Thomas Simpson Sproule

Last updated
The Hon.

Thomas Simpson Sproule

Thomas Simpson Sproule.jpg
13th Speaker of the House of Commons of Canada
In office
November 15, 1911 December 2, 1915
Monarch George V
Governor General Prince Arthur, Duke of Connaught and Strathearn
Prime Minister Robert Laird Borden
Preceded by Charles Marcil
Succeeded by Albert Sévigny
Senator for Grey, Ontario
In office
Appointed by Robert Borden
Member of the Canadian Parliament
for Grey East
In office
Preceded by William Kingston Flesher
Succeeded byDistrict was abolished in 1914
Personal details
Born(1843-10-25)October 25, 1843
King Township, Upper Canada
DiedNovember 10, 1917(1917-11-10) (aged 74)
Markdale, Ontario
Political party Conservative
Alma mater University of Michigan

Thomas Simpson Sproule (October 25, 1843 November 10, 1917) was a Canadian parliamentarian, Speaker of the House of Commons of Canada from 19111915, and a member of the Canadian Senate from 1915–1917.

Canadians citizens of Canada

Canadians are people identified with the country of Canada. This connection may be residential, legal, historical or cultural. For most Canadians, several of these connections exist and are collectively the source of their being Canadian.


Early life and education

Sproule was born to James and Jane (née Mitchell) Sproule, farmers who had emigrated to King Township, Canada West from County of Tyrone, Ireland. [1] [2]

King, Ontario Township in Ontario, Canada

King is a township in York Region north of Toronto, within the Greater Toronto Area in Ontario, Canada.

Ireland Island in north-west Europe, 20th largest in world, politically divided into the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland (a part of the UK)

Ireland is an island in the North Atlantic. It is separated from Great Britain to its east by the North Channel, the Irish Sea, and St George's Channel. Ireland is the second-largest island of the British Isles, the third-largest in Europe, and the twentieth-largest on Earth.

His parents moved to Grey County when he was young, and he attended public schools there before studying at University of Michigan and Victoria University in Cobourg. He left school for two years before returning to Victoria University, graduating in 1868 with a degree in medicine. [1]

Grey County County in Ontario, Canada

Grey County is a county of the Canadian province of Ontario. The county seat is in Owen Sound. It is located in the subregion of Southern Ontario named Southwestern Ontario. Grey County is also a part of the Georgian Triangle. At the time of the Canada 2016 Census the population of the County was 93,830.

Cobourg Town in Ontario, Canada

Cobourg (/'koːbə˞g/) is a town in the Canadian province of Ontario, located in Southern Ontario 95 kilometres (59 mi) east of Toronto and 62 kilometres (39 mi) east of Oshawa. It is the largest town in and seat of Northumberland County. Its nearest neighbour is Port Hope, 7 km (4 mi) to the west. It is located along Highway 401 and the former Highway 2. To the south, Cobourg borders Lake Ontario. To the north, east and west, it is surrounded by Hamilton Township.

Doctor, businessman, politician and husband

Knarsboro Hall, Markdale. Knarsboro Hall, Markdale ON Canada.jpg
Knarsboro Hall, Markdale.

After graduation, Sproule first practised medicine at Craighurst, Ontario before moving to Galesburg, Michigan. He moved back to Grey County, settling in Markdale, Ontario, where in addition to his medical practice, he also opened a drug store, bought a large cattle farm, and invested in local businesses such as a flour mill and lumber yard. [1]

Markdale, Ontario Unincorporated community in Ontario, Canada

Markdale is a community in the Municipality of Grey Highlands, in Grey County, Ontario, Canada. The population was 1,216 in 2016, an increase of 3.5% from 1,175 in 2011. In 2016, the average age of the population was approximately 43 years old.

He turned to politics and succeeded the retiring William Kingston Flesher as MP of Grey East in the 1878 election as a Conservative MP. He also fell in love with Flesher's daughter, Mary Alice, and wooed her by having a beautiful Italianate house that he called Knarsboro Hall built for her in Markdale. [3] The couple was married in 1881, and had a daughter, Lillian. [1]

William Kingston Flesher Canadian politician

William Kingston Flesher was a settler of southwestern Ontario, a militia officer, businessman and political figure. As well as founding the village of Flesherton, he represented the riding of Grey East in the House of Commons of Canada as a Conservative member from 1872 to 1878.

