It is not unusual to hear people say that politically, Ontario stops at Kingston; Cornwall and SDG are forgotten. The facts however, make a lie to this accusation. Throughout the twentieth century, our part of Eastern Ontario was a political powerhouse both provincially and federally, producing one Premier, one Prime Minister, a number of cabinet ministers in both Toronto and Ottawa, and two High Commissioners to Britain.
The century started off with lawyer Sir James Pliny Whitney from Willamsburg Township in Dundas County. He was first elected under the Conservative banner for the County in 1887; he served as Premier of Ontario from 1905 – 15.
George Challies, a trained pharmacist from Winchester, was elected to represent Grenville-Dundas in Toronto in 1929 – 55. Two years later he was made Provincial Secretary, then Minister of Games and Fisheries, Minister without Portfolio, First Vice-Chairman of Ontario Hydro and finally Chairman of the St. Lawrence Parks Commission from 1955 – 62.A diligent legislator, the “Globe and Mail,” reported “…that (he) would rather settle down with a bundle of blueprints for an evening than with the best novel.”
Chesterville born and Second World War SD & G Highlander veteran Frederick McIntosh Cass had roots going back to the McIntosh’s of apple fame. A lawyer, Cass was elected Progressive-Conservative member of the Ontario Legislature in 1955 for Grenville-Dundas, a seat he held until he retired in 1971. An important member of the Ontario Conservative’s “Big Blue Machine,” Cass served as Minister of Highways; Municipal Affairs; Attorney-General and Speaker of the Legislature.
From Apple Hill, Progressive Fern Guindon was elected to the Provincial Legislature for Glengarry in 1957 and thereafter for Stormont. He served as Minister without Portfolio; Tourism and Industry, Labour and as Chairman of the St. Lawrence Parks Commission. Ultra-conservative war veteran Donald R. Irvine from Brinston, was elected Progressive-Conservative M.P.P. for Grenville-Dundas in 1971. In Toronto, he occupied the posts of Minister without Portfolio for Intergovernmental Affairs and Minister of Housing.
Noble Villeneuve from Moose Creek was first elected the United Counties Conservative “flag-bearer” in 1983 In Toronto, Villeneuve served as Minister without Portfolio; Agriculture and Minister Responsible for Francophone Affairs.
Cornwall lawyer Robert Smith was elected M.P. for Stormont County in 1908 he served as a director of the Montreal and Cornwall Navigation Company and Lt-Colonel of the 59th Bn (SD & G Highlanders).
One of the most influential local federal politicians was the Hon. Lionel Chevrier, first elected to represent Stormont in 1935, he served the constituency as Minister of Transport and President of the St. Lawrence Seaway Authority before he was elected to a seat in Montreal. It has often been said that if the Liberals did not alternate their leaders between and English and French, that he could have been Prime Minister.
While not a local man, the region’s most illustrious politician, Prime Minister William Lyon Mackenzie represented the safe seat of Glengarry from 1945 – 48.
Liberal Lucien Lamoureux was born in Ottawa, but became familiar with Cornwall working for Lionel Chevrier. Lamoureux opened his law office here in 1954 and represented Stormont from 1962. He gained national prominence as an Independent Speaker of the House of Commons in 1966.
Entrepreneur and Cornwall mayor Ed Lumley from Windsor was selected to the House of Commons for Stormont-Dundas in 1974. He became Minister of State (Trade); International Trade; Industry, Trade and Commerce and Regional Economic Expansion; Regional Industrial Expansion; Communications; and Science and Technology.
The citation provided by the Governor-General’s office on the occasion of Lumley’s 2015 investiture into the order of Canada, provides a concise description of his career.
He was awarded the honour “For serving his community and country notably as its federal minister of Industry.”
Ed Lumley is known for his business acumen for the public good. A successful business entrepreneur, he served as mayor of Cornwall before being elected to Parliament. There, he held key cabinet positions including minister of Industry, Trade and Commerce, where he initiated the Canada-United States Free Trade discussions and helped create more jobs for Canadians. Since leaving politics, he has continued to give back, serving on the board of several prominent Canadian companies and as Chancellor of the University of Windsor.
Liberal Career politician Don Boudria, was elected M.P. for Glengarry-Prescott-Russel l in 1984.He was named Minister for International Cooperation; for La Francophonie; Public Works and Government Services and finally of State.
Internationally both Lionel Chevrier and Jean Casselman Wadds served as High Commissioners to Britain