Toronto’s Orange Municipal Politicians - Part 3
John Shaw was born in Toronto in 1837. He attended Upper Canada College and Victoria College and apprenticed in the law firm of Patterson and Harris. He was called to the bar in 1870 and soon established his own practice. He lived in the village of Yorkville on Bloor Street West and when Yorkville was annexed by Toronto in 1883 he was elected to represent the village [St Paul's Ward] on city council.
He represented St Paul's until 1891 when the electoral boundaries were changed but continued to sit in city council until 1895 as the alderman for Ward 3. Shaw, who was a member of McKinley L.O.L. 275, ran for mayor in 1896 but was defeated by R.J. Fleming. In 1897, while he sat in council as alderman for Ward 3, he was elected Mayor of Toronto by city council to replace Fleming, who had resigned to become the city assessment commissioner.
He was re-elected in 1898 and 1899, both times defeating E.A. Macdonald. The most important event of Shaw's term of office was the completion of the city hall on Queen Street, which was designed by fellow Orangeman E.J. Lennox. In September of 1899 the official opening took place. Shaw presided over the establishment of the Toronto and Hudson's Bay Railway Commission, which was to study the feasibility of building a railway from Toronto to Hudson's Bay.
Shaw left politics following his 1899 term as mayor but returned to council in 1904 and 1905 as a member of the board of control. In 1908, he was elected to the provincial legislature as the member for Toronto North and in 1911 he retired from politics for good. Shaw died in Toronto on November 7, 1917.
William Henry Shaw
W. H. Shaw was born in Kent County, Ontario on April 1, 1858. He was the founder and president of Shaw Business Schools, Toronto. He was the chairman of the Toronto Board of Education in 1905. He is identified as an Orangeman in the National Reference Book on Canadian Men and Women – 1936. He sat on Toronto City Council as a member of the Board of Control in 1917. He ran for the mayor’s office in 1919 but came in fourth – of the four candidates running, three of them were Orangemen. He also represented Ward 2 as an alderman in 1923.
Joseph Sheard was born in Yorkshire, England in 1813 and came to Canada in 1833. He had paid for his own passage with money saved for some years through his job as a carpenter. He eventually made his way to York [Toronto] and stayed in "Macaulay Town", a working class neighbourhood near the present day Bay and Queen Streets. He plied his trade as a carpenter and bought a house on McGill Street.
Sheard had first made his mark on Toronto following the Upper Canada Rebellion when he refused to help in the construction of the gallows used to hand Peter Mathews and Samuel Lount. He soon built his small carpentry business into a large concern and eventually he not only built homes but designed them as well. His new venture into architecture was a success and he designed the Ontario Bank Building and Cawthra House.
He began his political career in 1851 when he sat as an alderman for St Patrick’s Ward. He was to represent this ward for over twenty years and in 1871 he was the unanimous choice of Toronto city council for the position of Mayor. He served another term in 1872 and then returned to the rank of aldermen where he served St Patrick’s Ward until 1876. His term as mayor was uneventful and no major changes took place during his term. He seems to have been a competent politician who made few enemies. Sheard died on August 30, 1883 in Toronto and the site of his house on McGill Street is now a city park named after him.
Henry Sherwood was born in Augusta Township, Upper Canada in 1807. He was elected to the parliament of Upper Canada representing Brockville in 1836. In 1841 he joined forces with Toronto mayor George Monro and they ran for the Tory party for the government of Canada West. Both men were members of the Orange Order and with the Order’s backing and the support of the Family Compact they were expected to win easily. In a shock result they were defeated by the Reformers. The following day the Reformers held a victory parade in Toronto and as they passed the Coleraine Tavern trouble broke out.
The tavern was owned by Samuel Sherwood, Henry’s brother and was a noted Orange gathering place. Conflicting reports gave blame for the firing of the first shot to both sides. A full scale riot erupted with one man being killed. Sherwood was elected as mayor of Toronto in 1842, succeeding George Monro and served until 1844. He was elected to the first parliament of the Province of Canada in 1843 and in 1847 he served as the Joint Premier of the Province of Canada for Canada West with D. Papineau representing Canada East. He was elected as an alderman for St. David’s Ward, 1845 – 1847 and as alderman for St. James Ward in 1848 and 1849. He died in Bavaria while travelling through Europe in July, 1855.
