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William Douglas Balfour


Amherstburg, Ont, M.P.P. for South Essex, was born in Forfarshire, Scotland, on 2nd August, 1851. He is a son of David Balfour, a member of a Kincardineshire family, and Janet Douglas. Mr. Balfour, sr., came to Canada about 1857, and engaged. in rail-roading. He is still living in the village of Allanburg; and Mrs. Balfour is like-wise living there. There were five of a family, the subject of this sketch being the eldest. William Douglas BaIfour received a Public school education, concluding his studies at the Grantham Academy, St. Catharines. At the age of fifteen he left school and engaged as a school teacher in the townships of Grantham and Louth, where he remained for five years. He then received the appointment of secretary of the St Catharines Board of Trade, and also that of librarian of the Mechanics’ Institute. In 1872, he established the St. Catharines daily and weekly News, in partnership with R. Matheson; and these two gentlemen continued the publication until 1874, when the firm dissolved. Mr. Balfour retiring in the same year. He then removed to Amherstburg, Essex, where he founded a weekly paper, in partnership with J. A. Auld, under

the firm name of Balfour & Auld, the paper being called the, Amherstburg Echo. This partnership continued until 1885, when a joint stock company was formed under the name of the Echo Printing Co., Mr. Balfour being president of the company, which position he retains still. In 1872, Mr. Balfour was elected a public school trustee for St. Patrick’s ward, St. Catharines, and retained this office for two years. After going to Amherstburg, in 1875, he was also elected a school trustee, and was re-elected for four successive years, during which time he was chairman of the board. In 1878, he was elected reeve of the town of Amherstburg, and served as chairman of the finance and educational committees of the county council, as well as auditor of the criminal justice accounts. He was also chairman of the finance committee of the town council of Amherstburg. In 1883 after his election to the LegisIative Assembly of Ontario, he retired from the Council of Amherstburg. In 1879, he contested the eIection for South Essex in the local house, with Lewis Wigle, M. P., and was defeated. In 1882, when Mr. Wigle was elected to the Commons, Mr Balfour contested the same riding with Peter Wright, reeve of Colchester South, Essex, in the bye-election, and was elected, in the Reform interest, by a majority of seventy-two votes. At the general election of 1883, he defeated Thomas B. White, reeve of Anderdon, by a majority of thirty-four votes. On first appearing in the house in 1882, Mr. Balfour moved the address in reply to the speech from the throne, and has since served on the following committees, viz: Public accounts, printing, municipal, railways, and private bills. Mr. Balfour, we may state, it was who introduced the bill which has been considerably discussed through the press, viz., that providing for the admission of Delos R. Davis, (coloured) of Colchester, to the bar of Ontario. Although persistently opposed, Mr. Balfour successfully carried his point, in the face of pronounced opposition by the legal fraternity, under the aegis of the law society. He has also carried on a vigorous crusade for the abolition of toll roads, and has already secured some legislation in that direction, as well as approval from both sides of the house. Mr.  Balfour has also introduced and carried through several amendments to the Municipal Act. He has been a rnember of the Oddfellows, and. has been, for ten years, a director of the South Essex and Anderdon and Malden Agricultural societies; has served as president of both, and is now a director of the South Essex Farmers’ Institute. In 1868, be was secretary of the Y.M.C.A., at St. Catharines, and continued for some six yean in that connection, besides being secretary at the provincial convention held at Belleville, in 1872. ln politics Mr. Balfour is a Liberal Reformer, and is a member of the Reform Club, of Toronto. He was for eight years secretary of the South Essex Liberal Association and for the Iast eleven yean has delivered numerous campaign speeches in the interests of his party, through his own section of the country. We may add that he was conspicuous in the late "bribery conspiracy," which has been ventilated through the press of the country, and tried in the courts. In that case, of course, Mr. Balfour appears as a man of integrity and honour. In political work Mr. Balfour takes the deepest interest. He has the advantage of being thoroughly well informed upon current political history, and as his ability as a  debater is very pronounced, he frequently joins very effectively in debate. To get the "ear of the house" is a very high compliment to bestow upon a speaker; but it is noteworthy that when Mr. Balfour is upon his feet, the house assumes an attitude of attentive listening. The chief speech, perhaps, delivered by him in the house was that, in 1885, in defense of Mr. Mowat’s Redistribution Bill. Mr. Balfour is a Presbyterian. He married, in 1876, Josephine, eldest daughter of the late Colonel T. F. Brodhead, of Grosse Isle, Michigan, U. S., who was commander of the Michigan Cavalry Brigade, and who met a soldier’s death at the field of Manassas, in Virginia. By this lady, Mr. Balfour has a family of  five children.


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