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Victoria County Federal Politics

By this same Act, Victoria County was divided into two ridings, South Victoria, consisting of the townships of Ops, Mariposa, Emily, and Verulam and the town of Lindsay, and North Victoria, consisting of all the townships lying to the north.

From 1867 to 1874 the Dominion government was dominated by the Liberal-Conservative party under the Rt. Hon. John A. Macdonald. Victoria county was, however, in the opposition for part of this time. In the election of 1867 John Morrison (Liberal) of Woodville defeated John Cameron (Conservative) of Toronto, in North Victoria; and in South Victoria George Kempt (Liberal) of Lindsay defeated Hector Cameron, Q. C., (Conservative) of Toronto.

The next election, in 1872, saw a complete turn over. In North Victoria Joseph Staples (Conservative) of Bexley defeated the former member, and in South Victoria George Dormer (Conservative), a Lindsay barrister, defeated John McLennan, a merchant of the same town.

In 1873 it was proven that the Canadian Pacific Railway, then recently incorporated, had made very large cash contributions to the Conservative election campaign funds. This disclosure wrecked the party for the time being. In the election which followed, a Liberal government under the Hon. Alexander Mackenzie was returned with a large majority. Victoria stayed Conservative ,.however. In the north riding Hector Cameron, Q. C., (Conservative) won out from James McLennan, Q. C. (Liberal), and in the south riding Arthur McQuade (Conservative) of Emily vanquished John McLennan (Liberal) of Lindsay.

Under the Mackenzie administration, voting by ballot was introduced in 1874, the Supreme Court of Canada was established in 1875, and the Scott Act was passed in 1878.

On September 17, 1878, the Conservatives under Macdonald were returned to power on the strength of their "National Policy" of high customs duties to protect home industries. In Victoria county the same members, Hector Cameron and Arthur McQuade, were returned, Their opponents were James McLennan and John Connolly respectively.

The Conservatives now remained in power until 1896. The opposition was led by the Hon. Edward Blake from 1880 to 1887, and from 1887 to 1896 by the Hon. Wilfrid Laurier.

In June 1882, Hector Cameron was again elected for North Victoria, with a majority of 290 over George Keith (Liberal); and John R. Dundas (Conservative) had a majority of 61 in South Victoria over William Needler.

The next election, in February 1887, saw a change. Cameron had been found guilty of boodling and had been denounced in the previous parliament by members of his own party. There was therefore little surprise when he was routed in North Victoria by John A. Barron of Lindsay. In South Victoria, Adam Hudspeth Q. C., (Conservative) of Lindsay won a majority of 47 over William Lownsbrough, a Mariposa farmer. Hudspeth was unseated, but was re-elected by a majority of 54.

March 5, 1891, was the next day of contest. On this occasion, John A. Barron (Liberal) had a majority of 244 over Sam Hughes (Conservative) in North Victoria and Charles W. Fairbairn (Conservative) received a majority of 14 over Thos. Walters (Liberal) in South Victoria. Both of the members elect were unseated. While Fairbairn, however, was re-elected by 228 majority, Barron lost to Hughes by a majority of 239.
Sir John A. Macdonald died in 1891, and the Conservative party ran into troubled waters under his successors, Abbot, Thompson and Tupper. Finally, in 1896, the Liberals under Sir Wilfrid Laurier swept the country .and set up an administration that was to last until 1911.

At this time George McHugh (Liberal) carried South Victoria with a majority of 62 over Dr. A. E. Vrooman (Conservative). In North Victoria, however, Sam Hughes (Conservative) was again elected with a majority of 251 over R. J. McLaughlin (Liberal).

The county turned entirely blue again in 1900. Dr. Vrooman was then elected with a majority of 216 over his old antagonist, George McHugh; and Sam Hughes appeared again for North Victoria, with a majority of 106 over Dr. John McKay of Woodville.

A Representation Act, passed in 1903, abolished the old political ridings and constituted a single new riding, consisting of all of Victoria and Haliburton. The member for the riding from that time down to the present has been Sir Sam Hughes. He has defeated R. J. McLaughlin, K.C., of Lindsay in 1904, Dr. Archibald Wilson of Fenelon Falls in 1908, James B. Begg of Lindsay in 1911, and George D. Isaac of Rosedale in 1917.

In 1911 a Conservative government under Sir Robert Borden came into power, and Sir Sam Hughes was made Minister of Militia and Defence. In 1917 a Coalition government was formed for the duration of the war in order to guarantee certain war measures. Since the close of the war, control has passed into the hands of the "National, Liberal, and Conservative Party" under the Rt. Hon. Arthur Meighen.

Victoria County Provincial Politics

The first provincial government was formed on coalition lines in 1867 by John Sandfield Macdonald. In the north riding of Victoria, A. P. Cockburn (Liberal), a Kirkfield lumberman, had defeated Joseph Staples (Conservative) of Bexley; and in South Victoria Thomas Matchett (Conservative) of Omemee had been elected by acclamation.

In 1871, the province was swept by a reorganized Liberal party, which held power from 1871 to 1905, and on the whole worthily. Under Sir Oliver Mowat, premier from 1873 to 1896, the government though strongly partisan, was thrifty and honest. Mowat won his greatest fame in vindicating provincial rights against the presumptions of the federal government, especially in the cases of the boundary between Ontario and Manitoba and of the, control of streams and crown lands.