Samuel Sherwood was elected as an alderman for St. George’s Ward in 1859 and 1860 and as a councilman for the same ward in 1861. He was the Chief of Police for Toronto from 1853 – 1858.
George Sylvester Shields
George Sylvester Shields was born in Toronto on February 27, 1872 and he sat on the Toronto Council in 1923. He was elected to the Ontario Legislature in 1926 as the Conservative member for Toronto – Greenwood. He was identified as an Orangeman in the Conservative Party convention book of 1927.
Robert Siberry sat on Toronto City Council as an alderman from Ward 1 in 1927 – 1932. He ended his days in politics on a sour note because of his vocal anti Semitism. He was a member of L.O.L. No. 2097.
James Simpson was born in England on December 14, 1873. A committed socialist in politics, he was an active trade unionist. He served three times as Vice President of the Trades and Labor Congress of Canada – 1904 – 1909, 1916 – 1917, and 1924 -1936. He entered Toronto Municipal politics as a school trustee on the Toronto Board of Education, serving from 1905 – 1910. He was a member of the Toronto Board of Control in 1914 and 1930 – 1934.
Simpson was one of the leaders of the Ontario Labor Party in the 1920’s and had run as a candidate for the Canadian House of Commons under the banner of the Canadian Labour Party. Although he was a committed socialist Simpson strongly opposed Communism in the Labour Party and after the Communist bloc in the party convinced the Labor Party to withdraw its support of Simpson in his bid for a seat on the Toronto Board of Control in 1927, Simpson and his supporters quit the party causing it to collapse and fade away. He then formed the Toronto Labor Party which excluded Communists from membership. In 1934 he ran as a C.C.F. candidate for the Board of Control and he was elected and in 1935 he defeated fellow Orangeman Harry Hunt for the Mayoralty of Toronto. The only Toronto newspaper to support him had been the Toronto Star and he lost their support in his bid for reelection in 1936 because of his anti Catholic statements. Jimmy Simpson, trade unionist, supporter of the Canadian Labour Party and committed social activist died in Toronto on September 24, 1938. Simpson was a member of Queen City L.O.L. No. 857.
George Joseph Smith
George Smith sat on Toronto City Council in 1924, 1925 and 1926 as an alderman for Ward 1. He was elected to the Ontario Legislature as the Conservative member for the riding of Greenwood and held the seat until 1934. He was a member of Boyne L.O.L. No. 173.
William John Smith
Wm. Smith was born in Toronto on October 8, 1832. He was elected as an alderman in St Matthew’s Ward in 1885. He is identified as an Orangeman in “Cyclopedia of Canadian Biography, 1886.
David Spence was born in County Armagh, Ireland on January 25, 1867. He came to Canada in 1888 and settled in Toronto where he became a wholesale fruit dealer. He was a member of Toronto city council from 1910 – 1916 and served as a Captain in the Toronto Irish Regiment from 1916 – 1918. He was a member of the Toronto and York Roads Commission and was President of the Irish Rifle Club which was organized in 1911. He was elected to the Canadian House of Commons as a Conservative for the riding of Parkdale in 1921 and was reelected in 1925, 1926, 1930 and 1935. Spence was a member of Parkdale L.O.L. No. 207 and he died on February, 1940.
Francis Stephens Spence
Frank Spence was born in County Donegal, Ireland on March 29, 1850. He was a school headmaster for five years until 1882 when he came to Canada. He was a journalist/editor and was an alderman for Ward 2, 1896 – 1897, and 1899 – 1900. He was a member of the Toronto Board of Control for six terms between 1904 – 1915.
James Spence was born in County Armagh in 1808 and was a carpenter. He was elected to represent St John’s ward in 1873 – 1874. He was identified as an Orangeman in “History of Toronto”.
