 17 Sept 1875; 2 : 12 Nov 1875; 3], but was destroyed by fire in May of 1880. All previous issues of the Gazette were lost. Construction of new premises began almost immediately and continued as the newspaper offices well into the 1960s.

From the beginning the Gazette “preached sound Reform doctrine” and gladly took on any “tory” principles that dared raise their head. He was both loved and hated for his outspoken political views and “honest” reporting of regional events. He also enjoyed a number of nicknames, including “Fisty Hand”, the result of his supposed tight-fistedness. Through the issues of the Gazette that survive we get a picture of the village as it was in the 19th and early 20th centuries. It is a remarkable record, the more so as it is the production of one man. Hand also did job printing for commercial purposes and printed many of the pamphlets and booklets for local churches, organizations and fairs. He was also appointed the Division Court Clerk for Fenelon Falls in April 1889. [CP 5 April 1889: 5]

He sold the Gazette to J.J. Lee, in August 1915, and died 17 March, 1919, aged 87 years, 10 months, and 6 days. He is buried in the Fenelon Falls Cemetery.

In 1880 Hand mentions “our thirty year residence in Canada” [FFG 10 July 1880; 2].

In an editorial on Saturday December 31st, 1881, Hand defended his right to endorse contestants in the local election. In the process he makes the following remark. “We did not come to Fenelon Falls seeking assistance; but were written to and offered a bonus, part of which has not been paid to this day. We bought our printing materials for cash, had a little left, and could have started without a shilling of bonus.” [FFG 31 Dec 1881; 2]

Mr. E.D. Hand… has been appointed division court clerk at FF. We congratulate our contemporary and trust he may live long to enjoy the emoluments of the office. Delinquent subscribers will know what to do. [CP 5 April 1889: 5]

See Also

    © Copyright 2022 - Maryboro Lodge Museum