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