Canadian History for Kids!
Sketches of Canada for December 17th!
The last father of Confederation.
Joey Smallwood passes away, December 17, 1991 at the age of 90. This Canadian History for Kids, Sketches of Canada, looks at the life at the little fellow from Gambo.
Joey Smallwood was born at Mint Brook, near Gambo, Newfoundland, to Charles and Minnie May Smallwood. His grandfather, David Smallwood, was a well-known maker of boots in St. John’s.
Smallwood grew up in St. John’s as part of a middle-class family. Although he had no formal education after finishing high school, he read very widely and was self-educated. During the 1920s and 1930s he worked as a newspaper journalist and a radio broadcaster and was the author of several books.
He was also involved in the labour movement, helping to organize unions. Before being elected a member of the National Convention, he operated a pig farm on the air base at Gander.
Joey Smallwood was a nationalist who long had criticized British rule. In 1945, London announced that a National Convention would be elected in Newfoundland to advise on what constitutional choices should to be voted on by referendum. Smallwood supported joining Canada, arguing that union with Canada would bring prosperity.
Smallwood carried his cause in a hard-fought referendum and a runoff in June and July 1948.
The 1948 referendums resulted in Confederation being approved, and in 1949, as leader of the Liberal Party, Smallwood was elected Premier of the new province.
After confederation, Smallwood served as premier of the new province from 1949 to 1972. He used the government to build roads and schools to create a more employable workforce, and encouraged new industries.
In 1986, he was made a Companion of the Order of Canada, after hesitating because he felt that he should be more honoured for bringing Newfoundland and Labrador into the Canadian confederation and would have liked to have had the “Right” Honourable added to his name as well as a knighthood.
In 1989, a new Marine Atlantic ferry, the MV Joseph and Clara Smallwood, was commissioned. It was decommissioned in 2011.
On December 17, 1991, only a week before his 91st birthday, he died and was buried with his wife, Clara, at Mount Pleasant Cemetery in St. John’s, Newfoundland.
And that’s this weeks Canadian History for Kids, Sketches of our Canada.