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Canadian History for Kids: George Brown

May 9, 1880 – Globe publisher and Father of Confederation George Brown dies from wounds suffered in shooting.

This Canadian History for Kids exclusive, looks at the life of one of the fathers of Confederation, George Brown.

On May 9, 1880, George Brown, publisher of The Toronto Globe, and Father of Confederation, died from a bullet wound. On March 25, 1880, he was shot in the leg by a disgruntled employee who had been fired from The Globe. The wound became gangrene and seven week later he was dead.

George Brown was born on November 29, 1818 in Scotland. He managed a printing company in New York for a time and then immigrated to Canada in 1843. He moved to Toronto where he founded the Banner and later The Globe in 1844.

The Globe became the top Reform newspaper and Brown used the newspaper to publish politically charged articles and editorials. He wrote about his strong belief in the separation of the church and state, his concern that the French-Canadian and the Roman Catholic Church held too much political power, as well as such subjects as slavery in Southern United States. He also help found the Anti-Slavery Society of Canada, whose members helped former American slaves to reach Canada through the Underground Railway.

Brown was also asked to head a commission to investigate accusations of misconduct at the Kington Penitentiary. In 1849, his “Brown Report” contained enough evidence of abuse to have the warden, Henry Smith, fired.

In 1851 he was elected to the Legislative Assembly, where he fought to have the larger population of Upper Canada to have more representatives instead of an equal number from Upper and Lower Canada.

In 1858, when his political nemesis John A. Macdonald lost the support of the Ontario Legislative Assembly on a non-confidence vote and his cabinet resigned, Brown attempted to form a ministry with Antoine-Aimé Dorion. Members of Brown’s ministry had to resign their seats to get re-elected which allowed John A. Macdonald to get reappointed and return his ministry to their seats. This became known as the double shuffle.

In 1864 Brown resigned from the Coalition over free trade. Brown was for a policy of free trade while John A. Macdonald and Alexander Galt felt Canada should raise tariffs.

In 1867 he ran for a seat in the Canadian House of Commons, and as leader for the provincial Liberal he ran for a seat in the Legislative Assembly of Ontario. He hoped to become Premier. He did not win a seat in either the Commons or the Assembly. He retired as Liberal leader in September 1867.

In 1873 the Prime Minister at the time, Alexander Mackenzie made George Brown a senator.

In 1875 he was offered the position of lieutenant governor of Ontario and in 1879 was offered a knighthood. He refused both wanting to concentrate on his personal affairs as well as the Globe.

And that’s this week’s Canadian History for Kids, exclusive!

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