The election of 1871 returned Duncan McRae (Conservative) of Bolsover for North Victoria and S. C. Wood (Liberal), then county clerk and treasurer, for South Victoria. Their defeated opponents were Dalton Ulyott, a Fenelon Falls lumberman, and Thomas Matchett, the late member, respectively.

In 1875 McRae first lost to J. D. Smith (Liberal) of Fenelon Falls. The latter withdrew on the filing of a petition, and McRae won out from Dr. Grant (Liberal) of Woodville. The south riding returned S. C. Wood (Liberal) over Wm. Cottingham (Conservative) of Omemee. In the following year, Wood was made Provincial Treasurer, and in the bye-election necessary to confirm this cabinet appointment defeated Adam Hudspeth, a Lindsay barrister.

The election of 1879 brought in S. S. Peck (Liberal) of Minden, stipendiary magistrate for Haliburton county, as member for North Victoria. His opponent was John Fell of Somerville township. In South Victoria the Hon. S .C. Wood maintained his position against W. L. Russell (Conservative) of Lindsay, then Warden of the county. Wood retired from political life in December 1882.

In 1883 John Fell (Conservative) defeated S. S. Peck in North Victoria, and D. J. McIntyre (Liberal) of Lindsay won from C. W. Fairbairn (Conservative) in South Victoria.

During the next session, McIntyre tried to make his position permanently certain by having the ridings gerrymandered into "East Victoria" and "West Victoria" and including in the latter the Liberal townships of Ops, Mariposa, Eldon, Carden, and Dalton. His scheme met with poetic justice in the election of 1886. The Liberal majority in Mariposa, for instance ,dropped from 400 to S, and worse things happened in the other townships. John Cruess (Conservative) was elected, and McIntyre withdrew permanently from political life. In East Victoria John Fell was returned with an increased majority. The ridings remained as reconstituted until 1915, when they again became North and South Victoria as of old. The blow to Liberal prestige was permanent, for during the 35 years since the gerrymander only one Liberal has been elected by this county to the provincial house.

In June 1890 John Fell (Conservative) was sustained in East Victoria, but John Cruess was vanquished by Dr. John McKay (Liberal) of Woodville.

In 1894 the Patrons of Industry, a farmers political organization, placed John Campbell in the field in West Victoria (where Dr. McKay was running for the Liberals and Robert Bryans for the Conservatives) and William Thurston in the field in East Victoria against J. H. Carnegie (Conservative). In West Victoria, Campbell lost his deposit and McKay had a majority of 470 over Bryans. East Victoria gave Carnegie a majority of 273 over Thurston. In the province as a whole the Patrons of Industry elected 11 members out of a total of 93. The movement suffered from its leaders' refusal to broaden out and came to an abrupt end.

Samuel J. Fox (Conservative) of Ops defeated Dr. McKay in West Victoria in 1898 and held his own against Newton. Smale in 1902 and against Thomas Stewart in 1905. John H. Carnegie (Conservative) had like success in East Victoria, his adversaries being John Austin in 1898, L. F. Heyd in 1902, and John Austin again in 1905.

Meanwhile, under Mowat's successors, "the barnacles that always attach to a party long in power became unpleasantly conspicuous," and in January 1905 the Conservatives under James P. Whitney came into power with a majority of forty members. After the death of Whitney, the Hon. Wm. H. Hearst became party leader in 1915.

In the election of 1908, Samuel Fox (Conservative) won from Thomas Stewart of Lindsay by 98 votes in West Victoria, and in East Victoria J. H. Carnegie was elected by acclamation. Before the next election Carnegie had retired from politics and Fox had died (July 3, 1911).

Dr. A. E. Vrooman (Conservative) carried West Victoria in 1911 with a majority of 104 over C. E. Weeks (Liberal). Dr. R. M. Mason (Conservative) of Fenelon Falls was returned by acclamation for East Victoria.

In 1915 the ridings once more became North Victoria and South Victoria. Dr. R. M. Mason (Conservative) vanquished Thomas Hodgson (Liberal) by 465 votes in the former constituency; while John Carew (Conservative) won out from A. M. Fulton (Liberal) in the latter by a majority of 545.

In October 1919, a new agrarian party, the United Farmers of Ontario, assumed control of Ontario politics. In South Victoria Frederick G. Sandy (U.F.O.) had a majority of 1349 over Dr. John W. Wood (Conservative) and in North Victoria the Rev. Edgar Watson (U.F.O.) of Fenelon Falls defeated Dr. Mason (Conservative), the late member, by 918 votes.

Senators From Victoria

In the Dominion Senate formed at Confederation Victoria county was represented by the Hon. John Simpson, father of Dr. J. Simpson of Lindsay. Senator Simpson had previously been elected twice to the Legislative Council of Canada from Newcastle District and when the Senate was constituted in 1867 he was appointed as one of its charter members. He died soon afterwards, however, and Victoria was without representation in the Upper House until February 1892 when John Dobson of Lindsay was appointed. George McHugh of Lindsay joined him in the Senate in 1901. Senator Dobson died in 1907, but Senator McHugh is still active.

Century of Politics

Victoria County


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