William Howard Hearst

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William Howard Hearst
William Hearst.jpg
The Hon. Sir William Hearst
7th Premier of Ontario
In office
October 2, 1914 – November 14, 1919
Monarch George V
Lieutenant Governor John Strathearn Hendrie
Preceded by James Whitney
Succeeded by Ernest Charles Drury
MPP for Sault Ste. Marie
In office
June 8, 1908 – September 23, 1919
Preceded by Charles Napier Smith
Succeeded by James Cunningham
Personal details
Born (1864-02-15)February 15, 1864
Arran Township, Canada West
Died September 29, 1941(1941-09-29) (aged 77)
Toronto, Ontario
Resting place Mount Pleasant Cemetery, Toronto
Political party Ontario PC Party
Spouse(s) Isabella Jane Duncan
Religion Methodist, United Church

Sir William Howard Hearst, KCMG (February 15, 1864 – September 29, 1941) was the seventh Premier of the Canadian province of Ontario from 1914 to 1919.

Early years[edit]

Sir William Howard Hearst was born in the township of Arran in Bruce County, Ontario. He studied law at Osgoode Hall, Toronto, and became a lawyer in 1888. Hearst moved to Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario, where he opened up a law firm called Hearst, McKay and Darling in the Ganley Block at 604 Queen Street.[1] Hearst participated actively in the Sault Ste. Marie community; he was on the building committee to erect a new Methodist church at the corner of Spring Street and Albert Street in Sault Ste. Marie.[2] The Methodist church that was eventually built still stands and is now Central United Church. He was an unsuccessful candidate in Algoma East in 1894. In 1902 he organized support in Northern Ontario for James P. Whitney. Hearst was also appointed Sault Ste. Marie's volunteer fire chief from 1891-1892.[3] Hearst built a house at the corner of Queen Street and Upton Road, known as Eastbourne, which would go on to become a designated heritage property in the City of Sault Ste. Marie.[4]

In 1908 Hearst was elected member for the riding of Sault Ste. Marie. In 1911 he became Minister of Forests and Mines. On the death of James P. Whitney in 1914, Hearst became his successor and was sworn in as Premier on October 2, 1914.

Premier of Ontario[edit]

Under his administration a comprehensive measure to provide compensation to workers for injuries was put into operation. He took steps to deal with housing problems and provide loans to settlers. Municipal acts were passed. School fairs and teaching of agriculture were inaugurated. Measures were taken to increase war production. Reforestation and fire prevention services were established. And the Orpington Hospital in England was built as a gift of the people of Ontario.

In 1916, the Ontario Temperance Act (OTA) was introduced as a temporary wartime measure by Hearst, a temperance advocate and pillar of the Methodist church. It made possession of liquor and beer outside one's home illegal. Although one could retain a 'cellar supply' for personal consumption, it was illegal to sell a drink. As a result, the government closed bars, taverns, clubs and liquor stores.

His government passed legislation to permit women to vote in provincial elections, and held a plebiscite on prohibition. The plebiscite was held the same day as the 1919 general election. While prohibition was approved by the voters, the Hearst government was unexpectedly defeated by the United Farmers of Ontario party in their first election. He resumed his law practice in Toronto after his term as premier.

After politics[edit]

Hearst served as a member of the International Joint Commission formed to settle international boundary waters disputes between the United States and Canada.


A street in Sault Ste. Marie has been named after him. A city streets directory from 1914 shows the street was previously called "Hurst Street",[5] but by 1915, the year after Hearst became Premier of Ontario, the name was changed to "Hearst Street".[6]

The town of Hearst, in Northern Ontario, is named for William Hearst.

A street in Northyork at the intersection of Keele and wilson is named after him.

Sir William Hearst Ave

Ministry of Transportation Offices and New Humber River Hospital on this street.

A plaque honouring Sir William H. Hearst stands in Tara Park in the Municipality of Arran–Elderslie in Bruce County. It was erected by the Ontario Archeological and Historic Sites Board.[7]

In July 2015, the City of Sault Ste. Marie recognized Hearst by naming the holiday on the first Monday in August (previously known as Civic Holiday) as Sir William H. Hearst Day.[8]

Further reading[edit]

  • Middletown, Jesse Edgar (1923). The Municipality of Toronto - A History III. Toronto: Dominion Publishing. p. 67. OCLC 9709767. 
  • Oliver, Peter. "Sir William Hearst and the collapse of the Ontario Conservative Party". Public and Private Persons: The Ontario Political Culture, 1914-1934. Toronto: Clarke Irwin. pp. 16–43. OCLC 2525531. 
  • Dubro, James; Rowland, Robin F. (1987). King of the Mob: Rocco Perri and the women who ran his rackets. Toronto: Penguin Books. ISBN 0-14-009823-2. 
  • Rocco Perri Scrapbook (Hamilton Herald Newspaper articles) 12 April 1927, 14, 16, 18 August 1930


External links[edit]

Non-profit organization positions
Preceded by
C.H. Mitchell
President of the Empire Club of Canada
Succeeded by
Elias H. Wilkinson