James Russell Lovett Starr
James Russell Lovell Starr was born at Grimsby, Ontario on October 5, 1865. He graduated from Victoria College with a B.A. in 1885 and with an LL.B. in 1890 and was called to the bar the same year. He set up his law practice in Toronto and was given the title of K.C. in 1908. He was a member of the Public School Board for seven years and was also a member of the Toronto Board of Trade. He served as an alderman on Toronto Council for two years before resigning to attend to his law practice. He was very active in the Conservative Party and attended as a delegate from Toronto the 1927 Liberal Conservative convention held at Winnipeg, Manitoba to elect a new leader for the party. Identified as an Orangeman in the Conservative Party convention book of 1927.
William James Stewart, C.B.E.
W. J. Stewart was born in Toronto on February 13, 1889. From 1924 to 1930 he served as the alderman for Ward 5. He was elected mayor of Toronto in 1930 and held the office until 1934 when he decided to retire from the office. In 1938 he was elected to the Ontario Legislature as the Conservative M.P.P. for the riding of Parkdale and he held the seat for over two decades until 1959. He served as the Speaker of the Ontario Legislature in 1944. One of his greatest accomplishments was in spearheading the building of Sunnybrook Hospital for injured war veterans. In 1961 he was appointed chairman of the Toronto Historical Board and held the position until he passed away on September 18, 1969. W. J. Stewart was a past master of Cavan Black Red L.O.L. No. 657 and also held membership in William G. Armstrong L.O.L. No. 3271.
William Templeton Stewart
William T. Stewart was a Toronto alderman for Ward 1 in 1893 – 1894 and 1899 and 1906. He was a member of Prince of Orange L.O.L. No. 111 and L.O.L. No. 445.
George Johnston St. Leger
G. J. St. Leger was born in Belfast and came to Canada c.1871. He founded a large mercantile store on Queen Street W. He was elected as mayor of Toronto Junction and served three years on Toronto Council representing St. Patrick’s Ward, 1887 - 1889. He attended the formation of Aughrim Rose of Derry L.O.L. No. 2159 in 1910 and was listed as a past master. His home was named Clandeboye and was added to Toronto’s High Park after his death.
William Strachan was a member of York L.O.L. No. 375 and served as master of the lodge in 1855. He served as Orange County Master of York in 1857 and as Junior Deputy Grand Master of the Grand Orange Lodge of Ontario West in 1861. He was elected as alderman for the St. Lawrence Ward in 1856, 1858 and 1860 – 1870. In 1858 he was listed as the Grand Treasurer for the G.O.L. of Canada.
Donald Summerville was born in Toronto in 1915 and was the son of William Summerville, an Orangeman who had served as a Toronto alderman and as a Toronto M.P.P. in the Ontario Legislature. He served in the Royal Canadian Air Force during World War Two and was the manager of Summerville Properties. He entered political life being elected as an alderman n Ward 8 in 1955 and held the office until 1958. He served on the Toronto Board of Control from 1959 – 1961. He was elected as Mayor of Toronto in 1962 and was still mayor when he suffered a heart attack while playing in a charity hockey game. He died on November 19, 1963. Don Summerville was a member of Riverdale L.O.L. No. 2097.
William Arthur Summerville
Bill Summerville was born in Cargill, Bruce County, Ontario on July 8, 1879. He was fascinated with show business at an early age and went on a cross country tour as a youngster of nineteen. A cornet player, he had played with the 48th Highlanders band when he was just ten years old and he was a member of the “William West Minstrel Show”. He was the father of future mayor of Toronto, Don Summerville and was the main concert promoter in the east end of Toronto. In 1908 he started to sell real estate and in 1912 he opened up his own real estate company on Danforth Avenue in the east end of the city.
He got into municipal politics in 1920 winning a seat on the Toronto Board of Education, and in 1922 he was elected to city council for Ward 1 in 1922. He would continue to represent Ward 1 until 1933, and served on the Toronto Board of Control for two years. He was elected to the Ontario Legislature in 1937, winning the riding of Riverdale for the Conservative Party. He would hold the riding until 1943. He was a member of Riverdale L.O.L. 2097 and Temple R.B.P. 292.
W. W. Sweet
William Sweet was the master of Duke of York L.O.L. No. 396 in 1900.
