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Shallow, FranCIS-Dominic (baptized François-Dominique, he also signed Francis D., Frank D., and most often F. D.), merchant and newspaperman; b. 3 Aug. 1853 in the parish of Saint-Grégoire (Mont-Saint-Grégoire), Lower Canada, son of Thomas Shallow and Jane Sherry; m. 30 Sept. 1879 Annie Hamall in Montreal, and they had eight children, five of whom survived him; d. 27 Oct. 1932 in Montreal and was buried there two days later in Notre-Dame-des-Neiges cemetery.

Born to Irish parents, Francis-Dominic Shallow studied in Iberville (Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu) and then at St John’s High School in Saint-Jean (Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu), where he lived with his family. After spending some years in the western United States, he returned to settle in Saint-Jean in 1874 and opened a small grocery store with his brother. The business went bankrupt in 1877 following a large fire that had broken out in the town in June of the previous year. The Shallow brothers tried to pursue their business activities in Montreal for a few months but without success. Francis-Dominic subsequently joined the Montreal business press as a correspondent for the Journal of Commerce, Finance and Insurance Review. From 1881 to 1884 he was an advertising agent for Le Moniteur du commerce.

The only French-language publication of its kind in Canada, Le Moniteur du commerce was a business weekly founded in 1881 by Arthur Dansereau*, its owner, and his brother Edmond, who was the business manager. Three years later the enterprise was floundering, and in July 1884 it passed into the hands of Shallow and Trefflé Berthiaume*. Finally, on 10 Oct. 1887, Shallow bought out Berthiaume’s holdings. He remained sole proprietor of the Montreal weekly, which he would run until 1931. Shallow was not a journalist; he seldom wrote anything, but he knew how to surround himself with competent colleagues.

Le Moniteur du commerce had been launched on 25 Feb. 1881. Louis Dagron-Richer served as its first editor until he was dismissed by the Dansereau brothers on 21 Sept. 1883. Shallow, who had known Dagron-Richer at the Journal of Commerce, Finance and Insurance Review, rehired him when he became owner of the francophone weekly. But soon afterwards, in July 1886, Shallow in turn let Dagron-Richer go. On each occasion, the editor alleged that he had in fact resigned because he refused to be censored by his bosses. Always quick to defend the impartiality and independence of his newspaper, Shallow responded publicly and harshly: his former editor, sick and elderly, was doing shoddy work and should have “resigned willingly,” as the issue of 16 July 1886 reported. Shallow also quarrelled with Jules Helbronner*, assistant editor and later editor-in-chief of Le Moniteur du commerce. The two protagonists of these events would hold a lingering grudge: in September 1887 in Montreal, Helbronner even launched, with Jean-Baptiste Monier, a competing paper called Le Prix courant, but it was never as successful as Le Moniteur du commerce.

From 1886 to 1888 Le Moniteur du commerce was edited by Charles Savary*. This former banker, whose past was controversial, came with an extensive knowledge of business. One of his articles, published on 18 Nov. 1887, accused the Banque d’Hochelaga and the Banque Jacques-Cartier of incompetence for having allowed themselves to be drawn into an undertaking that had proved costly for their clients. According to Savary, both these French Canadian banks found themselves “invariably [involved] in every bad venture.” The banks started legal proceedings for defamatory libel. The lawsuits were initially won by Shallow, who congratulated himself on this victory of freedom of the press. But on 28 Feb. 1895 the Court of Revision quashed the jury’s verdict and ordered a retrial. Acknowledging that he was in the wrong, Shallow made honourable amends in his newspaper on 15 November, six years after Savary’s death: “Our editor overstepped the mark and made an accusation that evidence cannot sustain.… Since then, these two banks have continued to prosper and [they] are today leaders of the banking business as far as our nationality is concerned.”

Yet Shallow’s real partner remained Stanislas Côté. Born in Saint-Jean in 1846, he was called to the bar in 1870 but almost immediately chose journalism, with the result that he already had considerable experience by the time he joined Le Moniteur du commerce in 1884. He became its editor in 1888, a post he would hold until his death in 1920.

The circulation of the weekly varied between 2,000 and 3,000 during the 1880s and subsequently between 3,000 and 4,000. It was distributed throughout the province, and even in Ontario, the United States, London, and Paris.

The aim of Le Moniteur du commerce was to encourage the development of economic ventures by French Canadians who, according to Shallow and Côté, had to regain a level of influence proportional to their population, participate in building Canada, and flourish in complete harmony with their anglophone compatriots. The publication wished to guide them in the process and improve their chances of success by ensuring that they acquired a better knowledge of economic issues, particularly those related to commerce, industry, and finance. At the turn of the century Le Moniteur du commerce also styled itself a newspaper of political and social economy. Political partisanship was proscribed, however, as were issues of religion: although the owner and the editor were practising Roman Catholics, they believed that religion was a private matter. On most subjects they took a liberal view and placed private property and individualism at the heart of societal organization. Work, saving, and honesty were valued, but so were ambition, the entrepreneurial spirit, and the pursuit of maximum profit.

Shallow was openly committed to founding a francophone chamber of commerce in Montreal. This objective was accomplished on 15 Dec. 1886 at a meeting chaired by Alphonse Desjardins* at which some 50 French Canadian businessmen signed a proposal to establish the Chambre de Commerce du District de Montréal. Very active in the new association, Shallow was a member of the board from 1887 to 1896. He participated in the import-export commission in 1887, and then the railways, telephone, and telegraph commission in 1895 and 1896. Le Moniteur du commerce was to have served as the organ of the chamber of commerce, but a personality conflict with the vice-president, Joseph-Xavier Perrault*, whom the newspaper characterized as a meddler, limited collaboration in the early years. Stanislas Côté accepted the post of secretary for the chamber of commerce in 1888 and in so doing renewed the close links between the association and the business paper. In 1899, however, the chamber developed its own Bulletin, much to the displeasure of Shallow and Côté. Although relations with the association were less harmonious, they did continue – its members made up a large pool of subscribers and potential buyers of advertising, a fact of which Shallow was fully aware. Whereas Côté resigned from his duties in the chamber, Shallow assumed the less active status of lifetime member from 1898. Le Moniteur du commerce also served as the organ of the Retail Dry-Goods Merchants Society of the Province of Quebec from 1881 until at least 1914.

