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United Farmers of Ontario

United Farmers of Ontario
Former provincial party
Founded 1914 (1914)
Dissolved 1934 as an official party
1940 as an unofficial party
1944 as an organization
Succeeded by Liberal-Progressives,
Ontario CCF
Ideology agrarianism, progressivism, populism, social democracy
Colours Green
Politics of Ontario
Political parties

The United Farmers of Ontario (UFO) was a political party in Ontario, Canada. It was the Ontario provincial branch of the United Farmers movement of the early part of the 20th century.


  • History 1
    • Foundation and rise (1914-1919) 1.1
    • Forming the government (1919-1923) 1.2
    • Decline (1923-1929) 1.3
    • End of the movement (1927-1940) 1.4
  • United Farmers Co-operative Company Grocers 2
  • UFO/Progressive leaders 3
  • UFO Secretaries 4
  • See also 5
  • Notes 6
  • External links 7


Foundation and rise (1914-1919)

Ernest C. Drury, UFO premier and leader.

The UFO was founded in 1914 by the union of various farmers' organizations that had been created over the previous fifteen years.[1]

  • Labour and Farmers in Ontario, 1919-1932
  • Canadian Encyclopedia entry
  • from Internet ArchiveThe Challenge of AgricultureUnited Farmers of Ontario,

External links

  1. ^ a b c d e f g Macpherson, Ian, "United Farmers of Ontario", The Canadian Encyclopedia
  2. ^ a b c
  3. ^ a b Labour and Farmers in Ontario 1919 - 1932, History of the NDP, accessed February 13, 2008
  4. ^ a b "Free-trader, writer and farmer, former Premier E.C. Drury dies" Globe and Mail, February 19, 1968
  5. ^ Oliver, Peter G. Howard Ferguson: Ontario Tory, Toronto and Buffalo: University of Toronto Press, 1977, p. 158
  6. ^ "Liberals busy, CCF active, other factions hold fire", Toronto Daily Star, July 19, 1935
  7. ^


See also

  1. J.J. Morrison, 1914–1933
  2. H.H. Hannam, 1933–1942

UFO Secretaries

+Leslie Warner Oke led a UFO rump of three MLAs from 1926 until 1929.

  1. E.C. Drury, 1919–1923
  2. O.T. Brazil, 1923-1924
  3. Manning Doherty, 1924–1925
  4. William Edgar Raney, 1925-1927+
  5. Johnny Giles, 1927–1929
  6. Harry Nixon, 1929–1934

UFO/Progressive leaders

Around 1919, the UFO hired Theodore Loblaw to help launch a chain of cooperative grocery stores, but the attempt failed and Loblaws left to start his own grocery chain.

United Farmers Co-operative Company Grocers

In 1940, Oliver, the last remaining UFO member of the legislature and a supporter of the Hepburn government since 1934, joined the Hepburn cabinet and became a Liberal. MacPhail lost her seat as the last United Farmers MP in the House of Commons in the 1940 election. She turned to provincial politics and won election to the Ontario legislature on behalf of the CCF in the 1943 provincial election while Oliver became Liberal Party leader in 1945.

[1] in and remains one of the largest farmer-owned United Co-operatives of Ontario In 1948 the United Farmers' Co-operative became the [1][7] In 1936, the United Farmers of Ontario, the United Farmers’ Co-operative Ltd., and various growers and other agricultural organizations formed the Ontario Chamber of Agriculture which, in 1940, became the

In the 1935 federal election, the UFO's provincial executive voted to endorse the new Reconstruction Party of Canada formed by H.H. Stevens however many local UFO groups backed the Co-operative Commonwealth Federation[6] and UFO MP Agnes MacPhail continued to work with the CCF on an informal basis. Other UFOers backed the Liberals. The Reconstruction Party won 11% of the vote in Ontario in the 1935 federal election, more than the CCF, but failed to win a seat in the province and only won 1 seat nationally.

By the mid-1930s, the UFO had become a lobby group who advocated through sitting UFO politicians such as Macphail and Farquhar Oliver, who were allowed to continue to run for office under the UFO banner.

In 1932, leading UFO member League for Social Reconstruction and the Ontario CCF.

Raney resigned from the legislature the next year in order to accept an appointment to the Supreme Court of Ontario and 72-year-old John Giles Lethbridge was chosen as the new leader of the Progressives. In the 1929 election, only five Progressives, one Labour and one UFO MLA won re-election. Lethbridge, like Raney in the previous election, campaigned largely on the issue of prohibition. After Lethbridge lost his seat in the 1929 election Harry Nixon, who had served as Provincial Secretary in Drury's government, became the leader of the remaining Progressives. In the early 1930s, Nixon and the Progressives agreed to an alliance with former UFO activist Mitchell Hepburn who, in 1930, became leader of the Liberal Party. A group of four Liberal-Progressive MLAs, led by Nixon, were elected in the 1934 election, who joined Hepburn to form a government and were ultimately absorbed into the Liberal Party. (see Liberal-Progressives (Ontario) for more information)

Farquhar Oliver, last UFO MLA in the provincial legislature.

