M965.199.4036 | Each One Paddling His Own Canoe.

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Drawing, cartoon
Each One Paddling His Own Canoe.
John Collins
About 1939, 20th century
Ink, crayon, graphite and opaque white on card
38.2 x 28 cm
Gift of Mr. John Collins - The Gazette
© McCord Museum
Keywords:  Cartoon (19139) , Drawing (18637) , drawing (18379) , politics (10928)
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Keys to History

In 1934, the prosperous Elgin County farmer Mitchell F. "Mitch" Hepburn (1896-1953) led the Liberals into office in Ontario, defeating the Conservative government of George S. Henry (1871-1953).

Given to making flashy gestures, Hepburn had the government's limousines auctioned off before an appreciative crowd at Toronto's Varsity Stadium. He also closed the lieutenant-governor's residence. Of greater significance were his cancellation of four contracts with Quebec hydro-electric companies, and legislation making the pasteurization of milk compulsory.

In 1937, a strike against General Motors of Canada's Oshawa plant saw Hepburn actively intervening on the company's side. A successful strike would, he feared, enable the Congress of Industrial Organizations (CIO) to move into Northern Ontario's gold mines, undermining their profitability. Hepburn liked the "little people," but he did not like them to organize unions. Furthermore, by 1937 he had made good friends in the mining and investment industries.

  • What

    The federal government, led by Liberal Prime Minister W.L.M. King (1874-1950), did not support Hepburn's handling of the Oshawa strike, which contributed to the bad relations between Hepburn and King.

  • Where

    Elgin County, which Hepburn represented in Parliament and later in the Ontario Legislature, was made famous in The Scotch (1964), written by John Kenneth Galbraith (b. 1908).

  • When

    Well before 1938, when John Collins (b.1917) drew this cartoon, Hepburn and King, each thinking the other was exceeding his constitutional authority, had become political enemies.

  • Who

    Two cabinet ministers, Arthur Roebuck (1878-1971) and David Croll (1900-1991), resigned from Hepburn's cabinet in April 1937 in protest against his pro-company stance in the Oshawa strike.