William Howard Hearst
The Hon. Sir William Hearst
|7th Premier of Ontario|
October 2, 1914 – November 14, 1919
|Lieutenant Governor||John Strathearn Hendrie|
|Preceded by||James Whitney|
|Succeeded by||Ernest Charles Drury|
|MPP for Sault Ste. Marie|
June 8, 1908 – September 23, 1919
|Preceded by||Charles Napier Smith|
|Succeeded by||James Cunningham|
|Born||February 15, 1864|
Arran Township, Canada West
|Died||September 29, 1941 (aged 77)|
Toronto, Ontario, Canada
|Resting place||Mount Pleasant Cemetery, Toronto|
|Political party||Ontario PC Party|
|Spouse(s)||Isabella Jane Duncan|
Hearst was born in Bruce County, Ontario. He practiced law in Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario before being voted to provincial parliament as a member of the Progressive Conservative Party of Ontario. After six years representing Sault Ste. Marie in provincial government, Hearst became Premier of Ontario following the death of Premier James P. Whitney in 1914.
Hearst's was the first Conservative provincial government to enact women's suffrage. He was in favour of the prohibition movement, and restricted the unlicensed sale of alcohol in Ontario. As a wartime administration, his government improved munitions production and hydroelectric infrastructure.
Sir William Howard Hearst was born in the Township of Arran in Bruce County, Ontario. He studied law at Osgoode Hall, Toronto, and became a lawyer in 1888. Hearst moved to Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario, where he opened up a law firm called Hearst, McKay and Darling in the Ganley Block at 604 Queen Street. Hearst participated actively in the Sault Ste. Marie community and he was on the building committee to erect a new Methodist church at the corner of Spring Street and Albert Street in Sault Ste. Marie. The Methodist church that was eventually built still stands and is now known as Central United Church. He was an unsuccessful candidate in the Algoma East riding in 1894. In 1902 he organized support in Northern Ontario for James P. Whitney. Hearst was also appointed Sault Ste. Marie's volunteer fire chief from 1891 to 1892. Hearst built a house at the corner of Queen Street and Upton Road, known as "Eastbourne", which would go on to become a designated heritage property in the City of Sault Ste. Marie.
In 1908 Hearst was elected member for the riding of Sault Ste. Marie. He became Minister of Lands, Forests and Mines in 1911. On the death of James P. Whitney in 1914, Hearst became his successor and was sworn in as Premier on October 2, 1914. Hearst was the first Premier from Northern Ontario.
Premier of Ontario
Under his administration a comprehensive measure to provide compensation to workers for injuries was put into operation. He took steps to deal with housing problems and provide loans to settlers. Municipal acts were passed. School fairs and the teaching of agriculture were inaugurated. Measures were taken to increase war production. Reforestation and fire prevention services were established. The Orpington Hospital in England was built as a gift from the people of Ontario.
An increase in demand for electricity in Ontario lead the Hearst government to commission the construction of the Queenston-Chippawa hydroelectric generating station in 1917. At the time, this was one of the largest hydroelectric projects in the world.
Hearst supported conscription and the federal Unionist government. In March 1918, he and Ontario Liberal leader William Proudfoot agreed to extend the existing provincial government until Canadian forces returned home in 1919.
The Hearst government struggled to find consensus on the question of prohibition. Hearst personally identified with the temperance movement, however barkeepers and alcohol producers formed part of the voter base of the Ontario Conservatives. Hearst established the Board of License Commissioners (BLC) in 1915, which distributed licenses for businesses seeking to sell alcohol. In 1916, the Ontario Temperance Act (OTA) was introduced as a temporary wartime measure by Hearst, a temperance advocate and pillar of the Methodist church. It made possession of liquor and beer outside one's home illegal. Although one could retain a 'cellar supply' for personal consumption, it was illegal to sell a drink. As a result, the government shut down bars, taverns, clubs and liquor stores. The establishment of the BLC and the OTA were controversial among anti-temperance Canadians.
In 1919, after Canadian soldiers had returned from Europe, Hearst called a plebiscite on prohibition. The plebiscite was held the same day as the 1919 general election. While prohibition was approved by the voters, his government was defeated in the election and nothing came from the vote.
Beginning in 1915, Liberal representatives proposed bills enabling women to vote in Ontario. Hearst initially opposed suffrage, but by 1917 he had changed his opinion on the subject. Ontario was the fifth province to pass legislation permitting women to vote, and Hearst's government was the first Conservative provincial government to do so.
1919 General Election
In the election of 1919, Hearst was surprised by his loss to the United Farmers of Ontario. Historians have varying opinions on the reason for the result of the election, including federal conscription, the OTA, and poor opinion among industrial workers and the rural population.
After his political loss in 1919, Hearst returned to his firm in Sault Ste. Marie.
Sault Ste. Marie
William Howard Hearst was the first premier from northern Ontario. He has an enduring legacy in Sault Ste. Marie. A street in the northern city has been named after him. A city streets directory from 1914 shows the street was previously called "Hurst Street", but by 1915, the year after Hearst became Premier of Ontario, the name was changed to "Hearst Street".
In July 2015, the city recognized Hearst by naming the holiday on the first Monday in August (previously known as Civic Holiday) as Sir William H. Hearst Day.
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- Middleton, Jesse Edgar (1923). The Municipality of Toronto - A History. III. Toronto: Dominion Publishing. p. 67. OCLC 9709767.
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- Dubro, James; Rowland, Robin F. (1987). King of the Mob: Rocco Perri and the women who ran his rackets. Toronto: Penguin Books. ISBN 0-14-009823-2.
- Rocco Perri Scrapbook (Hamilton Herald Newspaper articles) 12 April 1927, 14, 16, 18 August 1930
- Tennyson, Brian Douglas. “Mackenzie King and Patronage in the Public Service: An Historical Footnote.” Journal of Canadian Studies 6:1 (February 1971): 56-60.
- Tennyson, Brian Douglas. “Premier Hearst, the War, and Votes for Women.” Ontario History 57:3 (September 1965): 115-21.
- Tennyson, Brian Douglas. “Sir Adam Beck and the Ontario General Election of 1919.” Ontario History 58:3 (September 1966): 157-62.
- Tennyson, Brian Douglas. “Sir William Hearst and the Ontario Temperance Act.” Ontario History 55:4 (December 1963): 233-46.
- Tennyson, Brian Douglas. “The Cruise of the Minnie M.” Ontario History 59:2 (June 1967): 125-28.
- Tennyson, Brian Douglas. “The Ontario General Election of 1919: The Beginnings of Agrarian Revolt.’ Journal of Canadian Studies 4:1 (February 1969): 26-36.
- Tennyson, Brian Douglas. “The Succession of William H Hearst to the Ontario Premier-ship—September 1914.” Ontario History 56:3 (September 1964): 158-89.
- Ontario Legislative Assembly parliamentary history
- Ontario Plaque for Hearst in Tara, Ontario
- William H. Hearst fonds, Archives of Ontario
|Non-profit organization positions|
C. H. Mitchell
| President of the Empire Club of Canada
Elias H. Wilkinson