End of the movement (1927-1940)

The 1926 provincial election reduced the farmer-labour contingent to thirteen Progressive MLAs and one Labour MLA (Homuth - who had broken with the Progressives and supported the government) while two new UFO MLAs, Thomas Farquhar and Farquhar Oliver joined Oke's faction. Several weeks after the election the UFO convention voted to formally cease running its own candidates though a handful of local UFO clubs continued to nominate candidates for some years.

The issue which dominated Ontario politics in the late 1920s was the Ferguson government's proposal to repeal the Ontario Temperance Act and replace prohibition with government control of liquor. The Liberals, were split on the issue - most of their MLAs were "dry" but some were "wets" who were opposed to prohibition. The Progressives under Raney, however, were adamantly in favour of prohibition and opposed to Ferguson's proposals. This led to an estrangement with Labour MLA Karl Homuth who supported Ferguson's proposals and would eventually join the Conservatives.

Eighteen months following the general election, William Raney became leader of what was now referred to as the "Progressive" bloc of MLAs which initially included Farmer and Labour MLAs. Leslie Oke and Beniah Bowman refused to accept the leadership of Raney, a non-farmer, and also disagreed with the creation of a "Progressive Party" which would include non-farmers - with the support of the Farmer's Sun, they insisted on continuing to sit as UFO members rather than with the Progressive group. Bowman resigned from the legislature in 1926 in order to enter federal politics.

Though the United Farmers of Ontario remained the second largest party in the legislature, they were denied Official Opposition status by Conservative premier Howard Ferguson. The position was instead given to the Liberals with W.E.N. Sinclair as Leader of the Opposition, despite the party having three fewer seats than the UFO. Morrison had previously announced that the UFO would be withdrawing from politics, which Ferguson had used as justification for the move. Manning Doherty, interim leader of the UFO caucus, could do nothing aside from win a ruling from the Speaker that, as leader of a caucus of more than 15 MLAs, he was entitled to an extra salary.[5]

Harry Nixon, the last leader of the Progressives.

Decline (1923-1929)

The party's base of farmer supporters began to turn away from the party, causing the Drury government to lose the election of 1923. A mere seventeen United Farmer and four Labour members returned to the legislature, compared to 75 Conservatives. Drury lost his own seat.

The government under Drury tried to be a "people's government" rather than a "class government" and argued for a "broadening out" of the party to include labour and others, but in so doing, alienated the base of the government's support, particularly farmers. The UFO government clashed with the UFO organization (led by James J. Morrison) which ultimately withdrew its support from the government.

Drury's Farmer-Labour government created the first Department of Welfare for the province and brought in allowances for widows and children, a minimum wage for women and standarized adoption procedures.[4] His government also expanded Ontario Hydro and promoted rural electification, created the Province of Ontario Savings Office - a provincially owned bank that was designed to lend money to farmers at a lower rate - began the first major reforestation program in North America, and initiated construction of the modern highway system. The government was also a strict enforcer of temperance measures. Drury also arranged for a grant for unknown researchers Frederick Banting and Charles Best who would go on to discover insulin.[1][4] The UFO was initially popular growing to 1,500 clubs and 60,000 members by 1920.[2]

Despite Morrison's objections, the UFO joined with 10 Independent Labour Party MLAs (an 11th ILP MLA, Morrison MacBride, broke with his colleagues and sat in Opposition) and one Independent to form a coalition government, with Drury as Premier and two of the ILP MLAs in the cabinet.[3] Morrison remained outside of the legislature and government as the general secretary of the UFO. Morrison opposed a number of the coalition's initiatives, perceiving the UFO's actions as a broad-based Progressive government rather than a "class-based" United Farmer government and believed that the party should not be in government but should hold the balance of power in order to force the government of the day to pass pro-farmer legislation.[3]

Forming the government (1919-1923)

As the United Farmers began as a single-issue party, Morrison opposed forming a government, believing that the party should concern itself solely with agricultural issues and that it would not be able to represent the entire province. Furthermore, he viewed the Independent Labour Party as inimical to farmers' interests and opposed a coalition with them to form a majority government. Morrison was offered the position of UFO caucus leader and Premier of Ontario following the election but declined as did Sir Adam Beck; the position instead went Ernest C. Drury.[1]

The UFO entered politics by contesting and winning a 1919 provincial election. The UFO platform called for the abolition of political patronage, better educational opportunities in rural areas, cheap electric power, conservation of forests, proportional representation and "direct legislation". The UFO also favoured prohibition and budgetary restraint, two platform planks that were at odds with the views of urban Labour supporters.[2] To the shock of everyone, including itself, when it won 45 seats and formed a coalition government with the support of Labour MLAs in the Legislative Assembly of Ontario despite having no leader.

to act as the organ of the UFO. The Farmer's Sun renaming it The Weekly Sun. In 1917, supporters of the UFO formed the Farmers' Publishing Company and purchased co-operatives, and legislation that would facilitate the operation of progressive taxation The UFO had a comprehensive farmer's platform that called for the nationalization of railways, [2]

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