The Montreal Standard was a Saturday English-language newspaper based in Montreal. Gallant worked for the paper for six years, contributing over 200 articles between 1944-1950. It is likely she contributed many more that remained unsigned.
Although women had been involved in journalism since the late nineteenth-century and the golden age of newspapers, gender still determined the kinds of jobs they had and they kind of pay they received. In her interviews about her journalism Gallant often spoke of her exceptionalism, but noted that she could only go so far as a woman:
I received half the salary paid to men and I had to hear, frequently and not only from men, that I had “a good job, for a girl.” – qtd. in Biron 22.
Gallant’s articles ranged widely in topic and quality, from hackwork to cultural reviews to socially-minded journalism. As Charlotte Biron discusses, her journalism was significant for its focus on immigration in the wake of the Second World War and on French Canadian culture. Also of special note are the in-depth interviews she conducted for her articles, which captured the voices and perspectives of the time and became fodder for her later writing. That she found such work compelling comes across in her interviews, where she explained:
I loved getting out and running around, not sitting around on my bum worrying about other people’s work. – qtd. in Evain et Bertail, 2008: 101.
Gallant’s career as a journalist can be pieced together by reading interviews, particularly her interview with Marta Dvorak. Biron has also recently undertaken a study of her career as a journalist, comparing it to that of the French Canadian author Gabrielle Roy (whose fiction Gallant incidentally reviewed), and including a comprehensive bibliography of her articles.
We are the first to collect and annotate Gallant’s journalism so that readers can encounter it for themselves, however. Having transcribed over 18,000 words, across 9 different articles, we are able to give readers an understanding of her journalistic range and traits. Now that the articles are available in digital form, we also gain new insights from the data. This Tableau Public visualization, News by Numbers, shows that her news articles were around 2,000 words in length — thus indicating their significant substance, and also their importance as an archive, not only for her, as she developed as a writer, but also for later researchers of Gallant and of the turbulent post-WWII period she captured in the Saturday press.
– Biron, Charlotte. Mavis Gallant et Gabrielle Roy, journalists. Québec, Codicille éditeur, 2016.
– Dvorak, Marta. “When Language is a Delicate Timepiece: Mavis Gallant in conversation with Marta Dvorak.” The Journal of Commonwealth Literature, Vol 44, Issue 3, 2009, pp. 3 – 22.