Brook Sykes was born in Yorkshire, England on October 19, 1884 and came to Canada in 1904. He was a successful building contractor in Toronto and he was elected as an alderman to the Toronto City Council from Ward 6 in 1918 – 1925, and in 1927. He ran for mayor in 1929, losing to fellow Orangeman Sam McBride. Sykes was a member of William III L.O.L. No. 140.
Joseph Elijah Thompson
Joseph Elijah Thompson was born on July 19, 1867 in Toronto and grew up in the Cabbagetown area of the city. In 1889 he secured employment as a clerk in the City of Toronto’s treasurer’s office. In 1907 he was appointed as Commissioner of Industry and Publicity for the city of Toronto. He left this office in 1908 and established his own insurance broker’s business.
In 1915 he was elected to Toronto’s Board of Control for the first of two terms. His term on the Board was interrupted when he volunteered for service in the Canadian Armed Forces. He served as a captain with the Canadian Expeditionary Force and took part in the Allied occupation of Germany. He was discharged in 1919 and resumed his business and political career.
In 1919 he was elected to the Ontario Legislature as the Conservative member for the riding of Toronto Northeast and was given the position of Conservative party whip when the Legislature opened in March of 1920. As a result of holding this position he chaired the 1920 Ontario Conservative Party leadership convention.
He was re-elected in 1923 and in February, 1924 was elected as Speaker of the Ontario Legislature. He retired from this position in 1926 and that same year was elected in the riding of St. David in Toronto with an overwhelming majority. He did not seek re-election in 1929 and retired from provincial politics.
Thompson was a member of Medcalf L.O.L. No. 781 in Toronto and served as County Master of Toronto in 1907 and 1908. Joseph Elijah Thompson died on March 16, 1941 in Toronto.
Samuel Thompson was born on August 27, 1810 in London, England and came to Upper Canada in 1833. For the first few years he tried farming with his brothers near Bradford, Ontario but in 1837 he moved to Toronto where he took up his trade as a printer. During the Upper Canada Rebellion Thompson was a member of the Toronto militia and fought against William Lyon Mackenzie even though like many other Orangemen of the time he was a Reformer.
In 1838 he became editor of the "Upper Canada Mercantile Advertiser" a Toronto newspaper. In 1848 he became editor of the "Toronto Patriot" and the next year, in partnership with Ogle Gowan, he purchased the paper. The partnership with Gowan lasted until 1853 when it was dissolved with hard feelings on both sides. That year he bought the "British Colonist" and with the financing of John Hillyard Cameron he saw the paper’s circulation rise to over 25,000.
In 1858 he was awarded the government printing contract and he moved to Quebec with the legislature. This was to prove to be a bad move on Thompson’s part. While doing the government printing he also published a small newspaper, the "Quebec Weekly Advertiser". The government cut back on the amount spent on printing and Thompson had a hard time financially. The breaking point came when several Quebec politicians accused him of libeling them in his paper and Thompson received death threats and threats to burn his business down.
He moved back to Toronto in 1860 and became managing director of the Beaver Mutual Fire Insurance Association until 1876 when the company was declared insolvent. During his earlier stay in Toronto Thompson had served as a councillor for St. George’s Ward from 1849 - 1854. In 1883 he accepted a position as a librarian for the city of Toronto and kept that position until his death. In 1884 he published his memoirs: "Reminiscences of a Canadian pioneer for the last fifty years: an autobiography" Samuel Thompson died in Toronto on July 8, 1886.
Tom Thompson was born in Yorkshire, England in 1824 and came to Canada in 1848. He was a harness maker and he formed #10 Company of the 10th Royals. He held the rank of captain and served at the Battle of Fort Erie. He was a member of Toronto L.O.L. No. 127 and was elected as a councilman for St. Lawrence ward, 1861 – 1864 served as an alderman in the same ward, 1865 - 1868. Thompson died in 1902.
George Langrish Tizard was born in Weymouth, England on June 11, 1841. He served as an alderman for St. John’s Ward 1878 – 1879. He was a member of L.O.L. No. 375 and was the master of Toronto Centre District in 1877 and was also County Master of Toronto Royal Black Knights.
