Fonds F 3 - Oliver Mowat family fonds

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Oliver Mowat family fonds

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CA ON00009 F 3

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  • 1522, [1819-1967?] (Creation)

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Physical description

13 cm of textual records
34 photographs: prints

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Name of creator

Biographical history

The Mowat family, originally of Scotland, became distinguished in law and the ministry in Kingston, Ontario, as well as local politics and the administrative affairs of Canada during the nineteenth century.

Name of creator


Biographical history

John Mowat (1791-1860), father of Sir Oliver Mowat, came to Canada as a soldier in the early nineteenth century, and became established in business at Kingston, Ontario where he raised five children.

John Mowat (1791-1860), was born in Canisby, Scotland. In 1807 he joined the 3rd (East Kent) Regiment of Foot and served in Spain and Portugal during the Napoleonic wars, leaving his fiancee, Helen Levack in Caithness. Following the end of the war in 1814, Mowat's regiment was transported to Canada where it took part in the battle at Plattsburg, 11 September 1814. Sometime following the end of the war with America, Mowat was discharged and he entered business in Kingston.

By 1819 Mowat had established himself and married Helen on the day of her arrival in Montreal. They settled in Kingston, raising five children: Oliver (1820- 1903), George L. (1824-1871), John B. (1825-1900), Catherine (1828-1916), and Jessie Bower (1833-1913). John was a founder of Queen's University and an officer in the Kingston Field Battery.

Name of creator


Biographical history

Oliver Mowat (1820-1903) was an Ontario politician, judge, and statesman during the nineteenth century, serving as Vice-Chancellor of the Court of Chancery, Premier, Minister of Justice, and Lieutenant-Governor.

Sir Oliver Mowat was born in Kingston, Ontario, 22 July 1820. Educated in Kingston, he began the study of law in the office of John A. Macdonald, and four years later moved to Toronto and completed his course with Robert E. Burns. He was called to the Bar in 1841, created a Queen's Counsel in 1856, and appointed Vice-Chancellor of the Court of Chancery in 1864, where he remained for 8 years.

Mowat represented the South Ontario riding in the House of Assembly from 1858 to 1864. He briefly held the posts of Provincial Secretary and Postmaster General during that period. He participated in the Quebec Conference of 1864 which settled the terms of Confederation.

After his service in the Court of Chancery, Mowat re-entered public life in 1872 as Premier of Ontario, being returned by North Oxford, which riding he represented continuously until 1896 when he was appointed to the Senate of Canada and became federal Minister of Justice in the Laurier administration. The Queen recognized his public services in 1892 making him a Knight Commander of the Order of St. Michael and St. George, and in 1897, on the occasion of Her Majesty's Diamond Jubilee, he was made a Knight Grand Cross of the order. In the same year he resigned as Minister of Justice, accepting an appointment as Lieutenant Governor of Ontario.

Mowat died at Government House, Toronto, on 9 April 1903.

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Biographical history

John Bower Mowat (1825-1900), brother to Sir Oliver Mowat, was a minister in Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario and was appointed chair of Theology and Hebrew at Queen's University during the late nineteenth century.

John Bower Mowat, was born in 1825, and later entered the ministry. In 1849 he was called to St. Andrews Presbyterian Church, Niagara-on-the-Lake, where he remained until 1857. At that time he was appointed to the chair of Theology and Hebrew at Queen's University, where he remained until 1900. Edinburgh University conferred the degree of Doctor of Divinity on him.

John Bower Mowat married Janet McGill in 1854. She died ten days after giving birth to Robert McGill in 1856. John married Emma McDonald, daughter of the Hon. John McDonald of Ganonoque. Children of this second marriage: Herbert (1862-1928), Evalyn Lillian (1865-1955?), Henrietta Ethelwyn (1868- 1928), and John McDonald (1872-1916). John Bower Mowat died on 16 July 1900.

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Herbert (Hubert) M. Mowat was a Kingston, Ontario lawyer, Member of Parliament, and became a Supreme Court Judge in 1920.

Herbert (Hubert) M. Mowat was the eldest child of John Bower Mowat and Emma McDonald Mowat, and was born on 11 April 1862. He practised law in Kingston and was later City Solicitor in Toronto. He married Mary Skearfe in 1900. Herbert was the Member of Parliament for Parkdale during the Union Government of Sir Robert Borden. He became a Judge of the Supreme Court in 1920. He died on 24 April 1928.

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John McDonald Mowat (1872-1916) practised law in Kingston, Ontario and Vancouver, was elected mayor of Kingston, and was killed in action while serving overseas in 1916.

John McDonald Mowat was the youngest child of John Bower Mowat and Emma McDonald, and was born on 17 February 1872. He practised law in Kingston and was mayor of the city for three years. In 1912 he went to Vancouver and practised law there until he went overseas as a major in a Vancouver regiment. He was killed in action on 8 October 1916.

Custodial history

This fonds came together from several different sources, indicated on Archives of Ontario accession forms 496, 513, 6015, 6026, 6255, 11074, and 16982. Those items received through accessions 6015, 6026, 6255, and 11074 are marked with their accession number. These accessions were received over the period dating from 1905 to 1987.

Scope and content

This fonds was created through several accessions dating from 1905 through 1968. The subjects of the records deal with the Mowat family, and, in particular, with Sir Oliver Mowat. The various accessions were all gathered together in 1993 and arranged into two series, one containing the correspondence of the Mowat family, as well as genealogical information, and the other containing material related to the personal and political life of Sir Oliver Mowat Fonds also contains records related to Herbert M. Mowat, which pertain to the Davies and James Bay Railway Arbitration, 1905-1912, in which H.M. Mowat acted as an arbitrator.

For a more detailed description, use this link to the Archives of Ontario's descriptive database:

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Restrictions on access

Access to most of the records in this fonds is unrestricted. Permission from an archivist in the Political/Legislative portfolio is required to see unit F 3-2-0-4.

Terms governing use, reproduction, and publication

Copyright held by creator. these materials cannot be published without permission of the copyright holder.

Finding aids

For a more detailed description, use this link to the Archives of Ontario's descriptive database:

Associated materials

Related materials may be found in the records of the Office of the Premier (Reference Code: Series RG 3-85) and the Office of the Lieutenant Governor (Reference Code: RG 24-1). See also MU 2629 for a scrapbook of newspaper clippings relating to Mowat's reception in Ontario following the boundary settlement in 1884.

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General note

Title based on contents of the fonds. Biographical information gathered from the following sources: Evans, A. Margaret. Sir Oliver Mowat (Toronto: University of Toronto Press,1992), and Dictionary of Canadian Biography XII, 767-768.

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