William James Herder
As the founder of Newfoundland’s first daily newspaper, William James Herder became a household name and established a tradition of journalistic excellence that lasts to this day. The son of John and Sara Herder, W.J. Herder was born at Old Perlican, Trinity Bay on October 6, 1849. When his father was killed in a hunting accident in 1852, W.J. Herder and his mother moved to St. John’s where the younger Herder attended Mr. Scott’s School. At age 14, Mr. Herder began an apprenticeship with the weekly newspaper, the Courier, and had the ambition to start a daily newspaper of his own. Herder purchased his old training ground and the first Evening Telegram was published from the Courier’s plant on April 3, 1879 with a total circulation of less than 500 copies.
While the Telegram has survived and thrived in Newfoundland and Labrador, Herder faced a number of challenges – the plant was lost in the Great Fire of 1892, and only the backing of Charles Robert Ayre enabled Herder to get a loan and resume business. An avid fisherman, Mr. Herder was also keenly interested in all other sports. All seven of his sons were prominent hockey players, so it should come as no surprise that in 1935 the Evening Telegram Limited donated the Herder Memorial Trophy, the prized cup of senior hockey in this province. W.J. Herder died in St. John’s on May 28, 1922, having spent sixty years in the newspaper business.