Hastings County Historical Society

Canada 150: Here was Hastings County in 1867

The County of Hastings had been around in some form or other for 78 years before Canada was created in 1867. It dates from 1792 when John Graves Simcoe, lieutenant-governor of Upper Canada, had laid out the original 19 counties and four districts. Victoria District replaced it in 1839 as the administrative level until 1849, when districts were abolished and Hastings came into its own right as a county.

Under the British North America Act of 1867, Ontario (formerly Canada West) was divided into electoral districts or ridings for the purpose of electing members to the new federal House of Commons. Hastings was divided into three ridings: West, East and North.

Hastings East consisted of the townships of Thurlow, Tyendinaga and Hungerford. In 1867, electors chose Robert Read, a Conservative, distiller and tanner.

Hastings West consisted of the Town of Belleville, the Township of Sidney and the Village of Trenton. In 1867 it elected James Brown, a Conservative businessman.

Hastings North included all the townships north of Belleville: Rawdon, Huntingdon, Madoc, Elzevir, Tudor, Marmora and Lake, the Village of Stirling and other surveyed townships to the north. The chosen rep for this riding was Mackenzie Bowell, a Conservative and newspaper owner in Belleville. He would later become leader of the Conservative Party and prime minister for a short time.

These three federal riding descriptions also served for provincial electoral purposes. In 1867, Henry Corby, Conservative and distiller, was elected in Hastings East, George Henry Boulter, Conservative, in Hastings North, and Ketchum Graham, Conservative, in Hastings West.

Evidently, the electors of Hastings County preferred Conservatives in both the federal and provincial houses.

The answer to the question is that Robert Read, James Brown and Mackenzie Bowell were the first MPs from Hastings County, elected in 1867. A secondary answer is that they were all Conservatives.

Mackenzie Bowell
Photo: Mackenzie Bowell
Information drawn from the Heritage Atlas of Hastings County, County of Hastings, 2006

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