John Alexander Dewar

John Alexander Dewar

Served during the following dates: 1910-08-10; 1912-12-03; 1915-09-16; 1919-07-24

DEWAR, JOHN ALEXANDER farmer, dairy owner, and fox farmer; b. 7 February 1863 in New Perth, son of Robert Dewar and Jessie Dewar; m. 31 October 1908 Laura MacPhee, and they had five children, John Lincoln, Robert Bruce, Lloyd George*, Gladys Irene, and Olive May; Church of Christ; d. 14 August 1945 in New Perth.        Dewar, a Conservative first and later an Independent Farmer, was first elected to the Legislative Assembly in a by-election held 10 August 1910 for 3rd Kings. He was re-elected in the general elections of 1912, 1915, and 1919. He was defeated in the general election of 1923.        Dewar’s first three terms were as a Conservative, but he was not one to toe the party line. In 1912 he broke solidarity by speaking against Premier John A. Mathieson’s* decision to increase the horse tax. He also opposed the government’s Automobile Act of 1913, which would have enabled an individual community to decide if automobiles would be allowed on its roads. Dewar fought Mathieson the following year over that issue, and tried to introduce a private member’s bill regarding the automobile law. The government did not proceed with the legislation at that time. According to Dewar family folklore, his frequent opposition to Conservative initiatives may have stemmed in part from animosity over his exclusion from the Cabinet.        Throughout his career, Dewar opposed the use of the automobile in the province. In 1917 Dewar effectively ended his time as a Conservative w'hen he voted against the party’s plan to open all roads seven days a week. The vote on the automobile legislation was close: 15-14. A number of the Government Members, including Dewar, voted against it. Conservative A. P. Prowse cast the 15th vote and the bill was saved. In 1918 Dewar introduced a bill to enfranchise Island women. The bill passed but was not enacted. At the 3rd Kings Conservative nomination convention for the 1919 election, Dewar was defeated by 10 votes. Undaunted, he ran for the Independent Farmers in that riding. The Liberals declined to nominate a candidate and allowed Dewar to run alone against the Conservatives. He won with an increased majority. Dewar also angered the Liberal government with his criticism, and in 1922 fought a highways improvement bill on the grounds that it would put the Island in too much debt and that, furthermore, the public had not endorsed it. Unable to enlist his support, the government nominated a candidate to oppose him in the 1923 election. Dewar, running as an Independent, lost, and his political career ended.        Dewar was joined in politics by both his brother, Dr. George Forbes Dewar*, and eventually by his son, Lloyd George*, who in time would serve as a Member of the Legislative Assembly and as a Member of Executive Council.Dewar was educated at the local school in New Perth. He inherited the family farm and became a successful farmer. He raised foxes. Dewar helped found the experimental dairy factory at New Perth, and served as president of the Prince Edward Island Dairymen’s Association for two terms. He was president of the Maple Leaf Farmers’ Institute and director of the National Dairy Council of Canada. Dewar was a director of the Kings County Exhibition Association, the Central Farmers’ Institute, the Fruit Growers Association, and the New Perth Egg Circle.        Dewar was a leading speaker for the Temperance Association. In support of that movement, he donated some of his land for the construction of the Phoenix Temperance Hall. Dewar was a member of the Montague Rifle Association and was interested in military matters. John Dewar died 14 August 1945.        Laura Dewar was the daughter of Laughlin MacPhee and Annie Beaton.

References: CPG 1916, 1921, 1925; Dewar; Guardian 24 April 1917; Island Magazine no. 43 Spring/Summer 1998; Patriot 5 April 1918. Guide to abbreviations

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