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Ontario Votes 2003
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Main > Features > Premiers on Parade
Election Day: Oct. 2, 2003   

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Premiers on Parade
by Barry Brimbecom

PREMIERE PREMIER
John Sandfield Macdonald John Sandfield Macdonald (Coalition), 1867-71: Ontario's first premier was appointed by Canada's first prime minister, Sir John A. Macdonald. Set up province's first registration facilities for births, marriages and deaths.

IRISH AYES ARE SMILING
Edward Blake Edward Blake (Liberal), 1871-72: After his year as premier, Blake would serve as federal justice minister and leader of the federal Liberal party. He left Canada and later sat in the British House of Commons as an Irish nationalist.

CHRONIC OVERACHIEVER
Sir Oliver Mowat Sir Oliver Mowat (Liberal), 1872-96: Longest serving premier in Ontario history. Appointed to the Senate in 1896, from where he also served as the federal minister of justice.

THE LOGROLLER
Arthur S. Hardy Arthur S. Hardy (Liberal), 1896-99: By prohibiting the export of logs that had been cut on Crown land, he forced American companies to process their lumber in Ontario.

HELD THE REINS AND THE PURSE STRINGS, TOO
George William Ross George William Ross (Liberal), 1899 -1905: Served simultaneously as premier and treasurer. Known as a strong advocate of abstinence.

HYDRO MAN
Sir James P. Whitney Sir James P. Whitney, (Conservative), 1905-1914: Created the Hydro-Electric Power Commission of Ontario and the Workmen's Compensation Act. Died in office shortly after winning the 1914 election.

LADIES' MAN
Sir William H. Hearst Sir William H. Hearst, Premier of Ontario 1914-1919: Granted Ontario women the right to vote provincially in 1917. Banned the retail sale of alcoholic beverages.

ALLEMAND LEFT
Ernest C. Drury Ernest C. Drury (United Farmers of Ontario), 1919-23: One of just two premiers named to the Ontario Agricultural Hall of Fame.

TRIPLES ALL ROUND!
G. Howard Ferguson G. Howard Ferguson (Conservative), 1923-30: Founder of the Liquor Control Board of Ontario.

THE HIGHWAYMAN
George S. Henry George S. Henry (Conservative), 1930-34: Built the province's first system of highways.

THE YOUNG FELLA
Mitchell F. Hepburn Mitchell F. Hepburn (Liberal), 1934-42: Ontario's youngest premier took office at age 38.

THE REPLACEMENT
Gordon Daniel Conant Gordon Daniel Conant (Liberal), 1942-43: When Hepburn stepped down he chose Conant to keep the premier's seat warm until a leader could be elected.

RUNS IN THE FAMILY
Harry Nixon Harry Nixon (Liberal) 1943: Son Bob Nixon became Ontario Liberal leader and, later, the province's treasurer; granddaughter Jane Stewart is a federal cabinet minister.

MAKE YOURSELF COMFORTABLE
George Drew George Drew (Conservative), 1943-1948: His election victory in 1943 marked the beginning of 42 successive years of Tory rule in Ontario.

ALLEMAND RIGHT
Thomas L. Kennedy Thomas L. Kennedy (Conservative) 1948-49: The other premier in the Ontario Agricultural Hall of Fame, Kennedy took over as interim premier when Drew resigned to lead the national Progressive Conservative Party.

HEALTH MATTERS
Leslie M. Frost Leslie M. Frost (Conservative), 1949-61: Creator of the Ontario Hospital Insurance Program (OHIP).

THE THINKING-MAN'S PREMIER
John P. Robarts John P. Robarts (Conservative), 1961-71: Built the Ontario Science Centre and York University.

RELIGIOUS ABOUT EDUCATION
William G. Davis William G. Davis (Conservative), 1971-85: Extended full funding to Catholic high schools.

DON'T BLINK OR YOU'LL MISS HIM
Frank Miller Frank Miller (Conservative), 1985: Toppled instantly by a non-confidence vote after a minority win in the general election. Defeat ended 42 consecutive years of Tory rule.

ADDICTED TO ELECTIONS
David Peterson David Peterson (Liberal), 1985-1990: Dumped by voters when he went to the polls just three years into a five-year mandate.

THE LONELY GUY
Bob Rae Bob Rae (New Democratic Party), 1990-95: First NDP premier in Ontario history.

THE TAXMAN CUTTETH
Mike Harris Mike Harris (Conservative), 1995-2002: Elected twice on promises to slash bloated bureaucracy, reduce taxes and put welfare recipients to work.

HAIR APPARENT
Ernie Eves Ernie Eves (Conservative), 2002 - : Harris finance minister best known for balanced budgets and slick coiffure became premier after mentor retired to the golf course.

Illustrations courtesy of the Government of Ontario Art Collection, Toronto.
 

 


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