Patrons of Industry

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The Grand Association of the Patrons of Industry in Ontario was a Canadian farmers' organization formed in 1890 that cooperated with the urban labour movement to address the political frustrations of both groups with big business.

Based on the Patrons of Industry of Michigan that had formed in 1889, it declared itself independent of the American group in 1891. It was dedicated to upholding and encouraging the moral, social, intellectual, political and financial situation of rural Ontarians and to preserve the way of life that existed in farming communities in the late nineteenth century against encroaching industrialization. The Patrons' membership exceeded 30,000 at its peak.[1]

Although centered in Ontario the organization was also active in Manitoba, Quebec and the maritime provinces. Duncan Marshall came to latter region in 1895 and within a year established more than eighty lodges in Prince Edward Island alone. He also edited a Charlottetown weekly newspaper "The Patron of Industry". Moving into P.E.I. provincial politics by contesting a by-election seat in 1896 the organization was unable to break into the established two-party alignment in the province and was soundly defeated. Marshal left the province soon after the election and the movement in the region collapsed.

The Patrons nominated candidates in the 1894 Ontario provincial election. Sixteen members of the Legislative Assembly were elected with Patrons of Industry support -- 12 Liberals, one Conservative, and three who ran only under the "Patrons of Industry" banner.

The Patrons of Industry also nominated 31 candidates in the 1896 federal election, but only two, David Dickson Rogers and William Varney Pettet, were elected to the Canadian House of Commons.

The party was soon divided on the question of cooperation with the Ontario Liberal Party. The party achieved few gains for farmers, and the group was virtually extinct by 1900.

It has been argued by some that the Patrons represented a constant left-wing element in the Canadian Electorate, represented today by the New Democratic Party.

1896 candidates[edit]


Further reading[edit]


  1. ^ Patrons of Industry Trent University Archives

See also[edit]