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Early Mount Allison Papers: The Eurhetorian Argosy (1872-1922)

A virtual exhibition that pays tribute to generations of student journalism on campus.

The Argosy (1872 - 2022)

The Eurhetorian Argosy

The Argosy was first published in 1872, making it one of the oldest student publications in Canada.

It was started by the Mount Allison Eurhetorian Society, a student organization that formed in September 1861 with the aim of promoting eloquence and sound literature amongst students at the Mount Allison Academy and University. Its Latin motto was Flores perennes carpimus which roughly translates to "the blossoms we glean never fade," an allusion to the work of the editors and the literary talents the society strived to build in its members.

The organization received its formal charter in 1866, and the charter members were: Joseph G. Angwin, Nehemiah Ayer, Sylvanus Clayton, C. Wesley Colter, Thaddeus Hodgson, Edward Hannington, William Perkin, William W. Percival, Howard Sprague, Alfred A. Stockton, Josiah Wood and Richard W. Woodworth.

The main focus of the Eurhetorian Society was its publication The Eurhetorian Argosy, the precursor to today's student-run publication, though their commitment to literary and oratory development extended to debate as well. The society's constitution recorded that

"Its object shall be, as specified in the act of its incorporation, literary culture, improvement in public speaking, social advancement, and the furnishing of an acquaintance with the rules of procedure and debate in deliberative assemblies." 

Until 1875, issues of The Argosy were handwritten and read at public meetings in Lingley Hall rather than being distributed in printed form. The content of The Argosy for many years took the form of essays unlike the news articles we know today, which lent itself well to public oration. 

The first issue of the Argosy was read by the first Editor-in-Chief, George J. Bond (Class of 1874), at a public meeting held on April 18, 1872. An unidentified newspaper clipping entitled "Eurhetorian" found in the archives notes that the first issue "abounded in articles satiric and seraphic, poetic and epigastric. It was newsy with locals, sparkling with wit, and was well received." [1]

In the following article from December 1892, Bond recounts how he contributed to the very first edition of The Argosy. He laments that the issue in front of him is missing its original binding ribbon, but sadly, the first edition itself is now lost, having likely been destroyed in the university residence fire of 1899. The excerpts he provides give us a rare glimpse into the original 1872 manuscript.

Click on the images to expand.

A unanimous vote at a Eurhetorian Society meeting held December 14,1874, determined that all subsequent issues of the Argosy should be in printed form. The first of these, The Eurhetorian Argosy, Vol. 1, No. 1, was released in January 1875. Starting in September 1876 with Vol. 3, No. 1, the name was simplified to The Argosy, the name that remains to this day. 

Membership into the Eurhetorian Society was originally limited to men [2], and women at the Mount Allison Ladies' College and University formed their own literary societies which published independently of The Argosy. The Mount Allison Ladies' Literary Society and its publication Panorama were first formed in 1858, three years before the Eurhetorian Society. This was soon followed by the Eclectic Society in 1874.

As time progressed, more women contributed to The Argosy. The first female editor of The Argosy was Harriott Scammell Olive (Class of 1894). Olive also served as President of the Eclectic Society and a founding member of the Alpha-Beta Society, and was the valedictorian of her class after taking a full honours course and maintaining the highest marks.

In 1914, members of the Eurhetorian and Eclectic societies decided to merge their two literary magazines, The Argosy and Allisonia, opting to keep the name of the former. They continued to publish on a monthly basis until 1922, when The Argosy became a weekly publication.

George Bond, first editor of The Argosy

Memorial University Archives & Special Collections. Sir Robert Bond collection, 12.02.06

Harriott S. Olive, first female editor of The Argosy

Mount Allison University Archives. Raymond Clare Archibald fonds, 5501/9/7/76


[1] Mount Allison University Archives. George J. Bond fonds, 8288/002

[2] Grace Annie Lockhart would eventually become the first female member of the Eurhetorian Society.