BC Premier #20 – Simon Fraser Tolmie

The 20th Premier of the Province of British Columbia was Simon Fraser Tolmie. I have no idea if he was related to the explorer Simon Fraser after whom the University, the river and a billion other things in BC were named. He doesn’t appear to have been a direct descendant, as Simon Fraser the Explorer immigrated to Canada from Scotland, settling in Quebec, in the 1780s, while Simon Fraser Tolmie’s father was born in Scotland and immigrated to Canada, arriving at Fort Vancouver, in 1833.  I’m sure there’s a very good chance they are related, but (a) there seemed to have been tonnes of people named “Simon Fraser,” including the lion’s share of the line of “Lord Lovats.” At this point in my research1 my head hurts, so we’ll just leave this issue as “currently unresolved)).  And now, onto the useless fact-listing!

File:Simon Fraser Tolmie.png Name Simon Fraser Tolmie
Born: January 25, 1867 in Victoria, BC
Died: October 13, 1937 in Victoria, BC
Party: Conservative
Held Office: August 21, 1928 – November 15, 1933
  • he had a “pioneer lineage” on both sides of his family:
    • his father: “Dr. William Fraser Tolmie, a prominent figure in the Hudson’s Bay Company and a member of both the colonial assembly of Colony of Vancouver Island and the Legislative Assembly of British Columbia”2
    • his mother: Jane Work, “daughter of John Work, a prominent Victoria resident, Hudson’s Bay Company Chief Factor, and member of the former colony’s assembly”3
  • 1891: graduated from vet school at the Ontario Veterinary College4
  • 1917: entered federal politics as an MP for Victoria City in the Unionist Party; served in this role until 1928, although under the Conservative banner after his first Parliament
  • 1919-1921 and 1926: federal Minister of Agriculture
  • 1926: elected leader of BC Conservative Party (although stayed as a federal MP until the next provincial election in 1928)
  • 1928: elected as a provincial MLA in Saanich and, as his party won the most seats (32 of 48), he became the Premier and Minister of Railways
  • his party had a “commitment to applying “business principles to the business of government””5, which really didn’t work so well when the Great Depression hit
  • the whole Conservative Party fell into chaos after this, with a Royal Commission that Tolmie established (at the request of the business community) suggesting drastic cuts to social programs to fix the dire finances of the province – and people freaking out over this suggestion. The party was in such disarray, in fact, that they didn’t run *any* candidate in the 1933 election
  • 1933: some former Tories ran as independents or “independent Conservatives” or Unionists (if they supported Tolmie) or “Non-Partisans” (if they supported former Premier Bowser); not surprisingly, with all the vote splitting, the Liberals won a majority government and the NDP-forerunner party, the Coopeartive Commonwealth Federation, became the Official Opposition.  Tolmie lost his seat.
  • holds the dubious distinction of being the last Premier of BC for the Conservative Party6
  • 1936: won a federal by-election in his old riding of Victoria
  • 1937: died

In summary, he killed the BC Conservative Party7.

Image credits: Accessed from Wikipedia. In the public domain. w00t!

Wikipedia, the reference of champions

  1. i.e., goofing around on Wikipedia []
  2. Wikipedia []
  3. Wikipedia []
  4. which is now at the U of Guelph (go Guelph!), but at the time was at U of T []
  5. Wikipedia []
  6. there have certainly been other conservative premiers, including the current one, but they’ve used other names, like SoCreds and the current BC so-called “Liberal” party, but none using the Conservative Party name []
  7. in name anyway. Their pro-business agenda lives on in Gordon Campbell and his ilk []

Comments |1|

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  • “Tory times are tough times”

    Apparently my Gran (1898-1983) has something boring to say about George Stewart Henry 10th Premier of Ontario December 15, 1930 – July 10, 1934

    George Henry was opposed to government intervention to deal with the economy. Aside from building roads, his government did little to alleviate public suffering during the Depression, such as unemployment in the cities, or the collapse of prices for farm products in the country. Henry’s government, like the federal government of R.B. Bennett, established work camps for jobless men. They were established not so much to provide social welfare, but rather as social control, i.e., to evacuate this potentially radical element from the cities. The work camps also provided a source of labour for the construction of Henry’s highway system.

    In the 1934 election, Henry sought a new mandate from the voters in his first election as Premier. Some felt the government had little to offer beyond more road construction, and the Tories were soundly defeated by the Ontario Liberal Party led by Mitchell Hepburn.


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