Grey East was a federal electoral district represented in the House of Commons of Canada from 1872 to 1917. It was located in the province of Ontario. This riding was created in 1872 from parts of Grey North and Grey South ridings.

T.S. Sproule was also related to the famous NHL Toronto St. Patricks owner Harvey Sproule. T.S. Sproule's niece was Mary Elizabeth Sproule Head, of Milton, Ontario, who along with her husband John Head, cared for her young nephew Harvey Sproule and his sister. [4]

Toronto St. Patricks

The Toronto St. Patricks were a professional men's ice hockey team which began playing in the National Hockey League (NHL) in 1919. The Toronto NHL franchise had previously been held by the Arena Company, but despite winning the Stanley Cup the team was bankrupt and pulled out of the league after just two seasons. The rights to the Toronto franchise were purchased by a group of investors with links to an amateur club called the "St. Patricks". The new owners renamed the NHL franchise after the amateur club, and as the St. Patricks the team won the Stanley Cup in 1922. J.P. Bickell invested in the St. Patricks in 1924 as a favor to Charlie Querrie. In 1927, Charlie Querrie and other investors wanted out, J.P. Bickell made arrangements for other Toronto investors and initially hired Mike Rodden the Referee and sports writer to run the hockey operations, which didn't work out. He then hired Conn Smythe as the Managing Partner. The team was then renamed the Toronto Maple Leafs for a number of reasons, two of which are the Maple Leaf was an unofficial Canadian national symbol and secondly it was the name of the Toronto Maple Leaf Baseball Club 1896-1967. They played from Maple Leaf Stadium since 1926.

F. Harvey Sproule was a Canadian hockey player, National Hockey League coach, owner, executive, and referee, as well as a curler, journalist, and race horse owner.

Sproule was subsequently re-elected to Parliament eight times in succession. [5] Both Sproule and his wife were dedicated teetotallers and Prohibitionists, and when Mary Alice Sproule was the hostess of her husband's political functions, she never allowed alcohol to be served. [3]

Political views

Sproule was a staunch Protestant from an Irish Unionist background. He was a member of the Orange Order, and rose to the position of "Master and Sovereign". In 1906, he became "President of the Imperial Grand Council of the World". The Order was noted for its anti-French and anti-Catholic views, particularly in that period.

As a Conservative MP, he was a supporter of Prime Minister Sir John A. Macdonald, but his loyalty to Orangeism led him to differ with his party's leadership on issues of language and religion, particularly on the Manitoba Schools Question. Sproule opposed any concession to Catholic Separate Schools or French language instruction.

Following the fall of the Conservative government in the 1896 election, largely due to divisions over the school issue, he became a pronounced critic of the immigration policies of Sir Wilfrid Laurier's government. Sproule opposed the admission to Canada of non-British migrants. He supported the abolition of French language instruction in Ontario schools, and the implementation of Regulation 17. Sproule also opposed the expansion of French language services by the federal government.

Speaker of the House

Following the defeat of the Laurier government in the 1911 election, the new Conservative Prime Minister, Robert Laird Borden, nominated Sproule to the position of Speaker of the House of Commons. Because Sproule had to lead the House in prayers in both English and French, he embarked on French lessons despite being a lifelong opponent of the language.

During a thirty-six-day filibuster on the question of the government's naval bill, Sproule lost his patience after weeks of 24-hour sessions, and became the first Speaker ever to "name" a member of the House for disorderly conduct.

Illness and death

Sproule was forced to retire from the Speakership due to ill health, and was named to the Senate of Canada in 1915. He served for two years until his death in 1917. [5] Four years after his death, Sproule's wife Mary Alice sold Knarsboro Hall, [6] the house Sproule had built for her, and went to live with her daughter where she stayed until her death in 1941. [3]

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  1. 1 2 3 4 An Encyclopaedia of Canadian Biography Containing Brief Sketches and Steel Engravings of Canada's Prominent Men, Volume III. Montreal: Canadian Press Syndicate. 1907. p. 91.
  3. 1 2 3 Robinson, Geraldine (1979). Markdale and Flesherton: A Written Heritage. Flesherton: South Grey Museum.
  5. 1 2 Thomas Simpson Sproule – Parliament of Canada biography
  6. Bob Durant. "Markdale's Knarsboro Hall". Georgian Bay Explorer. Owen Sound. CFOS.