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SIR OLIVER MOWAT (1820-1903)

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Originally appearing in Volume V18, Page 948 of the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica.
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SIR OLIVER MOWAT (1820-1903), Canadian judge and statesman (Q.C. 1856, LL.D. 1872, K.C.M.G. 1892, G.C.M.G. 1897), was the son of John Mowat, who fought in the Peninsular War under Sir Arthur Wellesley (afterwards duke of Wellington). Born at Kingston, Ontario, on the 22nd of July, 182o, he was educated by private tuition and in 1836 began the study of law under Mr.(afterwards the Rt Hon. Sir) John A. Macdonald. Called to the bar in 1841, he soon became a leading Chancery counsel and in 1856 " took silk." He entered parliament in 1858 as a Liberal and in 1863 became postmaster-general. He took a prominent part in the proceedings of the Quebec Conference of 1864, which settled the terms of the Confederation of the British North American provinces, and in the same year was appointed vice-chancellor of Upper Canada. Eight years afterwards (1872) the Hon. Edward Blake resigned the premier-ship of the province of Ontario, and Mowat was called to fill the vacant post. He continued to be premier of Ontario until the 13th of July 1896. Assisted by able colleagues and holding always a strong majority in the house, he gave to Ontario a * The horn may be so played, by forcing the breath in a certain manner, that its timbre approximates to that of the trumpet. Rudall, Carte & Co. Mouthpiece. a, The mouthpiece, , the position of the bore inside being indicated by dot- ted lines. b, The single- or beating-reed. body of laws many of which have been copied by other provinces of the dominion and by several states of the American Union. In eight important cases which he argued before the Judicial Committee of H.M. Privy Council, he established, as against the contention of Sir John A. Macdonald, the proposition that the provincial legislatures were co-ordinate with and not subordinate to the parliament of Canada. To weaken his influence the Conservatives at Ottawa attempted to extend the boundaries of Manitoba, thereby reducing the area of Ontario; but Mr Mowat again appealed to the Judicial Committee and was again successful. According to Sir John A. Macdonald, Ontario con- tained under the " Quebec Act " only 116,782 sq. m.; but Mr Mowat gave it an area of 260,862 sq. m. When he returned home after this great victory he received an ovation unparalleled in the history of any Canadian statesman. One of his prominent characteristics was his loyalty to Britain. Between 1886 and 1896 Canadian trade was depressed, and men were leaving the country in thousands for the United States. Dr Goldwin Smith and other prominent men advocated commercial union with the United States, viz. that the two countries should maintain a uniform tariff against the rest of the world, with free trade as between themselves. Sir Oliver Mowat saw in this " veiled annexation," and by letters, speeches and pamphlets he crushed the movement so completely as to make his party more imperialist than the Conservatives had ever been. In July 1896 he was called to the senate of Canada and made minister of justice. In November 1897 he was appointed lieutenant-governor of his native province, and this office he held until he died at Government House, Toronto, on the 19th of April 1903. See C. R. W. Biggar, Sir Oliver Mowat, a Biographical Sketch (Toronto, 1905). (C. R. W. B.)
End of Article: SIR OLIVER MOWAT (1820-1903)

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