The Gazette van Detroit
Started by Camille Cools in 1914 as a weekly in the Flemish language, the Gazette van Detroit is the last remaining newspaper of the Belgians in North America. The Gazette van Moline (1907-1940) was the first one, and Cools, an immigrant from Moorslede, was its Detroit correspondent. The Gazette van Detroit contained news from Belgium (especially important during the Great War) and reported on the activities of local organizations, social events, and sports from pigeon flying to archery and bicycle races.
At Cools' death in 1916, Frank Cobbaert from Aalst became editor and publisher. A second weekly, De Detroitenaar, appeared on the scene but soon merged with the Gazette, which moved to larger quarters on Mack Avenue. By 1920, most of the stock was acquired by Peter Corteville and his brother-in-law Leo Leplae. Frank Cobbaert stayed on as editor until 1922 when he was succeeded by Hortense Leplae.
With Hortense as editor, the Gazette grew into a prosperous full-size 8-page weekly with more than 20 correspondents in the US, Canada and South America. On May 15, 1959, the Gazette welcomed the late King Baudouin during his visit to Detroit with a special issue. When Peter Corteville died in 1966, his son Richard had already taken over as manager of the printing press and publisher of the Gazette, while Godelieve Van Reybrouck, a recent immigrant, had succeeded Mrs. Leplae as editor in 1954.
Richard Corteville’s death in 1974 marked the beginning of a difficult period for the Gazette. For a few months the Gazette was not published, causing complaints from faithful subscribers, until a non-profit organization, led by René de Seranno, was formed in December 1974: The Belgian Publishing Company. Leon Buyse was the new editor.
In 1977, the headquarters and archives moved to the Fr. Taillieu Residence (now American House East II) in Roseville, where the paper was (and is) edited and from there sent to a printing firm for the final process. The Gazette became biweekly. Articles in English were added to attract the younger generation, many of whom no longer knew their parents’ language. In 1979, The Gazette received the Visser-Neerlandia Award for its efforts to keep the ties with the homeland alive.
In recent years the paper had been struggling due to the deaths of the original investors and some members of the editorial team, as well as the transfer of its editor, Fr. Charles Denys, to Virginia. Fortunately, Martha Vandenbergh (Editor), Margaret Roets (Business Manager), and Ludwig Vandenbussche, agent and correspondent in Belgium, managed to attract a new team of young Belgian expatriates in the Detroit area (including former editor-in-chief Elisabeth Khan-Van den Hove), as well as generate some media attention and goodwill in Belgium itself.
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