Robert White (Canadian politician)

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Robert Wesley White
2nd Mayor of Scarborough, Ontario
In office
Preceded byAlbert Campbell
Succeeded byPaul Cosgrove
Personal details
Scarborough, Ontario
Died1985 (aged 64)[1]

Robert Wesley White (1922-1985) was a Canadian politician who was mayor of Scarborough, Ontario from 1969 to 1972; the second person to occupy the office. During his tenure, the Scarborough Civic Centre and Scarborough Town Centre were planned and built.[1]

Born and raised in Scarborough, White was a Lancaster bomber pilot with the Royal Canadian Air Force during World War II.[1]

After the war, he operated the family's florist business. James White & Sons, which had been founded by his grandfather in 1919.[1][2]

He was first elected to the local school board in 1956 before being first elected as a Scarborough town councillor in 1959. In October 1969, he was appointed mayor by Scarborough council after his predecessor, Albert Campbell, vacated the position to become Chairman of Metropolitan Toronto.[3] He was subsequently elected to the position in his own right, later that year, in the municipal election.[1] At the time he became mayor, Scarborough had a population of 330,000 having grown from the small agricultural community of 10,000 it was when he was a child.[4]

White was seen as a pro-development mayor. During his tenure, the value of annual construction permits more than doubled.[5]

In 1970, White was embroiled in a scandal when it emerged he had accepted a free flight on a private jet from Halifax to Toronto from a developer so he could return to Scarborough in time to vote on a public housing project the developer had a financial interest in. but which was opposed by area residents.[6][7][1] The controversy led to his defeat by Paul Cosgrove in the 1972 election.[1]

He had been accused earlier of conflict of interest while he was a town councillor in 1960 for introducing a zoning exemption that would allow for an apartment building to be built on land owned by the florist business he owned.[8]

After his defeat, White returned to the family business.[1] In 1974, he was appointed by Metropolitan Toronto Council to a seat on the Metro Toronto and Region Conservation Authority.[9]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k "R.W. White was ex-mayor of Scarborough", Toronto Star (1971-2009); Toronto, Ontario [Toronto, Ontario]18 Jan 1985: A17.
  2. ^ "No conflict, White declares", The Globe and Mail (1936-2016); Toronto, Ont. [Toronto, Ont]07 Sep 1972: 5
  3. ^ "Scarborough gets Robert White as successor to Mayor Campbell", The Globe and Mail (1936-2016); Toronto, Ont. [Toronto, Ont]04 Oct 1969: 5.
  4. ^ "'Semi-swinger' Robert White succeeds Campbell as Scarborough mayor", Toronto Daily Star (1900-1971); Toronto, Ontario [Toronto, Ontario]04 Oct 1969: 6.
  5. ^ "BUILDING AND REAL ESTATE: Scarborough called Metro's last development frontier", Belford, Terrence. The Globe and Mail (1936-2016); Toronto, Ont. [Toronto, Ont]24 Mar 1972: B7
  6. ^ "Limousine no issue, but Mayor White's Halifax flight is something else", Coleman, Thomas. The Globe and Mail (1936-2016); Toronto, Ont. [Toronto, Ont]18 Nov 1972: 4.
  7. ^ "Voted out: it's always hard to explain", Baker, Alden. The Globe and Mail (1936-2016); Toronto, Ont. [Toronto, Ont]10 Oct 1978: 4.
  8. ^ "No conflict, White declares", The Globe and Mail (1936-2016); Toronto, Ont. [Toronto, Ont]07 Sep 1972: 5
  9. ^ "Council wrangle annoys Godfrey: O'Donohue, 2 ex-mayors get conservation posts", The Globe and Mail (1936-2016); Toronto, Ont. [Toronto, Ont]30 Jan 1974: 5