Belleville

Canada 150

HERE WAS BELLEVILLE IN 1867

With the birth of Canada, the federal government was constructed as a bicameral legislature. That is, it had a House of Commons of elected members, and an enigmatic institution called the Senate which, 150 years later, is still trying to figure out how it works.

Billa Flint from Belleville was the first senator appointed from Hastings County. The senators, in theory, were intended to balance the House of Commons who were filled with ordinary folk, i.e. commoners, who might come up with ideas which would displease the landed gentry. And so the Senate was stacked with wealthy, influential, political powers such as Billa Flint. For instance, all three members of Parliament elected in Hastings in 1867 were Conservatives but Flint, an appointee, was a Liberal. He had also served in the pre-Confederation Legislative Assembly of the Province of Canada West. In 1866 he was mayor of Belleville, and was warden of Hastings County in 1873. His business holdings reached as far north as Bancroft, and he managed to rename the village of York MIlls after his mother-in-law, Elizabeth Ann Clement (nee Bancroft).

For Flint, the Senate could provide a chamber of sober second thought because he was an advocate of temperance. Bancroft was a dry town.

Billa Flint, appointed to the Canadian Senate 1867