James Whitney

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James Whitney
James Whitney.jpg
The Hon. Sir James Pliny Whitney
6th Premier of Ontario
In office
February 8, 1905 – September 25, 1914
MonarchEdward VII
George V
Lieutenant GovernorWilliam Mortimer Clark
John Morison Gibson
John Strathearn Hendrie
Preceded byGeorge William Ross
Succeeded byWilliam Howard Hearst
Member of the Legislative Assembly
In office
January 31, 1888 – September 25, 1914[1]
Preceded byTheodore F. Chamberlain
Succeeded byIrwin Foster Hilliard
Personal details
Born(1843-10-02)October 2, 1843
Williamsburgh Township, Upper Canada
DiedSeptember 25, 1914(1914-09-25) (aged 70)
Toronto, Ontario
Resting placeHoly Trinity Anglican Cemetery, Morrisburg, Ontario
Political partyOntario Conservative Party
Spouse(s)Alice Park

Sir James Pliny Whitney KCMG KC (October 2, 1843 – September 25, 1914) was a Canadian politician in the province of Ontario. Whitney was a lawyer in eastern Ontario, Conservative member for Dundas from 1888 to 1914, and the sixth Premier of Ontario from 1905 to 1914.

Early life[edit]

Whitney was born in Williamsburgh Township in 1843 and attended Cornwall Grammar School before articling the law office of John Sandfield Macdonald in the 1860s, but did not resume his legal studies until 1871. He was called to the bar in 1875, and practiced law in Morrisburg.[2]

Early political career[edit]

Whitney was elected to the Ontario legislature in 1888.[2] He became leader of the Conservative Party in 1896 taking it from a narrow, bigoted rump into a forward-looking party determined to build the province.

Premier of Ontario[edit]

In the 1905 election, he led the Tories to victory for the first time in 33 years by defeating the Liberal government of George William Ross.

Statue of Sir James Whitney by Hamilton MacCarthy, Queen's Park, Toronto.

Whitney's government laid the basis for Ontario's industrial development by creating the Hydro-Electric Power Commission of Ontario,[3] with Sir Adam Beck as its chairman and driving force. His government also passed significant temperance[4] and workmen's compensation[5] legislation. He also supported the anti-Catholic, anti-French-Canadian sentiments of supporters of the Orange Order in his caucus (such as George Howard Ferguson) by passing Regulation 17 , which banned the teaching of French in schools beyond the first three years of school. The measure inflamed French-Canadian opinion across Canada, particularly in Quebec, and split the country as it entered World War I.

Death and legacy[edit]

Whitney died in office shortly after winning the 1914 election. Whitney had a suspected heart attack during his convalescence in New York City in 1913 and returned to Toronto staying a Toronto General Hospital.[6] A 1920s government building across from Queen's Park is named the Whitney Block after him. A statue of him stands on the Queen's Park grounds. Whitney Hall, a residential building at nearby University College, of the University of Toronto, is also named after him.[7]


  1. ^ "James Pliny Whitney, MPP". Legislative Assembly of Ontario Past Members. Toronto: Queen's Printer for Ontario. 2011. Archived from the original on 2014-03-13. Retrieved 2011-12-11.
  2. ^ a b Wikisource-logo.svg Rines, George Edwin, ed. (1920). "Whitney, James Pliny" . Encyclopedia Americana.
  3. ^ An act to provide for the Transmission of Electrical Power to Municipalities, S.O. 1906, c. 15
  4. ^ An act to amend The Liquor License Laws, S.O. 1906, c. 47
  5. ^ The Workmen's Compensation Act, S.O. 1914, c. 25
  6. ^ http://www.biographi.ca/en/bio.php?id_nbr=7769
  7. ^ Profile of Whitney Hall; University of Toronto. Retrieved 2017-12-07.

External links[edit]