Ernest Charles Drury
|8th Premier of Ontario|
November 14, 1919 – July 16, 1923
|Lieutenant Governor||John Strathearn Hendrie|
Lionel Herbert Clarke
|Preceded by||William Hearst|
|Succeeded by||George Howard Ferguson|
February 16, 1920 – May 10, 1923
|Preceded by||John Featherstone Ford|
|Succeeded by||George Hillmer|
|Born||January 22, 1878|
Crown Hill, Ontario
|Died|| February 17, 1968 (aged 90) |
|Resting place||Holy Cross St. Nektarios Greek Orthodox Church (formerly St. James Anglican Church), Springwater, Ontario|
|Political party||United Farmers of Ontario|
|Alma mater||Ontario Agricultural College|
Ernest Charles Drury (January 22, 1878 – February 17, 1968) was a farmer, politician and writer who served as the eighth Premier of Ontario, Canada, from 1919 to 1923 as the head of a United Farmers of Ontario–Labour coalition government.
His father, Charles Alfred Drury, continued the family farm and was a forward-looking farmer, who used new techniques and technologies. In 1882, he was president of the Agricultural and Arts Association of Ontario. He also served as reeve of Oro Township, in Simcoe County, for 13 years and was elected to the Ontario Legislature as an Ontario Liberal Party member. He served from 1882 to 1890, the last two years as Ontario's first Minister of Agriculture.
Premier of Ontario
Drury was a co-founder of the UFO in 1913 but did not run in the 1919 election, which returned farmer candidates as the largest bloc in the provincial legislature. Not having a leader, the UFO Members of the Legislative Assembly (MLAs) asked Drury to lead them. The UFOs 49 MLAs joined with 11 Labour members to form a coalition government. It was the first of a wave of United Farmers governments that took power in several provinces and that founded the Progressive Party of Canada. Drury was the first premier of Ontario to have been born in the province after confederation.
Drury was elected to the Legislative Assembly in Halton in 1920, after John Featherstone Ford, the sitting UFO MLA, had stepped aside.
The Drury government had a significant impact on the Province:
- It introduced allowances for widows and children, a minimum wage for women, a mandatory weekly day of rest, broadened workmen's compensation benefits improved the support mechanisms for parents and children born out of wedlock, and standardized adoption procedures.
- Ontario Hydro saw greater expansion in the field of rural electrification and in 1921, Hydro acquired the Toronto Electric Light Company, together with various railway interests, thus making it the largest electric power system in the world.
- The Province of Ontario Savings Office was created, effectively a provincially-owned bank that was designed to lend money to farmers at a lower rate.
- It began the first major reforestation program in North America, and initiated construction of the modern highway system.
- Drury also arranged for a grant to Frederick Banting and Charles Best, at that time relatively unknown researchers, as a result of their discovery of insulin.
The government was also a strict enforcer of temperance measures, amidst mixed publicity. The newly-elected Labour MLA George Grant Halcrow was immediately convicted of violating the Ontario Temperance Act, which prevented him from receiving an expected appointment to the Cabinet. He became House Leader for the Labour Party but found himself at odds with Attorney-General William Raney over temperance by admitting, "I was and out-and-out wet in the Legislature."
When police and liquor officials were authorized to search automobiles and private yachts for illegal liquor, The Toronto Telegram observed that the only means of transportation where citizens could be free from search were "balloons and submarines". Another Act was passed which effectively prevented any movement of liquor within the Province, but it was later held not to prohibit exports to the United States.
In 1920, Reverend J. O. L. Spracklin, a Provincial Temperance enforcer, shot and killed an illicit liquor trader. The pastor, a strongly zealous and articulate personality, was acquitted of manslaughter, but the resultant publicity, generally linked with a major professed aim of Drury's administration, served to call the aim of rigorous temperance enforcement into question in the minds of many Ontarians.
Dougall Carmichael, appointed as Minister without Portfolio, was given the responsibility of being the government representative on the Hydro-Electric Power Commission of Ontario, and specifically with keeping its chairman Adam Beck in line. At one point in 1922, Carmichael announced to the Legislature that he was quitting his position as Commissioner because Hydro "was either inefficient or dishonest". He was forced to retract the allegation of dishonesty, and continued to be a Commissioner until the following year.
In 1920, responding to a campaign to have Hydro's rates made uniform, a Legislature committee headed by John G. Lethbridge proposed a levy of $2 per 1 horsepower (0.75 kW) on all electricity generated in the province in order to subsidize up to 80% of construction costs on rural transmission lines (whenever there was an average of three customers per mile of line). Beck rejected the idea of a levy, but put forward his own plan (which generated great controversy). An Act that favoured Beck's view, through subsidizing up to 50% of construction costs in the rural power zone, was passed in 1921, which effectively tightened Hydro's control over public distributors and denied payments to private electricity producers.
