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Thomas Urquhart, Mayor of Toronto, Canada 1903-04-05
Posted by: Wm Craig Laurence (ID *****9581) Date: March 21, 2005 at 16:33:54
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Thomas Urquhart was born April 16, 1858 in Wallacetown, Dunwich Twp., Elgin County, Ontario to parents Alexander Cameron Urquhart and Sarah McCallum. His father Alexander, born in Dingwall, Ross and Cromarty, Scotland, was a pioneer tailor and storekeeper in Wallacetown, who came to Canada in 1847. Young Thomas attended public school in Wallacetown until 13 years of age and then spent years working with his father. At 21, Thomas was appointed municipal clerk of the Township of Dunwich, and later became secretary of the Agricultural Society of West Elgin and secretary of the West Elgin Reform Association. He decided to enter law, and after passing the matriculation examination in 1881, he entered a law office in St. Thomas. In 1882 he entered a second law as a student. In 1886 he graduated from Osgoode Hall as barrister and solicitor, and entered into different partnerships over the next many years. One partnership was with his brother Daniel Urquhart. Thomas took a strong role in civic affairs, and was elected alderman in Torontoís Ward 4 in 1900 and re-elected in 1901-2, prior to being elected to the mayorís chair for three successive years. Thomas was elected mayor in 1903 over Oliver Howland and Daniel Lamb. In 1904 he was re-elected by acclamation, and in 1905 he defeated George H Gooderham. A strong liberal, he was chosen by his party to contest the riding of West Toronto for the legislature against Hon. Thomas Crawford. In 1904, he contested the riding of North Toronto for Parliament against Sir George Foster. In 1906, he ran unsuccessfully against W. K. McNaught. While he was the mayor, he always guarded against encroachments of corporations to destroy the cityís sovereignty over itís own streets. During that time, many applications were made by electric railway companies for franchises in adjoining municipalities, and it was feared the Toronto Street Railway Co. would acquire a perpetual franchise in Toronto. He watched every move made and succeeded in keeping Toronto free of entanglements. Thomas attended the first meeting in Berlin (now Kitchener) regarding the proposals to establish the hydroelectric system, and he also advocated public ownership of telephones. The great Toronto fire of 1904 occurred during his time as mayor. Thomas was also a leader in the Toronto Baptist community, active in both the Walmer Road Baptist Church and the Aurora Baptist Church. He was first married to Margaret S. McDonald of Peterborough, and after her death in 1925 he married Mary Ellen Hall in 1927. After taking ill at his office, Thomas Urquhart was taken to his home at 136 Hillsdale Avenue were he died on February 16, 1931 from influenza. He was buried in Mt. Pleasant Cemetery on February 18th.

References: Obituaries from newspapers The Dutton Advance, The Toronto Evening Telegram and The Toronto Star. My personal genealogy research.

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