Old Man Ontario: Leslie M. Frost
For most of the twentieth century, Progressive Conservatives have governed Ontario. One of the great consolidators of the Ontario Tory dynasty was Leslie Frost, premier from 1949 to 1961. This biography explores the life and career of one of the province's most successful politicians.
Frost was born in Orillia, in central Ontario, in 1895. He served in the First World War, was severely wounded, and underwent a lengthy convalescence. In 1921 he graduated from Osgoode Hall and established a law practice in Lindsay with his brother. He became an active member of the Conservative party and was elected to the provincial legislature in 1937, during the years of Liberal government under Mitchell Hepburn. When the Conservatives came into power in 1943, Premier George Drew appointed Frost provincial treasurer and minister of mines. Six years later, when Drew stepped down as party leader, Frost succeeded him.
Personally genial and politically pragmatic, Frost consciously exemplified the values of small-town Ontario. He led his party through three elections and swept to victory each time. During his term in office Ontario underwent enormous economic development. His government initiated progressive legislation in health, education, and human rights, and encouraged growth in the private sector through fiscal policy and public investment. Ironically, the burgeoning economy that was fuelled by Frost's programs led to a dramatic increase in urbanization and a substantial erosion of the small-town values on which his political image was built.
But that small irony did no political harm to him or to the Tories. When he stepped down as party leader and premier in 1961 he handed over to John Robarts the reins of a party that was not to be shaken from power for another quarter of a century.
- Series: Heritage
- World Rights
- Page Count: 498 pages
- Dimensions: 6.1in x 1.2in x 9.0in
Author InformationRoger Graham (1919-1988) was Douglas Professor of Canadian History at Queen's University.
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