William Peyton Hubbard
|William Peyton Hubbard|
|Portrait of William Peyton Hubbard|
|City Council for City of Toronto|
August 2, 1894 – August 6, 1902
|Deputy Mayor for City of Toronto|
May 22, 1906 – March 30, 1907
|Toronto Board of Control|
May 205, 1908 – April 30, 1915
Toronto, Ontario , Canada
|Died||April 13, 1935 (Age 93)
Toronto, Ontario , Canada
|Occupation||Politician and Baker|
William Peyton Hubbard (1842–April 13, 1935), a City of Toronto Alderman from 1894 to 1914, was a popular and influential politician, of particular historical note as the first politician of African descent in Canada.
Born in Toronto, Hubbard was the son of American slaves who escaped to Canada via the Underground Railroad. He became a baker by trade, and one well known for his strong political opinions. Hubbard was also fluent in French and English.
After working for 16 years as a baker, Hubbard went into business on his own as a taxi driver. One winter night, he rescued another cab, and its occupant, newspaper publisher George Brown from drowning in the Don River. He and Brown became friends and the publisher later encouraged Hubbard to seek public office. His childhood friend was Anderson Ruffin Abbott and both attended the same university, the University of Toronto.
He was first elected in 1894 in a quiet, tree-lined ward of grand homes that happened to be one of the wealthiest and whitest wards in the city (encompassing an area between University Avenue and Bathurst Street).
A conservative and a reformer armed with a sharp wit and a powerful oratory skills, Hubbard was also known for his strong sense of public duty, and made a name for himself fighting for public ownership of Toronto's water and hydroelectric supplies. Hubbard was appointed to the Toronto Board of Control, the city's powerful executive body, in 1898 and agitated to have the body directly elected by the people. He won election to the body in the first city-wide election in 1904 and topped the polls in the election to the Board in 1906. He was re-elected in 1907 but defeated in 1908.
Hubbard was the first visible minority, and the first black citizen, to be elected to public office, at either the local, provincial, or federal level, in a Canadian city. (While two black councilors had been elected in local elections prior to Hubbard, both were from smaller towns with populations of less than 4,000 each. Indeed, one of the black city councillors, Mifflin Gibbs, was from Vancouver Island which at the time was still a British colony; since British Columbia had not yet joined Confederation and was not yet a part of Canada).
Retirement and death
Losing an election in 1915, Hubbard retired to the Riverdale area of the city, building a home in which he would spend his remaining days until his death at the age of 93. Coincidentally, the alderman dubbed the Grand Old Man by Toronto press in his political days, serving well into his 70s, was the quite literally the oldest man in the city for a short period before his death.
- "Historicist: Public History and William Peyton Hubbard", The Torontoist, February 14, 2009
- Backgrounder for Award named in his honour
- "Historicist: Public History and William Peyton Hubbard". torontoist.com. 14 February 2009.
- March 2011 Toronto Star article on William Hubbard by Mark Maloney
- Toronto History – Old Cicero, the last Grand Old Man