Joseph T. Turner
Joseph Turner was elected as an alderman for Ward 8 in 1924.
Robert Crawford Vaughan
Robert Vaughan was a Toronto alderman for Ward 4 in 1905 - 1907 and 1909. He was a Toronto police officer before starting a successful building contractor business. Vaughan was a member of William III L.O.L. No. 140. He died in 1925.
William J. Wadsworth
William Wadsworth was born in Ceylon, Grey County, Ontario, on May 8, 1885. He moved to Toronto with his family when he was a youth. He worked at the treasury department before founding the “Wadsworth Coal Company”. He was elected in 1927 and held the office until he was elected to the Toronto Board of Control in 1935. He remained the office until 1946 when he was defeated by fellow Orangeman John Innes. Wadsworth died in 1949.
Dr. William Rundle Walters
William Rundle Walters was born in Audley, Pickering Township, Ontario in 1867. He graduated from the University of Toronto in 1887. Although technically not a Toronto politician, the jurisdictions that he served were eventually swallowed up by the fast growing city of Toronto. He served on the York County School Board, 1887 – 1889 and was a York County councillor, 1890, 1891. He was the Reeve of East Toronto for eight years and Mayor of East Toronto for four years and led the amalgamation with Toronto in 1924. He represented Ward 8 on the Toronto Board of Education from 1925 – 1930, serving as Chairman in 1930. Walters died on October 14, 1930.
John Wanless was born in Toronto on August 28, 1862. A jeweler, he sat on York Township council, 1903 - 1905. He sat on the Toronto Council as an alderman from Ward 4, 1912 – 1914 and on the Toronto Board of Education, 1921 and 1922. Wanless was a member of Lansdowne L.O.L. No. 469.
John J. Ward
John Ward was born in London, Ontario in 1866. He was a Toronto controller from 1905 – 1911, and was a member of Boyne L.O.L. No. 173. Identified as an Orangeman in “Greater Toronto and the Men Who Made It”.
Simon Ebenezer Washburn was born in 1794 in Fredericksburgh Township, Upper Canada. He served in the Canadian militia during the War of 1812 and then studied law under William Baldwin at York [Toronto] and was called to the bar in January, 1820. He practiced law with Baldwin until he opened his own law office in 1825. He was Clerk of the Peace for the Home District from October 1828 until his death in 1837. In May, 1829 he became reporter to the Court of King’s Bench, a position that he resigned from just six months later because his law practice was too busy for him to devote time to the job.
In 1830 there was a scandal in York when it was alleged that Washburn had bribed a customs officer by paying him seventy-five pounds to release a shipment of pork which had been allegedly smuggled into the city by one of his clients, William Bergin. The payment had been arranged by Washburn’s brother-in-law, James Fitzgibbon, clerk of the House of Assembly who was charged with bribery. Washburn managed to come out of the affair with his reputation intact.
In 1830 and 1832 he ran against William Lyon Mackenzie in two elections for the House of Assembly seat in York County but lost each time. Despite this Washburn was one of the Orangemen who managed to keep open the lines of communication between Mackenzie and his arch-rivals, the Orangemen. In 1837 he was elected as an alderman for St David’s Ward in Toronto, and by 1835 he had been appointed as the colonel of the 2nd Regiment of West York militia. He was active in St James Anglican Church and served as churchwarden.
William Lyon Mackenzie had a soft spot in his heart for Washburn and in one of the few times that he praised a political opponent he said that Washburn had been "kind and generous" and referred to his public actions on behalf of blacks and those accused of minor crimes in which cases he provided his services as a lawyer for free. He died in Toronto on September 29, 1837 in Toronto.
Bert Wemp was born in Tweed, Ontario in 1889 and moved with his family to Toronto at a young age. After high school he got a job with The Toronto Telegram in 1905 and was to work for them until his retirement in 1964. He served as a pilot during World War One with the 118th Squadron, Royal Navy Air Service and was the first Canadian to be accepted to the British flying service during the war. Wemp was the first Canadian to be awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross.
