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Edward Blake

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Title: Edward Blake  
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Subject: Oliver Mowat, Liberal Party of Canada, List of federal by-elections in Canada, Blake, Cassels & Graydon, John A. Macdonald
Collection: 1833 Births, 1912 Deaths, Anti-Parnellite Mps, Canadian Anglicans, Canadian People of Anglo-Irish Descent, Canadian Queen's Counsel, Chancellors of the University of Toronto, Irish Parliamentary Party Mps, Lawyers in Ontario, Leaders of the Liberal Party of Canada, Leaders of the Ontario Liberal Party, Leaders of the Opposition (Canada), Members of the House of Commons of Canada from Ontario, Members of the Parliament of the United Kingdom for Irish Constituencies (1801–1922), Members of the Queen's Privy Council for Canada, Persons of National Historic Significance (Canada), Premiers of Ontario, Treasurers of the Law Society of Upper Canada, Uk Mps 1892–95, Uk Mps 1895–1900, Uk Mps 1900–06, Uk Mps 1906–10, Upper Canada College Alumni
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Edward Blake

The Honourable
Dominick Edward Blake
The Hon. Dominick Edward Blake
2nd Premier of Ontario
In office
December 20, 1871 – October 25, 1872
Monarch Victoria
Lieutenant Governor William Pearce Howland
Preceded by John Sandfield Macdonald
Succeeded by Oliver Mowat
Personal details
Born (1833-10-13)October 13, 1833
Adelaide Township, Upper Canada
Died March 1, 1912(1912-03-01) (aged 78)
Toronto, Ontario
Political party Ontario Liberal Party
Other political
Liberal Party of Canada
Irish Parliamentary Party (Anti-Parnellite)[1]
Spouse(s) Margaret Cronyn
Relations William Hume Blake, father
Benjamin Cronyn, father-in-law
George MacKinnon Wrong, son-in-law
H. H. Wrong, grandson
Religion Anglican

Dominick Edward Blake, PC, QC (October 13, 1833 – March 1, 1912), known as Edward Blake, was the second Premier of Ontario, Canada, from 1871 to 1872 and leader of the Liberal Party of Canada from 1880 to 1887. He is one of only three federal permanent Liberal leaders never to become Prime Minister of Canada, the others being Stéphane Dion and the latter's immediate successor Michael Ignatieff. He may be said to have served in the national politics of what developed as the affairs of three nationalities: Canadian, British, and Irish. Blake was also the founder, in 1856, of the Canadian law firm now known as Blake, Cassels & Graydon LLP.


  • Early years 1
  • Political career 2
  • Contributions to Canadian federalism 3
  • Family 4
  • References 5
  • External links 6

Early years

Blake was born in 1833, in Adelaide Township, Upper Canada (Ontario) the son of William Hume Blake and Catherine Honoria Hume, and was educated at Upper Canada College.[2]

In 1856, after Blake was called to the bar, he entered into partnership with Stephen M. Jarvis in Toronto to practice law. When his brother Samuel Hume Blake joined soon thereafter, it was Blake & Blake and today the firm is known as Blake, Cassels & Graydon LLP.[3]

As a consequence of the ruling of the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council in Long v The Bishop of Cape Town,[4] Blake offered a legal opinion to His Lordship, The Rt. Rev'd Benjamin Cronyn, the Bishop of Huron, on the legality of the convening of a Provincial Synod of the various Diocese of the Ecclesiastical Province of Canada by the Metropolitan, the Archbishop of Montreal. He determined that the concurrence of all of the Diocese of the Ecclesiastical Province would be required prior to the creation of the Provincial Synod and therefore no Synod could legally be convened until the entity first existed. This opinion was read into the Minutes of the seventh session of the Synod of the Diocese of Huron, which convened June 21, 22, and 23, 1864, by The Rt. Rev'd Benjamin Cronyn, Bishop of Huron.[5]

Political career

Blake was recruited into active politics by Ontario Liberal Party in 1868 and premier in 1871, but left provincial politics to run in the 1872 federal election, in which he was re-elected. The "dual mandate" rule that allowed a politician to sit simultaneously in a provincial and federal house had been abolished, and Blake chose to abandon his career in provincial politics. He played a major role in exposing the government of Sir John A. Macdonald's complicity in the Pacific Scandal forcing the government's resignation. Blake was offered the prime ministership, but turned it down due to ill health.

When the Liberals won the subsequent 1874 federal election, Blake joined the cabinet of Prime Minister Alexander Mackenzie and served as Minister of Justice and President of the Queen's Privy Council for Canada.

From 1876 to 1900, he was the chancellor of the University of Toronto.

