George Stewart Henry

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George Stewart Henry
George Stewart Henry.jpg
10th Premier of Ontario
In office
December 15, 1930 – July 10, 1934
MonarchGeorge V
Lieutenant GovernorWilliam Donald Ross
William Mulock (acting)
Herbert A. Bruce
Preceded byHoward Ferguson
Succeeded byMitchell Hepburn
Member of Provincial Parliament
In office
September 8, 1913 – August 4, 1943
Preceded byAlexander McCowan
Succeeded byAgnes Macphail
ConstituencyYork East
Personal details
Born(1871-07-16)July 16, 1871
King Township, Ontario
DiedSeptember 2, 1958(1958-09-02) (aged 87)
Toronto, Ontario
Resting placeMount Pleasant Cemetery, Toronto
Political partyProgressive Conservative
Spouse(s)Anna Ketha Pickett
ResidenceVillage of Todmorden (Toronto)
Alma materUniversity of Toronto
OccupationFarmer, Lawyer

George Stewart Henry (July 16, 1871 – September 2, 1958) was a farmer, businessman and politician in Ontario, Canada. He served as the Premier of Ontario from 1930 to 1934. Prior to becoming Premier, he acted as Minister of Highways, during which time Ontario greatly expanded its highway system. Henry continued the expansion of the highway system as Premier, however his party did not provide relief during the Great Depression and lost the 1934 election.


Henry was born in Township of King, York County, Ontario, the son of William and Louisa Henry.

He attended Upper Canada College for high school, moving on to the University of Toronto, where he received a Bachelor of Arts. He earned his LL.B. at Osgoode Hall Law School. He also spent a year at the University of Toronto's Ontario Agricultural College in Guelph, and decided to become a farmer in East York, Ontario.

He was a member of York Township Council from 1903 until 1910, was reeve from 1906 to 1910 and elected warden of York in 1909.[1]

Political career[edit]

He was elected to the Legislative Assembly of Ontario in 1913 as a Conservative in the riding of York East. In 1918 he was appointed as Minister of Agriculture. In 1920 he ran for the leadership of the provincial Conservatives at that party's first ever leadership convention but lost to Howard Ferguson who led the party to victory in the subsequent general election. From 1923 to 1930, Henry served as Minister of Highways in the Ferguson government, expanding on the highway system that was initiated by the previous government of Ernest C. Drury.

Political cartoon depicting Henry and Lincoln Goldie during the tenure of Howard Ferguson

When Ferguson stepped down in 1930, barely a year into the Great Depression, Henry succeeded him as Conservative party leader and Premier of Ontario. Henry continued the programme of building roads, extending Ontario's highway system from 670 km to 3888 km.

Construction of Canada's first four-lane controlled access superhighway, the Toronto to Niagara Falls Queen Elizabeth Way, is the most lasting achievement of the highway program. 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. He became the Leader of the Opposition from 1934, until he retired as the Conservative leader in 1938.[2]

Henry Farm[edit]

In 1898, Henry bought the farm house and property where he would spend almost all of his adult life, after he graduated from the Ontario Agricultural College.[2] The "Mulholland Homestead" had been settled by his great-grandfather Henry Mulholland who sold it in the early 19th century.[3]

The farm was located in what was then known as Todmorden, and contained 460 acres. He sold it in 1958 for approximately CA$2 million to a British construction firm that was planning on building a housing division. He died ten days after completing the sale, on September 2, 1958.[2] It became a suburban housing subdivision in the 1960s, named "Henry Farm" in what was then known as the City of North York, now part of the amalgamated City of Toronto.

A public high school near his former homestead was named after him, George S. Henry Academy.[4]


  1. ^ A cyclopædia of Canadian biography. Hunter-Rose Company. 1919. p. 282.
  2. ^ a b c "George S. Henry, 87, Dies". The Toronto Daily Star. Toronto. 1958-09-03. p. 10.
  3. ^ Dunkelman, David (2012). "North York: Henry Farm". Toronto Neighbourhood Guide. Toronto: Maple Tree Publishing. Archived from the original on 2012-02-04. Retrieved 2012-01-08.
  4. ^ "George S. Henry Academy". Toronto: Toronto District School Board. 2012. Archived from the original on 2012-01-17. Retrieved 2012-01-08.

External links[edit]

Political offices
Preceded by
Edward Arunah Dunlop
Treasurer of Ontario
Succeeded by
Mitchell Hepburn
Preceded by
W. E. N. Sinclair
Leader of the Opposition in the
Ontario Legislature

Succeeded by
George Drew
Government offices
Preceded by
Frank Campbell Biggs
Minister of Public Works and Highways and Minister of Highways
1923–1930 and 1930–1931
Succeeded by
Leopold Macaulay as Minister of Highways