A prolific writer of prose and poetry, Thomas McQueen (1803-61) was a skilled stonemason and agriculturalist and the editor and proprietor of a fiery local newspaper in Canada West, the Huron Signal.

Born 1803 in Kilbirnie, Ayrshire, Scotland, the former Chartist arrived in Canada in 1842 and settled near Pakenham in the Bathurst District, where he worked at his trade of stonemason. By this time he had already published three books of poems. Moving to Goderich in 1848, he became editor of the Huron Signal, whose motto was “The rights and interests of the people are the rights and interests of the Signal”. Whenever there was a Reform victory in Huron, the drawing of a resplendent crowing rooster was displayed on its front page.

When in May 1849 the Tories burned the Parliament buildings at Montreal, he wrote that Toryism has been the curse of the civilized world -- the meaning of it is to exalt and pamper a few individuals in luxuriant indolence at the expense of the sweat and toil and degradation of the great mass of industrious mankind”. He lashed out at the connection between war and illiteracy, between colonialism and the Church. He was a bitter opponent of child labour, the ruthless colonial rape of India, and the hypocrisy of the Christian church of the day which supported these evils.

He sought political office under the Reform banner in Huron County in 1854 but was defeated by a nephew of the notorious Family Compact chieftain Bishop John Strachan. The Huron Signal (now the Signal-Star) was first published on the Square (as shown) but later moved to North Street where it remained until it merged with the Goderich Star.

His poetry was inspired by Robert Burns. Margaret Fairley dubbed him the “Socialist Poet of Upper Canada”. Despite his early fame, he is unheralded, without a single marker in town or at his last home at “Signalfield”, a few miles south of Goderich.