Essex County (Ontario) Newspapers


James H. Wilkinson



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Place of Publication

Sandwich, Ontario


Title Variations

Sandwich Maple Leaf

Amherstburg Maple Leaf


County of Essex Informant and Advocate

Publication Dates

1856: Feb. 29 (Vol. 1: no. 1) – 1861



Online Holdings

1856: Feb. 29 (Vol. 1: no. 1) – 1857: Feb. 19 (Vol. 1: no. 52)

Note: 1856: Oct. 16 (Vol. 1: no. 34) has 2 missing pages

1857: Feb. 26 (Vol. 2: no. 1) – 1858: Feb. 18 (Vol. 2: no. 52)

Includes: 1857: Dec. 28 Maple Leaf Extra: Sandwich; 1 page

Includes: 1857: Dec. 30 Amherstburg Extra; 1 page

Note: 1858: Feb. 4, Feb. 11, and Feb. 18 are damaged

1860: Nov. 20 (Vol. 5) Extra 1 page

1860: Dec. 26 (Vol. 5: no. 26);

1861: Jan. 30 (Vol. 5: no. 31); 1861: Mar. 20 (Vol. 5: no. 38) – 1861: April 10 (Vol. 5: no. 41)


Maple Leaf (Sandwich and Amherstburg), Newspapers, Sandwich (Ontario), Amherstburg (Ontario), Essex County (Ontario)


Canadian History | Public History


Public Domain


The Maple Leaf was a weekly newspaper published mainly in Sandwich (sometimes Sandwich and Amherstburg) for about 5-6 years from February 29th, 1856 to 1861.

The editor and publisher from 1856-1858 was James H. Wilkinson. It then continued to be published by the printer, James C. Vestey until 1861. The newspaper office was located in a brick building on Lot 2, East Bedford Street, Sandwich. Wilkinson apparently purchased the building and business from the Canada Oak newspaper when it ceased publishing. In the beginning, the Maple Leaf appeared Friday mornings, but later Wednesdays and Thursdays.

The newspaper’s motto was “Progress” and Wilkinson’s intention was to advocate for public improvements in Essex County, especially roads and railways. Although not officially affiliated with any political party, the Maple Leaf was very conservative leaning. In his first editorial (1856: Feb. 29, page 2), Wilkinson wrote “We wish to conserve our British institutions….they are the monuments of our patriotism which is our pride and our boast, from the all destroying hand of democracy….”

The newspaper carried reports and proceedings from bodies such as the Legislative Assembly, the Legislative Council, and the County Council. It also contained court schedules and court reports. There were many articles on agricultural practices and techniques, as well as the usual advertisements, poetry, prose and national/international stories copied from the other newspapers. Local issues were also reported, e.g. education, fire protection, slavery and slave hunters. The 1857/1858 Legislative Assembly election was covered extensively.

Later, under the editorship of James Vestey, the Maple Leaf became far more liberal in its outlook. At some point, after April 1861, the newspaper ceased, and the printing equipment was purchased by P. G. Laurie. He moved it to Windsor where he then started the Essex Record/Windsor Record newspaper.

James Hands Wilkinson was born in Sandwich in 1829. As well as founding the Maple Leaf newspaper, he was a lawyer, the County Clerk from 1854 to 1857, church warden at St. John’s Church from 1861 to 1865, was a lieutenant in the 1st Essex Battalion, and served on the Board of Education and Sandwich Town Council. He died July 25th, 1892, in Sandwich.

Updated: Katharine Ball, June 2020

Source of Our Digitized Holdings

Museum Windsor

To view online at the Internet Archive:

Maple Leaf (Sandwich and Amherstburg)



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