Writing conversation

Mitch Hepburn

by Neil McKenty


This is not the Life and Times of Mitchell Hepburn, Premier of Ontario from 1934 to 1942. The materials for a work of that scope are unavail­able if, indeed, some of them exist at all. Neither is it a portrait of Ontario’s eleventh Premier. The social and economic frame for a full portrait is lacking. Rather, the book is intended to be a political profile of the man who has been considered one of the most colourful Premiers in the province’s history.

The profile developed from research into Hepburn’s victory in the Ontario election of 1934 carried out at the University of Toronto under the direction of Dr. John T. Say well, now Dean of Arts and Science at York University. To expand that into a book seemed an interesting chal­lenge and Centennial project because so little has been written concerning Ontario’s Premiers.

Some of the problems raised in Mitch Hepburn require further re­search and development. The lack of certain material made this inevitable. Fortunately, the raw material for an interesting story was available. The main thing, it seemed to me, was to tell that story interestingly. Others will more fully analyze Mitchell Hepburn’s motives, assess his record, and estimate his place in Canada’s history. My primary aim was to sketch a profile of the man in action.

Professor Ramsay Cook of the University of Toronto read the entire manuscript, as did Richard M. Alway who has done extensive research on the Hepburn period. Professor H. Blair Neatby of Carleton University read portions of it. I am grateful for their suggestions. The staffs of the Provincial Archives of Ontario and the Public Archives of Canada were invariably helpful. I am also indebted to the Centennial Commission for a grant of $1,500.

That the book was completed is due most of all to the generosity of Canada’s English-speaking Jesuits, particularly the Jesuit Provincial, the Reverend Angus J. Macdougall. The Jesuits provided financial support and freedom from other duties for research and writing. My thanks, also, to those many friends whose enthusiasm for the project exceeded my ability to do it justice.

I hope that students will find the book useful, and that the general reader, especially those Mitch Hepburn affectionately referred to as “the people on the back concessions,” will find it enjoyable.

N. McKenty

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