Hydro's plans for the promotion of interurban railways were significantly scaled back after the Sutherland Commission's report on the subject recommended it in 1921, and its affairs in general were the subject of the Gregory Commission appointed in 1922.
By battling with Beck and his plans for expansion of the province's hydro-electric system, Drury also alienated industrialists and many workers.
The Drury government investigated the administration of forest concessions granted under the previous Hearst administration, which had been directed by its minister Howard Ferguson, and passed an Act to provide for corrective measures with regard to permits that had been improperly issued.
A particular issue with Ferguson's previous actions was that he had sold timber limits to the Shevlin-Clarke Lumber Company (headed by fellow Conservative James Arthur Mathieu) for less than half the price they would have normally fetched, and the company later paid a fine of $1.5 million for breaching the Crown Timber Act. This transaction, as well as others, were criticized in a subsequent inquiry by the Latchford-Riddell Commission, which reported:
We are of the opinion that no officer, Minister or otherwise, should have the power to grant rights over large areas of the public domain at will without regard to Regulation; that power was never contemplated by the statutes; it does not at present exist, and should not be given to any individual. Such an arbitrary power subject to no control is obviously open to abuse.
Despite the amount of evidence gathered about the improper administration of forest lands (including Ferguson's self-professed arrogance in the matter) and the recommendations given as to how it should be improved, the industry and Ferguson launched a vigorous attack against the United Farmers. Ferguson described the Commission as "claptrap political conspiracy", accused Drury and Raney of "political knavery", and the UFO as "intellectual and political freaks who were projected into prominence by accident and who grew out of garbage". This scuttled any attempts at reform and helped to contribute to their later downfall.
Many labour leaders distrusted a government dominated by farmers, feeling that they could not understand the problems of urban workers. Drury's failure to establish fair wage provisions in government contracts and his commitment to free trade that threatened the livelihood of industrial workers alienated urban workers further.
The government was opposed by all the major newspapers in the province, with the exception of the Toronto Star, and, despite its attempt to broaden its base, was opposed by business.
Fall from power
The government under Drury tried to be a "people's government" rather than a "class government", but in so doing, alienated the base of its support, particularly farmers. In a series of erratic events, the UFO government clashed with the uncooperative UFO organization (led by James J. Morrison throughout Drury's term) which ultimately withdrew its support.
The Drury government collapsed after it introduced bills in the Legislature that would have brought in proportional representation and a preferential ballot and Drury called an early election. The government was defeated when it ran for re-election in the 1923 provincial election, in part, due to false claims that Drury had used $100 to purchase a new coal scuttle for his personal use. In fact, the device was an old scuttle which had been retrieved from storage and polished up. Drury never responded to the false claim, however, and it contributed to opposition claims of the government's extravagance.
Drury was active with the Progressive Party of Canada following the demise of his provincial government. He ran as a Progressive candidate in Simcoe North in the 1925 Canadian federal election, 1926 and 1930 federal elections but was defeated by Conservative candidates by margins of 600, 200 and 800 votes respectively.
In 1934, he was appointed sheriff and registrar of Simcoe County, a position which he held until 1959. A portrait of Drury is still displayed prominently at the local courthouse in Barrie.
Drury remained interested in political matters. During the debate on whether or not Canada should install American-operated nuclear-tipped Bomarc missiles in the 1960s, Drury wrote "the next government of Canada... should refuse to accept nuclear arms. The whole nuclear program of the United States is dangerous."
There was a secondary school, E. C. Drury High School, which was closed and replaced by Craig Kielburger Secondary School in 2012. The provincial E. C. Drury School for the Deaf is still in operation in Milton, Ontario.
- James J. Morrison#Collapse of Drury government
- William Raney#Close involvement with Ontario Temperance Act
- J. O. L. Spracklin#Prohibition controversies and events of 1920
- "E.C. Drury was his father's son", Barrie Advance, June 30, 2008 Archived July 20, 2012, at archive.today
- "Charles Alfred Drury, MPP". ontla.on.ca. Legislative Assembly of Ontario. Archived from the original on February 5, 2012. Retrieved December 17, 2015.
