William Holmes Howland (1844–1893)
The Sash Our Forefathers Wore
William Holmes Howland was born in Etobicoke in 1844. His father, William Pearce Howland, became Member of Parliament for York West in 1857, and was one of the Fathers of Confederation.
William attended Upper Canada College and, thanks to his father’s connections quickly became a prominent businessman, directing or presiding over more than a dozen companies by the 1870s.
In the 1870s, William became a strong advocate for policies that would protect Canadian industry and trade, which aligned him with Sir John A. Macdonald’s Conservatives. He was a member of the Loyal Orange Order, and chairman of the imperialist Canada First movement.
A deeply religious man, William was active in Protestant evangelical affairs. He became staunch supporter of the anti-alcohol temperance movement in 1877, and took an interest in prison and school reforms.
In 1886, William was elected Mayor of Toronto after running on a moral reform platform and appealing to the growing labour movement. His two-year stint in office was marked by several riots and labour difficulties.
After declining to run again in 1888, Howland began to return to his reform activities, but died of pneumonia in 1893 at the age of 49.
With information from the Black Creek Pioneer Village.
William Holmes Howland (Photo: Black Creek Pioneer Village).