Although Shallow was in favour of freedom of the press, he would not put up with malicious attacks. In April and May 1906 Olivar Asselin published two articles and a caricature in Le Nationaliste in which he summarily and without proof accused Le Moniteur du commerce of blackmailing insurance companies that were reportedly forced to purchase advertising to avoid negative criticism in the business weekly. Shallow promptly retorted by starting proceedings for defamatory libel. On June 16, before the trial had begun, an article in the Gazette revealed the details of the plea that Asselin intended to enter, including the names of various companies and those of a handful of agents of Le Moniteur du commerce, but again without providing any evidence. Shallow then brought further proceedings and filed a claim for $10,000 from the Gazette Printing Company. He initially lost his case in the Superior Court. However, on 23 Dec. 1907 the Court of King’s Bench overturned the initial decision, at the same time reducing the damages to be paid to Shallow to $250: the editor of the English-language daily had made a mistake but had apparently acted without malice in the matter. Finally, on 12 Feb. 1909, the Supreme Court upheld this judgement.

The case highlighted an aspect of the operation of freedom of the press in Canada. Journalists at the time were well aware that they did not have the right to repeat lies, insults, or defamatory statements on pain of prosecution, which was fairly frequently the outcome. On the other hand, after a trial had opened, the offending statements became judicial news that the press could report with complete impunity. Not surprisingly, on 19 February, Le Moniteur du commerce was openly overjoyed by the “great legal victory” won by Shallow and his lawyer, Gonzalve Desaulniers.

Although regular complaints appeared in the pages of Le Moniteur du commerce about subscribers who did not pay their dues, Shallow made a fortune with his publication. The family lived in high style: a principal residence in Westmount, a country house in Sainte-Anne-de-Bellevue, and an impressive domestic staff that included two chauffeurs, a Chinese cook, and a Japanese butler.

Esteemed by his fellow citizens, Francis-Dominic Shallow was appointed justice of the peace for the district of Montreal in 1892. A member of the Albany Club in Toronto, he was also one of the patrons of Notre-Dame Hospital in Montreal. After his death in 1932 his son Charles-Taschereau-Roy, assistant manager of Le Moniteur du commerce since 1918, continued publication for a few years and then liquidated the business in 1935.

Fernande Roy

BANQ-CAM, CE601-S1, 30 sept. 1879; CE601-S51, 29 oct. 1932; CE604-S11, 4 août 1853. Le Canada (Montréal), 13 févr. 1909. Gazette (Montreal), 16 June 1906. La Minerve, 27 oct. 1894. Le Monde illustré (Montréal), 15 oct. 1898. Monetary Times (Toronto), 11 May 1877, 31 May 1878, 25 July 1884. Le Moniteur du commerce (Montréal), 18 nov. 1887; 2, 9 nov. 1894; 15 nov. 1895. Montreal Star, 27 Oct. 1932. Le Nationaliste (Montréal), 29 avril, 13, 21 mai 1906. La Patrie, 16 déc. 1886, 26 oct. 1894, 1er mars 1895. La Presse, 27 oct. 1932. Le Prix courant (Montréal), 26 oct., 9 nov. 1894. Canadian men and women of the time (Morgan; 1898). Canadian who’s who, 1910. Directory, Montreal, 1878–86. Gazette Printing Co. v. Shallow (1909), Canada Supreme Court Reports (Ottawa), 41: 339–65. J. Hamelin et al., La presse québécoise, 3–4. Quebec Official Gazette, 1877: 1371, 1817; 1879: 79, 3850; 1892: 2360. Fernande Roy, Progrès, harmonie, liberté: le libéralisme des milieux d’affaires francophones de Montréal au tournant du siècle (Montréal, 1988). Yves Saint-Germain, “The genesis of the French-language business press and journalists in Quebec, 1871–1914” (phd thesis, Univ. of Del., Newark, 1975). [Télesphore Saint-Pierre], Histoire du commerce canadien-français de Montréal, 1535–1893 (Montréal, 1894). Shallow v. Gazette Printing Co. (1908), Rapports judiciaires de Québec: cour du banc du roi (Montréal), 17: 309–28.

General Bibliography

Cite This Article

Fernande Roy, “SHALLOW, FRANCIS-DOMINIC (baptized François-Dominique) (Francis D., Frank D., F. D.),” in Dictionary of Canadian Biography, vol. 16, University of Toronto/Université Laval, 2003–, accessed June 3, 2020, http://www.biographi.ca/en/bio/shallow_francis_dominic_16E.html.

The citation above shows the format for footnotes and endnotes according to the Chicago manual of style (16th edition). Information to be used in other citation formats:


Permalink:   http://www.biographi.ca/en/bio/shallow_francis_dominic_16E.html
Author of Article:   Fernande Roy
Title of Article:   SHALLOW, FRANCIS-DOMINIC (baptized François-Dominique) (Francis D., Frank D., F. D.)
Publication Name:   Dictionary of Canadian Biography, vol. 16
Publisher:   University of Toronto/Université Laval
Year of publication:   2020
Year of revision:   2020
Access Date:   June 3, 2020