Our History

James Dawson

The Pictou Bee Press was established in 2022 to honour the early accomplishments of James Dawson (1789-1862). A Scottish immigrant and entrepreneur, Dawson came to Pictou, Nova Scotia, in 1811. He is best known as the father of the eminent geologist, Sir John William Dawson; however, he also played a significant role in the history of publishing in Canada.

From 1835 to 1838, Dawson published The Bee newspaper in Pictou. There he operated the first bookstore in Nova Scotia outside of Halifax, selling stationery, school texts, religious tracts, periodicals, sheet music, writing implements, art supplies, backgammon boards, and Gaelic books. Dawson also has the distinction of having published in 1836 the first Gaelic book written and printed in North America.

Sir John William Dawson

The Old Dawson House, which served as the site of Dawson’s home, bookstore, and press, stood at the corner of Church and Constitution Streets. This rambling old clapboard frame structure was demolished in the 1940s.