In 1922 he was elected as a school trustee with the Toronto Board of Education and served two years in the position. He was elected as alderman in Ward 2 in 1924 and 1925 and was a member of the Toronto Board of Control from 1917 – 1929. He was elected mayor of Toronto in 1930 and served for one year then returned to his job as City Editor of the Telegram. Bert Wemp was a member of Medcalf L.O.L. No. 781 and he died on February 11, 1976.
John Winnett was born in Toronto in 1866 and he was a carriage and wagon maker. He represented Ward 2 on Toronto city council for fifteen years. Winnett was a member of Queen City L.O.L. No. 857 and served as the Orange County Master of Toronto in 1925. He died in 1950.
Francis Henry Woods was born in Toronto in 1856. He was a printer and real estate developer and was a member of Medcalf L.O.L. No. 781. He was elected as an alderman from Ward 5 from 1897 – 1899 and 1902 – 1903.
Joseph Wright was born in Lincolnshire, England in 1847 and came to Canada in 1854. He was elected as an alderman in St. Patrick’s Ward, Toronto – 1876 – 1877. Identified as an Orangeman in Cyclopedia of Canadian Biography – 1886.
Robert Maxwell Yeomans
Robert Yeomans was born in Wolverhampton, England in 1877. He was elected as an alderman in 1911 and 1912 representing Ward 2 but was defeated in 1913 and 1914 in his attempt to win a seat on the Board of Control. He was a member of Sproule L.O.L. No. 2253 and died in 1959.
Submitted by Rt.Wor.Bro.Alec Rough – PGM Ontario West – April 3-2012
The members of the County Orange Lodge of Toronto thank Brother Rough for this wonderful submission. We also would like to acknowledge the thousands of hours of work that this Brother has logged in his efforts to chronicle the history of the Association and its members in Canada. All interested parties are invited to read his “Canadian Orange Historical Site”, located at http://roughian.tripod.com/.
This list that was compiled by Alec Rough contains over one hundred and eighty entries, and by his own admission he” may have missed some”.
The opening paragraphs detailed a dust up between Sam McBride and Jimmy Simpson and their supporters and seemed to be a throwback to the street politics that were quite prevalent in earlier generations in Toronto. Two items of interest were (a) that the meeting was held in Victoria Hall, which was the Auditorium located on the main floor of the County Orange Hall, a building which stood for many years at 55 Queen Street East and (b), both McBride and Simpson went on to become mayors of Toronto, defeating fellow Orangemen Thomas Foster and Harry Hunt respectively.
Some commentators and writers with an axe to grind have tried to downplay the role of our Organization in the history of Toronto, with regard to its political and social development and those mental-midgets, who hurl insults, should perhaps take a good look at the record of service of these men. They are most welcome to do this as a result of Brother Rough’s fine work.
Again, we thank Brother Rough for his submission to this website.
List of Articles
- Toronto’s Orange Municipal Politicians - Part 3
- Toronto’s Orange Municipal Politicians - Part 2
- Toronto’s Orange Municipal Politicians - Part 1
- 90th Anniversary Meeting of Birchcliff L.O.L.2856
- Documents From the 1860’s and 1870’s Uncovered
- Annual Meeting and Elections at Toronto County Lodge
- County Orange Lodge Receives Historic Banner
- Past Master’s Jewel Donated to County Lodge
- The Formation of the County Orange Lodge of Toronto
- Royal Arch Purple Degree Day at Toronto County Lodge - Nov, 6th, 2010
- Thomas Gatenby, Young Orangeman Drowned at Toronto Yacht Club, September 1887
- Father as Master-Son as Deputy Master
- Seven Initiated at Vimy L.O.L.2697 in Whitby
- Royal Arch Purple Degree Day
- The Orange Order and Civic Politics 1925-26
- Enniskillen L.O.L 387 Walks in Belfast - July 1957
- Toronto County Lodge Return of 1934
- A Message from the County Master, July 12th 1944
- The Sash Canada Wore—- A Review—-The Globe 1980
- “Toronto Star - Letter from the City Editor - May 13th, 1935”
- 1967… A Message From The County Master
- Silver Jubilee of Imperial LOL 2767
- Five Orangemen Killed in the Line of Duty, July 10th 1902
- Why join the Orange Association?