Leslie Frost

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Leslie Frost
Leslie Frost Premier of Ontario.jpg
The Hon. Leslie Miscampbell Frost
16th Premier of Ontario
In office
May 4, 1949 – November 8, 1961
MonarchGeorge VI
Elizabeth II
Lieutenant GovernorRay Lawson
Louis Orville Breithaupt
John Keiller MacKay
Preceded byThomas Kennedy
Succeeded byJohn Robarts
Member of the Legislative Assembly of Ontario for Victoria
In office
October 6, 1937 – May 16, 1963
Preceded byWilliam Newman
Succeeded byRonald Glen Hodgson
Personal details
Leslie Miscampbell Frost

(1895-09-20)September 20, 1895
Orillia, Ontario
DiedMay 4, 1973(1973-05-04) (aged 77)
Lindsay, Ontario
Resting placeRiverside Cemetery
Political partyOntario PC Party
Spouse(s)Gertrude Jane Carew
Alma materUniversity of Toronto
Osgoode Hall Law School
Military service
Allegiance Canada
Branch/serviceCanadian Army
Years of service1916-1918
RankBritish Army (1902-1920) OF-2.svg Captain
Unit157th Battalion (Simcoe Foresters)
Battles/warsWorld War I

Leslie Miscampbell Frost, PC CC QC (September 20, 1895 – May 4, 1973) was a politician in Ontario, Canada, who served as the province's 16th premier from May 4, 1949, to November 8, 1961.[1] Due to his lengthy tenure, he gained the nickname "Old Man Ontario"; he was also known as "the Silver Fox".[2]

Early years[edit]

Leslie Frost, 1916

Born in Orillia, Ontario, he was the son of William Sword Frost and Margaret Jane Barker.[3] His father was a jeweller and mayor of Orillia; his mother was an important figure in the early days of The Salvation Army. He attended the University of Toronto and Osgoode Hall Law School.[4] During World War I, he was an officer with "C"Company 157th Battalion (Simcoe Foresters), CEF, and served with the 20th Battalion, Queen's York Rangers in France and Belgium. In 1918, after being wounded, he was discharged with the rank of Captain.[5] He was called to the Bar in 1921.

In 1926, he married Gertrude Jane Carew. They had no children. The couple lived in Lindsay, Ontario, but Frost preferred his property at Pleasant Point on Sturgeon Lake north of Lindsay. When Frost and his brother, Cecil Gray Frost, first moved to Lindsay to establish a law practice, they rented a building at Pleasant Point that had been the community store and commuted to town by steamer. Frost bought the property in 1925 and, in about 1950, bought adjacent property where he built the winterized log cabin that was his refuge while he was premier and in retirement.

Early political career[edit]

In 1937, he was first elected to the Ontario legislature and thereafter never lost an election. He was the Treasurer of Ontario and Minister of Mines from 1943 to 1955. Frost was chosen as leader of the Ontario Progressive Conservative Party (the "Tories") following Premier George Drew's decision to enter federal politics.

Premier of Ontario[edit]

Dubbed "The Old Man Ontario" and "The Laird of Lindsay", Frost led the province during the economic boom of the 1950s.[6] His low-key approach garnered him the nickname "The Great Tranquilizer".[7] Combining small-town values with progressive policies, he took the Tories through three successive electoral victories winning majority governments in 1951, 1955 and 1959.[8]

Mrs. Leslie Frost attending a tea for the opening of the Legislature, 1960

Economic policy[edit]

Frost's government also attempted to wrest control of the income tax from the federal government, but failed, resulting in the introduction of a provincial sales tax. The Frost government introduced public hospital insurance to the province; it would be expanded by his successors to become the modern OHIP system of Medicare.

Frost's government oversaw substantial expansion in public services[9] and substantially increased public investment in the economy,[10] as well as through strong fiscal policies.[11]

Education policy[edit]

Under Frost, the number of universities in Ontario increased from four to twelve. As finance minister in 1943, the total provincial investment in education was just over $13 million. Upon his retirement in 1961, the education budget for Ontario was $250 million.[4]

Social policy[edit]

The Frost government was the first to pass laws providing penalties for racial, ethnic, and gender discrimination on private property; these laws, introduced in the early 1950s as the Fair Employment Practices Act and Fair Accommodation Practices Act,[12] started a movement in Ontario politics that produced the Ontario Human Rights Code in 1962 and later legislation. Frost's government also introduced legislation to ensure women received equal wages. His government also introduced voting rights for First Nations.[4]

Frost's government oversaw great expansion in the role of government. Under his leadership, Ontario greatly expanded its schools, highways and hospitals.[13] Under his leadership Ontario created the 400 series of superhighways, most notably the Macdonald-Cartier Freeway better known as Highway 401.

Frost's government oversaw the federation of the old City of Toronto with twelve surrounding municipalities to become Metropolitan Toronto.