The Liberals were defeated in the 1878 election, and Blake succeeded Mackenzie as party leader in 1880. He failed to defeat Macdonald's Conservatives in the 1882 or 1887 elections. Blake resigned as Liberal leader in 1887, recruiting Wilfrid Laurier as his successor, and left the Canadian House of Commons in 1891.

In the 1892 election, Blake entered the British House of Commons as an Irish Nationalist Member of Parliament (MP) for the constituency of South Longford in the centre of Ireland. He served until 1907 when he resigned following a stroke and retired to Canada.

Contributions to Canadian federalism

He is perhaps best remembered for the arguments he made to the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council in favour of the Provinces in interpreting the British North America Act. In 1888 he argued the case of St. Catherines Milling v. The Queen, where the federal government was claiming the right to issue timber licenses. This speech was quoted in its entirety in the 1960 report of the Quebec Royal Commission of Inquiry on Constitutional Problems, which influenced many Quebecers including René Lévesque:

He won the case and the Privy Council consistently afterwards took the side of the provinces.


Mrs Margaret Blake wife of Edward Blake

Edward Blake married Margaret Cronyn, the daughter of the Right Rev. Dr. Cronyn, Lord Bishop of Huron, and his wife, Margaret Ann (Bickerstaff) in 1856. She was born in 1835 and was educated at London, Ontario and in Toronto. Mrs. Blake practiced benevolent and other useful work. She was a member of the Toronto Ladies' Educational Association and served as the Honorary President of the Canadian Branch of the McAll Association in Toronto. She also frequently accompanied her husband on his political tours. The couple had seven children, four of whom survived them.[7]


  1. ^ "Reception to Edward Blake, M.P." (PDF). The New York Times. February 9, 1894. Retrieved 2009-02-08. 
  2. ^  
  3. ^ "Annual Review 2005/06: Making History" (PDF). Blake, Cassels & Graydon LLP. 
  4. ^ The Rev William Long v The Right Rev Robert Gray, Lord Bishop of Cape Town, Cape of Good Hope (1863) 1 Moo NS 411, 15 ER 756 (13 February), PC (UK)
  5. ^ "Seventh Session (1864)". Proceedings [afterw.] Journal of the synod (of the Church of England). First (-fortieth, forty-second - forty-fourth, sixty-seventh, seventy-first, seventy-third - seventy-sixth, eightieth) session. Diocese of Huron. 1868. p. 93. 
  6. ^ Edward Blake (1888). The St. Catharine's Milling and Lumber Company v. the Queen: Argument of Mr. Blake, of counsel for Ontario. Toronto: Press of the Budget. p. 6. 
  7. ^ Henry James Morgan (1903). Types of Canadian women and of women who are or have been connected with Canada I. Toronto: William Briggs. p. 29. 

External links

  • "Edward Blake".  
  • Ontario Legislative Assembly Parliamentarian History
  • Edward Blake – Parliament of Canada biography
  • Ronan O'Brien, "An Irishman's Diary", Irish Times, 13 August 2007 (subscription required)
  • Ontario's Historical Plaques
  • The University of Toronto Archives and Record Management Services holds Edward Blake's papers.
  •  "Blake, William Hume".  
Party political offices
Preceded by
Archibald McKellar
Leader of the Ontario Liberal Party
Succeeded by
Oliver Mowat
Preceded by
Alexander Mackenzie
Leader of the Liberal Party of Canada
Succeeded by
Wilfrid Laurier
Political offices
Preceded by
Leader of the Opposition in the
Ontario Legislature

Succeeded by
Matthew Crooks Cameron
Preceded by
John Sandfield Macdonald
Premier of Ontario
Succeeded by
Oliver Mowat
Preceded by
Télesphore Fournier
Minister of Justice
Succeeded by
T. A. R. Laflamme
Preceded by
Joseph Édouard Cauchon
President of the Privy Council
Succeeded by
John O'Connor
Preceded by
Alexander Mackenzie
Leader of the Opposition
Succeeded by
Wilfrid Laurier
Parliament of Canada
Preceded by
MP for Durham West, ON
Succeeded by
Edmund Burke Wood
Preceded by
MPP For Durham West
Succeeded by
John McLeod
Preceded by
MPP For Bruce South
Succeeded by
Rupert Wells
Preceded by
Francis Hurdon
MP for Bruce South, ON
Succeeded by
Alexander Shaw
Preceded by
Harvey William Burk
MP for Durham West, ON
Succeeded by
Robert Beith
Parliament of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
James Gubbins Fitzgerald
Member of Parliament for South Longford
Succeeded by
John Phillips
Academic offices
Preceded by
Joseph Curran Morrison
Chancellor of the University of Toronto
Succeeded by
William Ralph Meredith
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