John Lovell, printer and publisher, was born August 4, 1810 in Ireland. John Lovell’s family farmed near Bandon until 1820 when they immigrated to Lower Canada and took up a farm near Montreal. In 1823 he was apprenticed to the printer Edward Vernon Sparhawk, owner and editor of the Canadian Times and Weekly Literary and Political Recorder of Montreal. Lovell found employment at the Montreal Gazette from 1824 and then worked at Quebec. In 1832 he returned to Montreal where he became foreman in the printing office of L’Ami du peuple, de l’ordre et des lois. By 1836 he was in partnership with Donald McDonald, and that year they established a tory newspaper, the Montreal Daily Transcript, the first penny paper in Lower Canada. The firm of Lovell and McDonald did job, newspaper, and book printing. In April 1838 Lovell and McDonald dissolved their partnership, McDonald retaining the Montreal Daily Transcript while Lovell continued as a job printer. In 1844 he formed a partnership with his brother-in-law John Gibson. The business, located on Rue Saint-Nicolas, expanded. In 1843 Lovell had acquired a locally manufactured press. Four years later he imported the first steam-press into Lower Canada. In 1850 John Gibson passes away. In addition to publishing literary periodicals Lovell and Gibson printed or published an increasing number of titles on a broadening range of subjects.
In 1850, when the Province of Canada reorganized its printing arrangements, Lovell won a ten-year contract. The government’s practice of moving its seat between Montreal, Toronto, and Quebec obliged Lovell to establish offices in those places. By 1851 Lovell and Gibson, as the firm was still called despite Gibson’s death, had an establishment in Toronto, where Lovell had temporarily taken up residence to supervise the government contract. That year, 41 employees worked there, in addition to apprentices, and 30 maintained operations in Montreal. By 1853 he was operating a Quebec office, Lovell and Lamoureux, in partnership with Pierre Lamoureux. In 1866 Lovell’s Canadian operations had been employing 150 people and running 12 steam-presses. After 1872, although the Montreal office continued to print Lovell’s own publications and those of other publishers, the printing of best-sellers was done increasingly by the Lake Champlain Press at Rouses Point. It served as the starting-point for Lovell’s eldest son, John Wurtele. In 1876, with his father and Adam, he established Lovell, Adam and Company in New York to reprint British copyrights in inexpensive editions. They were soon joined by Francis L. Wesson, Lovell’s son-in-law and a son of the Massachusetts gun manufacturer; the firm then became Lovell, Adam, Wesson and Company. John Wurtele left the firm to establish his own house. In 1874 Lovell formed the Lovell Printing and Publishing Company. In 1884 Lovell Printing and Publishing Company had become John Lovell and Son. The following year fire destroyed the original frame office of 1842, and it was replaced by a stone building. Between 1888 and 1890 the firm embarked on a Canadian fiction series that eventually embraced 60 titles published in monthly instalments. By 1893, however, it was concentrating on textbooks. John Lovell died on 1 July 1893.