- An Act respecting the Department of Agriculture and other Industries, S.O. 1888, c. 8
- The Mother's Allowances Act, S.O. 1920, c. 89
- The Minimum Wage Act, S.O. 1920, c. 87
- The One Day's Rest in Seven Act, 1922, S.O. 1922, c. 93
- The Workmen's Compensation Act, 1920, S.O. 1920, c. 43
- The Parents Maintenance Act, 1921, S.O. 1921, c. 52
- The Legitimation Act, 1921, S.O. 1921, c. 53 and The Children of Unmarried Parents Act, 1921, S.O. 1921, c. 54
- The Adoption Act, 1921, S.O. 1921, c. 55
- The Rural Hydro-Electric Distribution Act, 1921, S.O. 1921, c. 21
- sanctioned by An Act respecting the Filing of Claims against Certain Companies or their Properties, S.O. 1922, c. 33 , The County of York Radial Railway Act, 1922, S.O. 1922, c. 34 and The Toronto Suburban Railway Company Act, 1922, S.O. 1922, c. 35
- "ONTARIO ACQUIRES ELECTRIC INTERESTS; Province Takes Over Mackenzie Concerns, Valued at More Than $32,000,000. RAIL AND POWER PLANTS. All Electrical Development Now Passes to Public Ownership Under Hydro Board" (PDF). The New York Times. December 5, 1920. Retrieved August 16, 2013.
- The Agricultural Development Finance Act, 1921, S.O. 1921, c. 31
- White, Randall (1995). "The Province of Ontario Savings Office, 1922–1990: A Case Study in the Complexities of Ontario Political Culture". Ontario History. Ontario Historical Society. 87 (1): 21–44.
- The Reforestation Act, 1921, S.O. 1921, c. 19
- The Highway Improvement Act, 1920, S.O. 1920, c. 20
- The Banting and Best Medical Research Act, 1923, S.O. 1923, c. 56
- Claude William Hunt (1995). Whisky and Ice: The Saga of Ben Kerr, Canada's Most Daring Rumrunner. Toronto: Dundurn Press. pp. 59–60. ISBN 1-55002-249-0.
- The Liquor Transportation Act, 1920, S.O. 1920, c. 80
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- Fleming 1992, pp. 74–76.
- Reports of Commission appointed to inquire into hydro-electric railways. Toronto: King's Printer. 1921.
- General report of the Hydro-Electric Inquiry Commission. I. Toronto: King's Printer. 1924.
- The Timber Cutting Privileges Act, 1922, S.O. 1922, c. 19
- Nelles 2005, p. 386.
- "Mixed Division on Timber Bill in Legislature". Ottawa Citizen. March 27, 1922. p. 2., discussing the adoption of The Shevlin-Clarke Timber License Act, 1922, S.O. 1922, c. 20
- Riddell, William Renwick; Latchford, Francis Robert (1922). "Report of the Timber Commission". archive.org. Toronto: King's Printer.
- "Lumber Company is Charged with Fraud". Toronto World. November 2, 1920. p. 5.
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- Nelles 2005, p. 394.
- "Bill 178, 4th Session, 15th Legislature: The Proportional Representation Act, 1923". archive.org. April 12, 1923.
- "Bill 179, 4th Session, 15th Legislature: The Ontario Election (Transferable Vote) Act, 1923". archive.org. April 12, 1923.
- "Free-trader, writer and farmer, former Premier E.C. Drury dies" Globe and Mail, February 19, 1968
- Library of Parliament, SIMCOE NORTH, Ontario (1867 - ) election results, History of Federal Ridings since 1867, accessed February 14, 2008
- "Oro-Medonte's Drury family rooted in both local, provincial history". BarrieToday.com. Retrieved 2020-04-05.
- "Canadian Peace Congress leaflet". March 1963. Archived from the original on 2016-03-03.
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- Johnston, Charles M. (1986). E. C. Drury: Agrarian Idealist. Ontario Historical Studies. Toronto: University of Toronto Press. ISBN 0-8020-3432-2.
- — (1955). The Story of Simcoe County: Land of Holiday and History. Simcoe County.
- — (1959). All for a Beaver Hat: A History of Early Simcoe County. Toronto: Ryerson Press.
- — (1966). Farmer Premier; Memoirs of the Honourable E. C. Drury. Toronto: McClelland and Stewart.
- Fleming, Keith R. (1992). Power at Cost: Ontario Hydro and Rural Electrification, 1911–1958. McGill-Queen's University Press. ISBN 0-7735-0868-6.
- Gillis, R. Peter; Roach, Thomas R. (1986). Lost Initiatives: Canada's Forest Industries, Forest Policy, and Forest Conservation. Westport: Greenwood Press. p. 103. ISBN 0-313-25415-X. ISSN 0084-9235.
- Nelles, H.V. (2005). Politics of Development: Forests, Mines, and Hydro-Electric Power in Ontario, 1849–1941 (2nd ed.). McGill-Queen's University Press. ISBN 0-7735-2758-3.
- Ernest Charles Drury – Ontario Legislative Assembly parliamentary history (archive)
- "Plaque: Honourable Ernest Charles Drury". Ontario Heritage Foundation. Archived from the original on 2007-09-27.
- "Ernest Charles Drury". www.uoguelph.ca. Ontario Agricultural College.
- "Ernest Charles Drury". The Canadian Encyclopedia.
- E.C. Drury fonds, Archives of Ontario
|Party political offices|
| Leader of the United Farmers of Ontario