Frost resigned in 1961,[14] and was succeeded as Tory leader and Premier by John Robarts.[15]

After politics[edit]

Upon retirement from politics, Frost served on the Board of Governors of the University of Toronto. As well, he was a member of the Board of Directors of the Bank of Montreal, KVP, Canada Life, and Trans Canada Air. Between 1954 and 1969 he also served as Vice-President of the Champlain Society and as its Honorary Vice-President from 1969 to 1973.[16] He served as Chancellor of Trent University from 1967 to 1973. In retirement, he continued his interest in the outdoors. Near the end of his life, he undertook for the government of Ontario an exhaustive investigation of the state and potential of Algonquin Provincial Park.[17] In the last interview he gave, just before he died, to the Toronto Star, he declared: "I am an environmentalist."

Frost was an excellent amateur historian. His book Fighting Men covered the history of the 35th Regiment of Simcoe Foresters from Orillia, Ontario in the context of the First World War. Within that he connects the Canadian home front to the war front in France, and connects the events within the regiment to the bigger picture of the war and Canada's subsequent role in world affairs.[18] His Forgotten Pathways of the Trent (published just after he died) challenged historians' previous conclusions about Indian trade and warfare routes in southern Ontario. He was an avid U.S. Civil War buff and kept on the mantelpiece in his large library a piece of wood that was supposed to have come from Abraham Lincoln's original log cabin.


Leslie Frost Public School in Lindsay, 1953

In 1969, he was made a Companion of the Order of Canada, Canada's highest civilian honour.[19]

Various places across Ontario are named for Frost:

Selected bibliography[edit]

  • Pleasant Point Story: a History of Pleasant Point (1965)
  • Fighting Men, with a foreword by Thomas H.B. Symons (1967)
  • Forgotten Pathways of the Trent (1973, ISBN 0-88768-037-2)
  • The record on Sir Sam Hughes set straight


  1. ^ Roy MacGregor (October 3, 2007). "Frost favoured change, too -- the slow, methodical kind". The Globe and Mail.
  2. ^ 'Ian Urquhart (September 12, 2007). "McGuinty has spring in his step". The Toronto Star. Retrieved 2007-10-03.
  3. ^ "The Honourable Leslie M. Frost". The Orillia Hall of Fame. Retrieved 2007-10-03.
  4. ^ a b c Leslie M. Frost (October 19, 1961). ONTARIO-1961 in The Empire Club of Canada Speeches 1961–1962. Toronto: The Empire Club Foundation. Archived from the original on December 3, 2016. Retrieved October 4, 2007.
  5. ^ "Leslie Frost Taping Project". Trent University. Retrieved 2007-10-04.
  6. ^ Martin Brook Taylor, Doug Owram (1994). Canadian History: A Reader's Guide. Toronto: University of Toronto Press.
  7. ^ Anya Spethmann (September 30, 2003). "In Ontario politics, 'bland works'". The Brock Press. Retrieved 2007-10-04.
  8. ^ "History of our Party". Ontario Provincial Progressive Conservative Party. Archived from the original on February 14, 2008. Retrieved 2007-10-03.
  9. ^ "Leslie M. Frost". Cogeco Television. Retrieved 2007-10-04.
  10. ^ "Leslie Miscampbell Frost". The Canadian Encyclopedia. Retrieved 2007-10-04.
  11. ^ "Leslie Frost". York University. Archived from the original on 2007-07-03. Retrieved 2007-10-04.
  12. ^ John Cooper (February 12, 2007). "Forget Americans, honour Burnett". The Toronto Star. Retrieved 2007-10-03.
  13. ^ "Leslie M. Frost". The Premier of Ontario. Retrieved 2007-10-04.
  14. ^ "Frost, Leslie Miscampbell". The Canadian Encyclopedia.
  15. ^ "Premiers of Ontario". Election Almanac.
  16. ^ Champlain Society. "Former Officers of the Champlain Society (1905-2012)". Retrieved 19 October 2014.
  17. ^ Gerald Killan (1993). Protected Places: A History of Ontario's Provincial Parks System. Dundurn Press ltd. p. 179.
  18. ^ Terence J. Fay (December 1969). "Fighting Men. Leslie Frost". Military Affairs. 33 (3): 413. JSTOR 1985143.
  19. ^ Order of Canada citation
  20. ^ "The Frost Centre for Canadian Studies & Native Studies". Trent University. Retrieved 2007-10-04.
  21. ^ "Leslie Frost Library". Glendon College. Retrieved 2007-10-23.
  22. ^ "Leslie Frost Public School". Leslie Frost Public School.
  23. ^ "The Frost Centre Institute - About FCI". FCI. Archived from the original on 2009-02-17. Retrieved 2009-01-21.

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]

Ontario provincial government of Leslie Frost
Cabinet post (1)
Predecessor Office Successor
Dana Porter Minister, Department of Economics
1958 (February–April)
James Allan
Ontario provincial government of Thomas Kennedy
Ontario provincial government of George A. Drew
Cabinet posts (2)
Predecessor Office Successor
Robert Laurier Minister of Mines
Welland Gemmell
Arthur Gordon Treasurer of Ontario
Dana Porter
Academic offices
Preceded by
New position
Chancellor of Trent University
Succeeded by