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Elections in Oxford County, 1837-1875

Elections in Oxford County, 1837-1875: A Case Study of Democracy in Canada West and Early Ontario

Copyright Date: 2012
Pages: 224
  • Book Info
    Elections in Oxford County, 1837-1875
    Book Description:

    Elections in Oxford County, 1837-75breaks new ground with its detailed treatment of the county's voice-vote method of election, which ended with the adoption of the secret ballot in 1874.

    eISBN: 978-1-4426-9909-0
    Subjects: History, Political Science

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Maps and Tables
    (pp. vii-viii)
  4. Acknowledgments
    (pp. ix-x)
  5. Prologue
    (pp. xi-2)

    This book explores Canadian democracy in the mid-nineteenth century through a case study of thirty-eight Oxford County elections. Its objective begs the questions of what democracy is and why it matters in Canadaʹs present, and what it was and how it mattered a century and a half ago.

    Democracymeans government by ʹthe peopleʹ – the whole population in a given jurisdiction. A maximally developedparliamentary democracyhas citizens, not subjects. ʹThe peopleʹ govern themselves through their elected representatives; their elected representatives possess executive powers; the electorate comprises the adult population; an elector can vote once only in a given...

  6. 1 The Oxford Ridings and Structures for Their Elections
    (pp. 3-25)

    This chapter outlines the setting for elections in Oxford County. It introduces the county and its ridings; describes the statutory framework for Oxfordʹs electorate, candidates, and electoral administration; discusses developments in local government and the civil service that had relevance for provincial elections; and surveys the evolution of the voice-vote method of election.

    Oxford County is located in the heart of Ontarioʹs southwestern peninsula (see Figure 1.1). ʹThe land of the County,ʹ noted the 1852Oxford Gazetteer, ʹis neither too flat nor too hilly, but beautifully rolling, and although it is an inland County with neither ports nor harbours, it...

  7. 2 Ethnicity, Social Class, and Orangemen in Oxford County
    (pp. 26-43)

    Votersʹ choices of candidate in Oxford elections were clustered by social groups, some of which mattered more than others. These clustered differences, in turn, affected the electoral tallies for democratic issues such as the governorʹs prerogatives, the disposition of revenue from the Clergy Reserves, and the status of publicly funded sectarian schools.

    This chapter opens with discussion of ethnicity and social class as historically grounded concepts. It then gives examples of social groups in the Oxfords to lay groundwork for the bookʹs findings about social influences on electors. As demonstrated through quantitative analysis in Chapters 4, 6, and 7, ethno-religious...

  8. 3 Elections in Oxford County, 1838–1848
    (pp. 44-61)

    Two fundamentals of democracy are that ʹthe peopleʹ govern themselves through their elected representatives and that their elected representatives possess executive powers. The Province of Canada had the first of these tenets, an elective Legislative Assembly dating from 1791, but the second, control of executive powers, was a fiercely contested, unresolved issue during the 1840s.

    Control of executive powers was the overriding issue in Oxford County elections held during the years 1838 to 1848. Oxfordʹs High Tories wanted democracy stalled. They defended a ʹsquire-and-parsonʹ hierarchical model of society, with establishment churches and the governorʹs prerogatives and control of patronage. The...

  9. 4 The General Election in Oxford County, 1851
    (pp. 62-84)
    J.C. Herbert Emery

    Oxfordʹs 1851 general election turned on key aspects of democracy: the separation of church and state, the franchise, and the elective principle. The major issue was a proposal to secularize revenue from the Clergy Reserves. Opposition to publicly funded denominational schools was an associated issue, although not a prominent one in this election. Other issues, proposed by an ascendant Clear Grit movement, were democratic reforms such as an extension of the franchise, the adoption of the secret ballot, the transformation of the Upper House into an elective body, and the election rather than appointment of county officials.

    The election captured...

  10. 5 Elections in the Ridings of North Oxford and South Oxford, 1854–1858
    (pp. 85-109)

    The years 1852 to 1858 brought momentous changes to elections in Oxford. First, the county was smaller, having been shorn of 2.5 townships of territory (Burford, Oakland, and West Nissouri). Second, the county riding was gone; in its place were two ridings, North Oxford and South Oxford. Third, the 1857 general elections¹ and the 1858 by-elections introduced an extension of the franchise: a qualification for tenants and occupants of property in townships; hitherto the township franchise had required ownership of property. Fourth, the county had its first Upper House election, for the Gore Division, in 1858. Fifth, a major realignment...

  11. 6 Elections in the Ridings of North and South Oxford, 1860–1866
    (pp. 110-135)

    This chapter extends the bookʹs exploration of the extent, forms, practices, and issues of democracy into nine elections of the early 1860s. The major change for democracy, a positive one, was the introduction of the assessment franchise with judicially certified electorsʹ lists in the 1861 general elections.

    Otherwise, the elections of the 1860s carried forward and in some cases developed further, electoral features from the late 1850s. Once again the candidates in these elections were prominent Toronto politicians, to an extent unique in Canada West. With one exception (Isaac Buchanan in 1861), they were party men, whose political parties were...

  12. 7 Provincial and Dominion Elections in the Oxfords, 1867–1875
    (pp. 136-161)

    The Oxford ridings held thirteen voice-vote elections after Confederation: seven for the Dominion House of Commons and six for the Ontario Legislative Assembly (colloquially known as the ʹlocal parliamentʹ). The results for democracy were mixed. On the positive side of the ledger, government increased the number of polls, thereby diminishing territorial disenfranchisement, and introduced an independent judicial process for trying controverted elections. In a striking departure from the elections of Canada West, after Confederation the electors returned local men; indeed, Toronto politicians were seldom on offer. On the negative side, competitive elections were lacking: acclamations, one-sided contests, and low voter...

  13. 8 Democracy in Oxford County Elections, 1837–1875
    (pp. 162-184)

    Democracy, government by ʹthe people,ʹ is the research question for this study of elections in Oxford County in the years from 1837 to 1875. The bookʹs explanatory model is a maximally developed parliamentary democracy in which ʹthe peopleʹ govern themselves through their elected representatives; their elected representatives possess executive powers; the electorate approximates the ʹadultʹ population; an elector can vote once only in a given riding in the same election; any elector can be a candidate for election; elections are competitive; elections are held at regular intervals; the electoral process is fair; representation by population provides equality among ridings; controverted...

  14. Appendix A List of Elections in Oxford County, 1837–1875
    (pp. 185-186)
  15. Appendix B List of Statutes Referred to or Consulted
    (pp. 187-190)
  16. Notes
    (pp. 191-220)
  17. References
    (pp. 221-230)
  18. Index
    (pp. 231-235)